Mary Zerlan, DNP, CRNA, Named to American Health Council Nursing Board

Mary Zerlan, DNP, CRNA, Named to American Health Council Nursing Board

Mary Zerlan, DNP, CRNA, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO was recently named to the Nursing Board of the American Health Council. She was selected for her vast knowledge and expertise in anesthesia from three decades of experience in the healthcare industry.

The Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University’s School of Medicine emphasizes innovative education and comprehensive, personalized clinical training. Fostering an academic culture that integrates clinical care, research, and education, services provided include patient care in pre-operative evaluation, intraoperative anesthesia, post-operative critical care, and pain management.

In her role as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at the Washington University School of Medicine, Zerlan functions as an anesthesia provider at a Level I trauma center. Her scope of practice includes preoperative, intraoperative, and post-operative anesthesia care. After beginning her career as an ICU nurse, Zerlan began serving as an anesthesia provider upon completion of her master’s degree with a sub-specialty in anesthesia. Zerlan’s education background also includes a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Loyola University Medical College in 2012.

Zerlan credits her success to a strong worth ethic, perseverance, and passion. To learn more about Mary Zerlan and her position on the Nursing Board for the American Health Council, visit here.

Nurses of the Week: Northern Arizona University Nursing Students Save Lives on Annual Mission Trips to Guatemala

Nurses of the Week: Northern Arizona University Nursing Students Save Lives on Annual Mission Trips to Guatemala

Our Nurses of the Week are the nursing students from Northern Arizona University (NAU) who donate their time on an annual mission trip to Guatemala to treat women with cervical cancer and provide health screenings and education to as many Guatemalans as possible.

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Guatemala, taking the lives of over 1,400 Mayan women per year. The disease is treatable when detected early, but women in the developing country don’t receive the regular checkups and treatment they need for early diagnosis. 31 percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer in the US die each year, compared with 48 percent in Guatemala – quite a jump.

Dorothy Dunn, an assistant professor in the Northern Arizona University School of Nursing, became interested in Latin America while taking history classes as an undergrad. Gaining a passion for global outreach, she decided to find out why a curable cancer is killing so many Mayan women. Dunn tells,

“Because Guatemala is a low-resource country, women lack the regular checkups and treatment they need, resulting in a very late-stage cancer diagnosis. They are then placed on a waiting list of more than 2,000 people in hopes of living long enough to receive radiation treatment – most of whom don’t.”

This led Dunn to the Center for International Education, where she established an international study abroad program providing NAU nursing students with the opportunity to treat Mayan women through a partnership with the Guatemalan-based nonprofit, Nursing Heart Inc. NAU’s program is unique from other international programs in that a group of students returns to the same town and same people every year, providing them with annual ‘check-ups’ and checking on their patients’ progress.

Students from NAU have been traveling with Dunn annually to Santa Maria de Jesus since 2013 where over 500 people flock each year to receive treatment. They focus on women’s health care, spending the first three days providing Mayan women with cervical cancer screenings. It’s a program everyone benefits from as the women get treatment they don’t otherwise receive and students get hands-on experience and the chance to save lives.

Guatemala has also seen an influx in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. For many of the country’s poorer families, low-nutrient, high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-salt processed foods are all that are affordable. These diseases are often manageable in developed countries, but without adequate healthcare funding and access to medications, these diseases are causing even more early deaths in Guatemalans. Hoping to provide Guatemalans with preventative measures they can implement into their daily lives, Dunn and her students spend the fourth day at the clinic providing patient education.

To learn more about NAU’s Guatemalan study abroad program and Dunn’s involvement in founding and continuing its mission, visit here.

Rutgers Nursing Professor Nancy Pontes Named Fellow of the National Academies of Practice

Rutgers Nursing Professor Nancy Pontes Named Fellow of the National Academies of Practice

The National Academies of Practice, a national interprofessional organization advising on health care delivery in the US, recently inducted Nancy Pontes, an assistant professor in the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden, as a Fellow. Pontes was inducted into the prestigious fellowship during an annual conference in March, where she was also distinguished as a fellow of the Nursing Academy.

Pontes’ expertise is in family health, the delivery of care, and the social determinants of health and well-being in youth and families. She was the 2013 recipient of the New Jersey College Health Association’s Honorary Nursing Excellence Award in College Health. Pontes has also published research in several health-related journals and presented her findings at conferences nationwide.

As a member of the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden since 2015, Pontes teaches undergraduate courses in Community Health Nursing/Global Health and Wellness and Health Assessment, and graduate courses in Advanced Health and Physical Assessment. Pontes is also the primary investigator on a $600,000 grant from the US Department of Education International and Foreign Language office which seeks to strengthen Spanish language skills among students and faculty.

Pontes received her bachelor of science in nursing degree from Pensacola Christian College in 1985, her master of science in nursing degree from the University of Florida in 1994, and her PhD in nursing from Columbia University in 2003. She previously served as assistant vice president for health and wellness at Rowan University and practice director and nurse practitioner at New York University’s Division of Nursing and the University of Florida’s College of Medicine prior to beginning her position with Rutgers.

To learn more about Pontes’ nursing background and Fellow recognition with the National Academies of Practice, visit here.

Dr. Bei Wu of NYU Nursing Receives Distinguished Scientist Award for Research in Geriatric Oral Health

Dr. Bei Wu of NYU Nursing Receives Distinguished Scientist Award for Research in Geriatric Oral Health

Dr. Bei Wu, PhD, Professor in the New York University (NYU) Rory Meyers College of Nursing, was recently honored with a 2017 International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Distinguished Scientist Award for Geriatric Oral Research. The award is given to stimulate, encourage, and recognize outstanding research accomplishments in the field of geriatric oral research.

To receive the award, recipients must have conducted original and important investigations in basic, clinical, or epidemiological sciences associated with geriatric oral health. Dr. Wu has published several papers on topics related to oral health disparities in older adults, trends and trajectories of oral health, and oral health in relationship to cognitive impairment and diabetes.

Recent research conducted by Dr. Wu found that certain oral health measures like number of teeth and periodontal disease were not associated with risk of cognitive decline or incidental dementia. Cognitive decline was also not associated with greater loss of teeth or number of decayed teeth. According to, Dr. Wu notes that,

“It is unclear how or whether oral health and cognitive status are related. Additional research is needed in which there is greater agreement on how oral health and cognitive states are assessed to better examine the linkages between these two health outcomes.”

To learn more about Dr. Wu’s position at NYU and her influence in the field of geriatric oral health research, visit here.

Johns Hopkins Nursing Faculty Cheryl Dennison Himmelfarb Accepted into Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

Johns Hopkins Nursing Faculty Cheryl Dennison Himmelfarb Accepted into Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) Professor Cheryl Dennison Himmelfarb, PhD, RN, ANP, FAAN, FAHA, FPCNA, has been accepted for induction to the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. STTI’s Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame acknowledges nurses of national and international recognition whose research has improved lives and the profession.

Himmelfarb tells, “This is a gratifying and humbling moment in my career. I am thankful to the mentors, colleagues, and funders that have guided and collaborated with me in this most rewarding work. I am proud to be inducted among so many distinguished nurses and esteemed colleagues.”

With research focusing on cardiovascular risk, chronic illness management, and patient safety, Himmelfarb has closely examined the social and cultural determinants of cardiovascular risk, particularly among resource-limited populations.

After serving with the National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association, Himmelfarb helped develop national clinical guidelines to reduce health disparities and improve cardiovascular care. She is deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translation Research, helping enhance and promote best practices in research participant recruitment and community engagement.

Himmelfarb is director of the Helene Fuld Leadership Program for the Advancement of Patient Safety and Quality in the JHSON, mentoring the next generation of nurses interested in quality and safety of health care. She also directs the Office for Science and Innovation, facilitating faculty and student research. Outside JHSON, Himmelfarb is the current president of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing among other associations.

Dr. Himmelfarb will be inducted to the Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame at STTI’s 28th International Nursing Research Congress in July. To learn more about her research and impact in the field of nursing, visit here.

Penn Nursing Fellowship Immerses PhD Students in Nursing Care

Penn Nursing Fellowship Immerses PhD Students in Nursing Care

Nurses with research doctorates are vital in improving patient outcomes and quality of care. However, less than 5 percent of nurses have PhDs, the education needed to perform independent research according to the National Institute of Nursing Research. The aging and retirement of current nurse researchers indicates a coming shortage of nurse scientists that could impact future nurse research contributions to healthcare delivery.

To help prevent this shortage, the Hillman Program in Nursing Innovation developed the idea for a BSN to PhD program to accelerate education opportunities for new and young nurse researchers. The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) was the first school to implement the idea, and took it a step further by developing an immersion experience in clinical nursing practice for PhD students through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Hillman Scholar Madelyne Z. Greene says, “Research shows that the average age of students entering nursing PhD programs is early 40s, which is far older than many other disciplines. This shortens the duration of nurse scientists’ productive careers as researchers, educators and innovative leaders. There is a compelling need for increased innovation in preparing new nurse scientists, leaders and innovators earlier in their careers.”

Scholars in Penn’s BSN to PhD program are both undergraduate and PhD students at the same time, as early as their junior undergraduate year or upon entry to the second degree accelerated BSN program. Students achieve rapid progression through the rigorous coursework by replacing specific required undergraduate courses like healthcare policy and research methods with graduate-level versions. They also enroll in PhD core courses and advanced coursework in their selected research content area during undergraduate semesters instead of taking electives.

The truly unique aspect of the program is the seven-month fellowship, which is distinct from existing residencies for new nurse graduates. It includes a high level of clinical and scholarly mentoring, shorter program length, and waiver of the usual requirement of committing to work for the sponsoring institution for a set time upon graduation.

To learn more about Penn Nursing’s BSN to PhD program and nursing fellowship, visit here.