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Inside the School of Nursing

December 2020 Student spotlight
Mamie Williams, Ph.D. student

Mamie WilliamsIn a recent conversation, Mamie Williams shared that she decided to pursue her Ph.D. because it was a long-standing personal goal of hers. "I've always been inspired by my nursing instructors who were Ph.D. prepared," said Williams. "They seemed to have a foundation in nursing that I wanted to emulate."

Williams works at Vanderbilt University as director of nurse safety and well-being. She has enjoyed the benefits of the Ph.D. program in her current role and looks forward to what it holds for her future. She would like to ensure nurses have a safe working environment and plans to evaluate programs that are put in place at her institution to assess how well they are working. After completing her Ph.D., Williams also hopes to contribute to nursing literature through best practices that ensure a safe environment for nurses.

Williams values the support and mentorship she has received from the Ph.D. program at KU and urges nurses to get their Ph.D. if it's something they're interested in. "Sometimes you hear, what is a Ph.D. going to do for me? But the benefits you receive from your current work are so beneficial to you professionally. If you're looking at the University of Kansas program, I don't think you could find a more supportive and well-planned program," Williams said.

Williams is currently writing her dissertation and hopes to graduate in May 2021.

September 2020 New Partnership
Ignite Medical Resorts partners with School of Nursing to engage onsite consultant

Inside of Ignite Medical Resort, with exercise equipmentIgnite Medical Resorts in Kansas City announced a partnership with the University of Kansas School of Nursing that will place an advanced practice nurse and faculty member with Ignite as a consultant. Susan Hofman, APRN, RN, and a clinical associate professor at the KU School of Nursing, will join Ignite as part of a professional services agreement.

Hofman will assist Ignite with orientation, training and assessment, while providing consultation on evidence-based approaches for care delivery. Her efforts will be focused within the Kansas City area, but she will have the opportunity to influence the Ignite processes and systems nationwide.

"Quality care and service is at the heart of what we do. We are thrilled to partner with the KU School of Nursing to improve our training and education of our staff to enhance the quality of care to our guests," said Tim Fields, CEO and co-founder of Ignite Medical Resorts.

"We are excited to create this unique agreement with Ignite," said Nelda Godfrey, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, associate dean of innovative partnerships and practice and professor at the KU School of Nursing. "We believe we have found an innovative way to assist companies like Ignite in integrating evidence-based learning into their processes and systems."

Hofmann earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati and her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Kansas. She served as a U.S. Army nurse for 12 years, first as a medical/surgical nurse and then for five years in the emergency department. She has taught in an interprofessional clinic within the University of Kansas Health System and has been an American Heart Association educator teaching Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) for more than 20 years. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in nursing practice at KU.

September 2020 New Faculty
Welcome to Becky Christian, Ph.D., Director, PhD Program

Becky ChristianWe are pleased to announce that Dr. Becky Christian will join the University of Kansas School of Nursing faculty on September 1, 2020 as Professor (tenured) and Director of the PhD Program. Welcome Dr. Christian!

Dr. Christian received her bachelor's degree and master's degree (family-child nursing) from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and doctorate (nursing) from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research is focused on children and adolescents with chronic illness and how families adapt to and manage their child's chronic condition. Dr. Christian also has extensive experience teaching child health nursing, theory development, research methods, and measurement, as well as mentoring students in dissertation research and evidence-based practice scholarly projects and translational research. She most recently served as director of the doctor of philosophy in nursing program at the University of Louisville School of Nursing (4 years). Dr. Christian is a Distinguished Scholar and Fellow in the interprofessional National Academies of Practice and, most recently, is being inducted as a 2020 Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

July 2020 Student Spotlight
RN-to-BSN student volunteers in New York hotspot caring for COVID-19 patients

BustillosDespite the long hours, heartbreaking scenes burned into her memory, and the ever-present threat of contracting a disease that could kill her, Nayeli Bustillos, RN, says she is glad for the experience of caring for COVID-19 patients in New Rochelle, New York.

Bustillos is a University of Kansas School of Nursing student in the online RN-to-BSN degree program. She staffed the acute dialysis unit at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, which was packed with patients because COVID-19 can cause kidney injury requiring dialysis treatment. She worked 12- to 18-hour shifts for a month, beginning April 12, while working with her professors to amend or delay her assignments and exams.

