In February 2022, Ranekka T. Dean, PhD, RN, research assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, was named NYU Langone’s senior director of infection prevention and control. In that role, she is responsible for overseeing and coordinating activities of infection prevention at all hospital and ambulatory locations and guiding all aspects of infection surveillance, prevention, and control across NYU Langone’s large and growing health system.
“I’m excited to dig into my new role as senior director of infection prevention and control,” says Dr. Dean. “I’ll work to reinforce an integrated approach that systematically advances infection prevention and control across our system and takes our best practices to the next level.”
Here, Dr. Dean reflects on her career journey, including her work to attract and mentor more Black people to careers in healthcare.
The Moment I Knew
I was in a car accident when I was 5 years old, and what I remember most clearly from that day is the comforting face looking down at me when I woke up in the hospital. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to give that same comfort to someone else.
Originally, I wasn’t sure what role in healthcare I wanted to pursue, so I started by earning a bachelor’s degree in biology at Long Island University. Not long after graduation, however, a friend and mentor told me about an accelerated nursing program that really piqued my interest. So I returned to school, earned a second bachelor’s degree in nursing, and set the course for my career.
NYU Langone Through and Through
I always say that I grew up at NYU Langone—for one, because I joined NYU Langone as a nurse right out of school in 2001 on an orthopedic and peripheral vascular unit, but also because it’s here that I’ve turned my personal drive into professional confidence through continued education and career advancement.
I earned a master’s degree in public administration from NYU in 2006, and a doctorate in nursing research from NYU in 2017, all the while holding positions of increasing responsibility at NYU Langone, including assistant nurse manager, nurse manager, infection control practitioner, and briefly as an assistant director of infection prevention and control at Mt. Sinai Hospital, before returning to NYU Langone to serve as director of infection prevention and control at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island.
I’ve always looked for ways to develop professionally. I’ve embraced every career opportunity, I’ve taken advantage of every chance to attend leadership sessions, seminars, and courses, and I encourage my staff to do the same. One of the many perks that come with working here is the abundant resources to enhance one’s abilities and help grow your career. Opportunities abound if you apply yourself.
Creating one’s own opportunities for career advancement is paramount, but it can be difficult to know how to do it and what it takes to move up. That’s why mentorships are so important, and why I really make it a point to instill confidence in those I mentor.
Today, fortunately, people are increasingly being measured by their merits, more so than their gender or race, and current events over the last few years have led to greater understanding and awareness. But representation still matters, and I’m proud to be part of the work to attract, mentor, and retain Black talent at NYU Langone.
And I’m hopeful that we’ll continue making progress on judging everyone by the “content of their character,” as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned.