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A healthy collaboration

MSU Denver Communication Design students give the Department of Nursing a dose of artistic inspiration.

By Doug McPherson

February 19, 2020

Hallway outside of Department of Nursing offices.

Usually, nursing is a profession that comes to the rescue, but not this time.  

Recently, Terry Buxton, chair of the Department of Nursing, needed help – not the medical kind but the communication-design kind. Metropolitan State University of Denver’s recent rebranding effort, “Reimagine Possible,” inspired Buxton to seek out a fresh new look and feel for the department, one that “captures Nursing’s importance and contributions of superior education for students.”

The Department of Nursing has been a valuable part of MSU Denver for 50 years, yet according to Buxton, it’s still misunderstood.

“Nurses and the profession are portrayed with outdated stereotypes,” she said. “Most people, including health care workers, don’t fully understand what nurses do.”

Buxton didn’t have far to go for help showcasing the department’s modern mission; in fact, she didn’t have to leave campus. She met with Lisa Abendroth, professor of Communication Design, to get six teams of students from their respective disciplines to brainstorm around the question: How can we communicate nursing in a meaningful way? In a few days, the teams had plenty of answers and 12 mural-design proposals.

“The students delivered outstanding works of art,” Buxton said. “Each team captured the multiple perspectives of nursing and highlighted them in unique and creative ways. It was difficult to choose a single final design.” 

Ultimately, the judges’ winning look was a contemporary design featuring words that captured nursing’s attributes. The winning mural design is now displayed outside the Nursing Department office, WC 247.

It was a difficult assignment, Abendroth said. “The students had to work through rigorous design challenges and meet many levels of criteria and design requirements beyond a typical design-class project,” she said.

Students worked with Auraria Higher Education Center Facilities Services on project planning and approvals and with MSU Denver’s Strategy, Marketing and Communication team on mural guidelines and brand compliance. Scott Surine, associate director of brand strategy, gave students parameters on the University brand, including logo use, brand colors, typefaces and more.

Sarah Smalley, a junior from Golden, was on the winning mural team. She said the stakes are higher with “client work” versus class projects.

“All of it related to real-world design work, so it’s important that we experience it now while we have some room for error and the support of our instructors,” Smalley said.

Buxton said the more MSU Denver colleges and departments collaborate, the richer they make the learning environment. “Working together in creative ways gives our students the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to be successful in their careers,” she said.

As for future collaborative projects, Buxton adds, “The sky is the limit. Reimagining possible is our shared goal and challenge.”

Topics: Arts, Collaboration, Community, Excellence, Inclusion, Innovation, Nursing, Strategy, Marketing and Communication

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