"They were great to work with," she said of her professors. "I was able to complete my final exams, and I submitted some late assignments. Through the online program, I was able to take this opportunity in New York that I might not have been able to, if I was taking face-to-face classes."

She volunteered when her employer, Fresenius Medical Care, asked for help in New Rochelle. In 2017, the same company asked for volunteers to care for patients in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Bustillos signed up.

"It was a good experience, and I knew I wanted to do something like that again," she said.

Janet Severine, APRN-NP, DNP, adjunct assistant professor, compared Bustillo's experience in New York to joining the Army or Air Force. Bustillos was enrolled in Severine's Nursing 449, Nursing Care in the Health Care Organization.

"I'm certain she would have received a better grade if she hadn't gone to New York," Severine said. "But there's also something to be said for experience. I highly commend her for having the guts to go. She could have gotten sick. But it was an experience of a lifetime."

In her journal, Bustillos wrote about caring for a confused woman in her 80s, crying out desperately for a loved one that wasn't there and couldn't be there because of COVID-19 visitor restrictions. That encounter, and many more like it, challenged her personally and professionally.

"These past three weeks are among the most mentally challenging times I've ever experienced in my life," she wrote. "What I can manage is the busyness and chaos that fills the days-it's the nights that I struggle the most. It's during this time that my mind has time to process the devastation that unfolded earlier that day. It's during this time when it gets rough." Read more about Nayeli's experiences in New Rochelle on the KU Medical Center website.

May 2020 Student Spotlight
Drs. Pimple and Hess - Journey to DNP

Kari Hess and Cathy Pimple have been through nursing school together since day one. Both earned BSNs from Emporia State University in 1996 and this year, they earned DNP degrees from KU. Dr. Pimple graduated in December with a public health specialty, and Dr. Hess will graduate this month with an organizational leadership specialty. "We don't miss a beat, and it always seems like we pick up where we left off," Dr. Hess said.

Drs. Kari Hess and Cathy PimplePictured to the right: Drs. Kari Hess and Cathy Pimple.

Dr. Pimple wanted to earn a DNP because "as a healthcare leader I appreciated the strategy and tactics necessary to protect and improve the health of our community and population." While completing the program, working as a Chief Quality and Compliance Officer, she was able to apply organizational and systems leadership, gain improvements in health outcomes and ensure patient safety. As she continues to move forward in her career, Dr. Pimple is excited to discover what is next.

Dr. Hess decided to pursue a DNP with an organizational leadership specialty after her KU master's comprehensive exam in 2009. She recalls an exam committee member encouraging her to continue her education endeavors in a doctoral program. "Their statement taught me that we do not realize the impact of our words through encouragement, by planting the seeds for professional attainment, and aspiring [me] to becom[e] a nurse leader," she said. Dr. Hess is an Associate Professor at Emporia State University and is excited to utilize the skills she has acquired as a transformational leader to inspire her colleagues and students.

Both Pimple and Hess have advice for BSN students embarking upon graduate study. Dr. Pimple encourages students to be, "patient and embrace the journey," to continue learning and remain humble with success. Dr. Hess urges students to not wait for the right time to pursue a graduate degree-because it never will be the right time. "Just go for it! Be a part of the solution and move the profession forward with innovation and evidence-based practice," she said.

April 2020 Student Spotlight
Teale Ryan, Master's in Health Informatics Student

graphic of chalk on boardTeale Ryan, clinical instructor at KU School of Nursing-Salina and a master's in health informatics student, finds ways to stay connected with her students.

Ryan decided to reach her students through an effort she calls "Rock Chalk the walk." For students remaining in Salina, she chalked up their sidewalks with encouraging messages. "I wanted them to know KUSON faculty loves and misses them," said Ryan.

As health care providers, we will always be essential workers, so we must learn to adapt and problem solve. Having a good connection generates trust in each other that can carry into practice.

March 2020 Student Spotlight
Rachel Loder (N4) Meets Representative Sharice Davids

Pictured from left to right: Sofia Navarro, NP,  Kansas State Representative Sharice Davids, and Rachel Loder, KU School of Nursing N4. Between her clinical experiences at Vibrant Health and recently meeting Kansas Representative Sharice Davids, fourth-year nursing student Rachel Loder reflects on how she returned to the place where her interest in nursing started.

Pictured from left to right: Sofia Navarro, NP, Kansas State Representative Sharice Davids, and Rachel Loder, KU School of Nursing N4.

Prior to entering KU School of Nursing, Loder worked as a care coordinator and Spanish interpreter at Vibrant Women’s Health Center.. She explained that Vibrant fills a huge gap in access to care for a lot of people in Wyandotte county, and states that the organization, “practices what they preach” in offering health care access to patients who don’t have insurance to cover necessary procedures. So, when the time came to select N4 population health clinical rotations, Loder knew she wanted to return to Vibrant.

Loder appreciates her preceptor, nurse practitioner Sofia Navarro, and the opportunity to serve Vibrant’s prenatal patients. Loder plans to work in the maternity unit at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, where many Vibrant patients deliver their babies. “It’s cool to see the whole spectrum before I work at the post-natal site,” Loder said.

Equally meaningful for Loder was the opportunity to meet Kansas State Representative Sharice Davids. In early February, Representative Davids created a promotional video for American Heart Awareness month at Vibrant. Vibrant was selected because of the work the center does in heart disease screening and prevention. Loder shared that meeting Representative Davids further fueled her interest in health policy. “It was cool seeing policy and health care coming together right in front of me,” she said.

Loder recommends to her colleagues a clinical rotation at Vibrant, calling it “a great place to learn.” For Loder, population health and experiences at Vibrant Health are what led her nursing.

Jerrihlyn McGeeSeptember 16, 2019

Jerrihlyn L. McGee, clinical assistant professor, has been named vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion effective Monday, Sept. 16. In her new role, Dr. McGee will serve as the chief diversity officer and will lead and coordinate diversity-related initiatives on the three KUMC campuses and chair the vice chancellor's diversity cabinet. She will develop and oversee programs, services and initiatives designed to enhance the organization's cultural competence and the successful recruitment, professional development and retention of students, faculty and staff from diverse and under-represented population groups.
Dr. McGee will continue in some capacity in her role as faculty and program director for graduate leadership programs in the School of Nursing.

Salina HEC

August 29, 2019

The Salina Health Education Center is expanding by 15,871 square feet to allow the School of Nursing in Salina to add more students. Since the campus opened to nursing students in 2017, the class size has grown from 8 students to currently 18 and is expected to reach up to 24. Read the story here.

August 12, 2019Kelly Bosak

Four faculty members at KU Medical Center will receive the 2019 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Awards, selected by a committee of Medical Center faculty and students.  Kelly Bosak, associate professor will be recognized at the KU Teaching Summit Aug. 22. Congratulations! Read the full article here.

LaVerne ManosMay 2019

LaVerne Manos, DNP, RN-BC, FAMIA became a member of the Inaugural Class of AMIA Fellows.

This program recognizes members who apply informatics skills and knowledge within their professional setting, who have demonstrated professional achievement and leadership, and who have a sustained commitment to the betterment of AMIA. Members are now authorized to use the letters FAMIA (Fellow of the American Medical Informatics Association) in connection with their professional activities where balancing the needs of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and others working within clinical informatics settings, with the needs of professionals working in public health, clinical research, and other areas where informatics is applied to practice.

April 2019Midwest Nursing Research Society logo 

Midwest Nursing Research Society conference.

The KU School of Nursing hosted the 43th annual Midwest Nursing Research Society conference on March 27-30, 2019, at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Kansas City. Nearly 900 nursing scholars and students attended from 36 states and five countries.

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February 2019The new Associate Dean for Research at KU School of Nursing, Barbara J. Polivka, Ph.D., RN, FAAN

New associate dean for research joins KU School of Nursing.

The University of Kansas School of Nursing has a new associate dean for research. Barbara J. Polivka, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, joined the KU School of Nursing on February 1.

Polivka comes to KU from the University of Louisville School of Nursing, where she had been professor and the Shirley B. Powers Endowed Chair in Nursing Research since 2012. Before that, she had been on the faculty of The Ohio State University College of Nursing since 1999.

Polivka was offered the associate dean for research position at the KU School of Nursing after a national search following the retirement of her predecessor, Marjorie Bott, Ph.D., RN., in 2018. Bott, who joined the KU School of Nursing faculty in 1990, became associate dean for research in 2003.

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Last modified: Dec 09, 2020