Nurse of the Week: UAB Nursing Professor Maria Shirey, PhD, Named AONE Nurse Researcher of the Year

Nurse of the Week: UAB Nursing Professor Maria Shirey, PhD, Named AONE Nurse Researcher of the Year

Our Nurse of the Week is Maria Shirey, PhD, a professor and associate dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing who was recently named the American Organization of Nurse Executives Foundation (AONE) Nurse Researcher of the Year. The award recognizes her outstanding contributions to nursing and health systems research.

Shirey has been recognized internationally for her research in nursing leadership and management. Her research has addressed multiple AONE priorities, including developing core competencies of nurse leaders across the care continuum to support current and emerging roles; supporting the design and implementation of care delivery and health management models; and supporting the provision of safe, quality care and delivery systems grounded in healthful practice.

Shirey tells uab.edu, “My research has identified the systems and support structures nurse managers need in order to be successful in their roles. Nurse managers are crucial because they lead from the middle. They’re the voice that really articulates the mission and vision of an organization in ways that benefit the patients and families we serve.”

Shirey’s role as a professor and associate dean in the UAB School of Nursing has had tremendous impacts on the program. Her work as a principal investigator on a four-year, $2.8 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant project to develop a resilient primary care registered nurse workforce has helped develop a new generation of RNs who will work in medically underserved areas and work toward chronic disease prevention and control. She has also been instrumental in opening a nurse-managed, interprofessional transitional care clinic for heart failure patients.

According to uab.edu, Shirey’s response to receiving the AONE Nurse Researcher of the Year award was, “For me, receiving the AONE nurse researcher award is an incredible honor. It’s recognition of the value and impact of my work over a long and productive career. This is an award for which I was nominated by colleagues in my field, and that makes it even more special.”

To learn more about Maria Shirey, PhD, a professor and associate dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships at the UAB School of Nursing who was recently named the AONE Nurse Researcher of the Year, visit here.

Auburn University Nursing Students Provide Immunization Education Through Simulation Exercise Following Rise of Measles

Auburn University Nursing Students Provide Immunization Education Through Simulation Exercise Following Rise of Measles

Following reports on the rise of measles cases in the United States, faculty in the Auburn University School of Nursing developed a simulation exercise on immunization education. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US had experienced 704 cases of measles this year as of April 26, the largest annual number of cases in 25 years. Last week, Alabama recorded its first presumptive case of measles this year, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Morgan Yordy, an assistant professor, and Ann Lambert, an assistant clinical professor, initiated the simulated experience for second-semester nursing students. Two rooms in Auburn’s Engaging Active Group Learning Environments in Simulation (EAGLES) Center were converted to reflect a typical health department or hospital classroom. Community members volunteered to portray parents of pediatric patients who were visiting the school to gather additional information regarding immunizations for their children. Students were responsible for educating them, including responding to any questions or concerns.

Simulated experiences allow students to apply knowledge and skills attained in class in an appropriate and realistic setting where faculty can evaluate competencies. Auburn faculty reported that students provided accurate and reliable information about the importance of children receiving vaccines, emphasizing vaccine safety and efficacy, and the potential consequences of parents choosing not to have their children vaccinated.

Meghan Jones, assistant clinical professor and director of clinical simulation and skills, tells AlabamaNewsCenter.com, “Students developed knowledge and communication skills to speak to community members regarding how to protect their children from many communicable diseases, and how to educate families, who may be hesitant, without bias or prejudice. Students reported they had the necessary knowledge and skills to discuss vaccine information with ‘concerned parents’ and, after the clinical session, they were more confident in their abilities to educate others.”

Measles is a contagious, airborne virus that causes serious health complications and spreads through sneezing and coughing. Anyone not protected against measles is at risk of acquiring the virus. Alabama currently has a high rate of vaccination but the state could experience a measles outbreak if children are not vaccinated. State law requires children to be up to date on their vaccinations prior to attending school. Adolescents and college students must also be up to date on their Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) immunizations.

To learn more about the immunization education through simulation exercises conducted by nursing students at Auburn University following reports on the rise of measles cases in the US, visit here.  

Nurse of the Week: DNP Graduating Senior Ayana Red Focuses Research on Oral Healthcare in Geriatric Patients

Nurse of the Week: DNP Graduating Senior Ayana Red Focuses Research on Oral Healthcare in Geriatric Patients

Our Nurse of the Week is Ayana Red, a graduating senior of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program who is focusing her research efforts on oral healthcare for geriatric patients. Red noticed that the oral healthcare of geriatric patients was being overlooked in nursing homes and longterm care facilities and decided she wanted to make an impact on care staff’s knowledge of oral care practices in older adults as well as improve oral health outcomes in geriatric patients.

Red developed a set of evidence-based oral care guidelines for staff to follow and created an oral care documentation checklist and guidelines to monitor oral care twice daily for two weeks. She then measured the oral health of participating residents three different times to determine if staff education and the evidence-based protocol would contribute to improvement in the oral health status of residents. Her project was successful in increasing staff knowledge of oral care practices and improving oral health outcomes in this vulnerable population.

In addition to working toward her DNP degree, Red has been a family nurse practitioner for nine years and first became interested in nursing while working as a medical laboratory technician in a local hospital in Mississippi. She experienced the significant impact that nurses make on patient’s lives and decided it was the right career path for her. After earning her BSN and MSN degrees from other programs, Red decided the UAH College of Nursing was the right place for her to earn her DNP. 

Dr. Pamela O’Neal, UAH Associate Professor of Nursing, tells UAH.edu, “Dr. Ayana Red is a nurse who will change the health outcomes of older adults who reside in a nursing home. She has developed an evidence-based oral care protocol as a DNP Project, and data indicate oral health can improve significantly in just two to four weeks by attending to oral care twice daily. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Red. She is an amazing person with such a promising future.”

With her new degree, Red plans to become a nurse educator and continue her research in improving health outcomes for geriatric populations. To learn more about Ayana Red’s experience as a DNP student and her research on oral healthcare in geriatric patients, visit here

New University of Alabama at Birmingham Nursing Program Addresses Need for Health Care in Rural and Underserved Communities

New University of Alabama at Birmingham Nursing Program Addresses Need for Health Care in Rural and Underserved Communities

A new nursing program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is aiming to improve access to quality health care in rural and underserved communities. Alabama has a shortage of primary and specialty health care providers, and according to the Bureau of Health Workforce, 66 of 67 counties in the state lack enough dentists and mental health care providers to meet population needs.

The new program will provide 111 students from across the state with firsthand training on how to provide care in rural and underserved areas. The students are from multiple universities and have been selected to participate in the first class of Alabama Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) scholars. The scholars come from a wide range of backgrounds including medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacology, social work, and education.

Students in the program will learn about rural medicine and how to serve underserved communities both in and out of the classroom by participating in service projects. UAB plans to train, place, and keep students with varying backgrounds in underserved areas to ensure adequate health care is provided to all people across the state. Diversity is crucial to improving access to health care, which is why UAB has recruited a diverse new cohort of students.

Michael Faircloth, MD, the director of the Alabama Area Health Education Centers program and the medical and lab director of Student Health Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tells UAB.edu, “The focus of the program is to take students who are pursuing careers in various health professions and make sure they receive a portion of their clinical training in rural and underserved areas. Many people think of doctors and nurses when they hear the term health professions, but a successful health care workforce needs more than doctors and nurses. It needs dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, social workers and technologists.”

UAB’s new Alabama Area Health Education Centers scholars will be enrolled in the program for two years, working with leaders in the state’s five AHEC regions. To learn more about UAB’s new program to address health care needs in rural and underserved communities across Alabama, visit here.

University of Alabama at Birmingham Offers Nurse Practitioner Residency to Improve Access to Mental Health Care for Children

University of Alabama at Birmingham Offers Nurse Practitioner Residency to Improve Access to Mental Health Care for Children

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing and Children’s of Alabama recently partnered on a new one-year residency program for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner graduates to meet the growing need for mental health care providers for children and adolescents in the state.

Children’s of Alabama Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Deb Wesley tells UAB.edu, “Children’s needs more practitioners to cover the volume of patients we have in psychiatry. The demand for services far exceeds our capacity, and how to meet this need has been an ongoing discussion. This residency is an example of the power of the partnership between Children’s and the UAB School of Nursing, and the impact, working together, we can have on children and families in Alabama.”

UAB’s nurse residency program has two main goals: to improve the quality and quantity of clinical experience for new Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner graduates and current students, and to increase access to care. Improving the post-graduate experience for nurse practitioners makes them more likely to transition to the demands of practice with increased competency.

Residents in the program will spend a year being mentored by Durand and Children’s of Alabama Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Residency Program Co-Director Shelley Lauterbach while also seeing and treating patients. They will receive an enhanced interprofessional practice experience by working with psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, pharmacists, and case managers, making them better prepared to address child and adolescent mental health needs after residency.

To learn more about the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s partnership with Children’s of Alabama to offers a nurse practitioner residency program to improve access to mental health for children and adolescents, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Lindsey Moore Westenhofer Inspired to Become Nursing Director of the US Space and Rocket Center

Nurse of the Week: Lindsey Moore Westenhofer Inspired to Become Nursing Director of the US Space and Rocket Center

Our Nurse of the Week is Lindsey Westenhofer, the Director of Nursing for the US Space and Rocket Center (USSRC), a career path she chose after shadowing her mom at a young age while her mother was a nursing student.

Westenhofer tells UAH.edu, “My mother began her graduate nursing education when I was a young girl, so I have known since I can remember that I had an insatiable interest in all of the natural sciences but, in particular, anything relating to the human body. I remember begging to listen in on her nursing school conference calls. And, I frequently got into trouble for pulling out her books so I could ‘read’ them.”

It’s no surprise that Westenhofer decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps and earn a nursing degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing. She completed her preceptorship in pediatrics, which has remained a theme in her nursing career.

Westenhofer is now the Director of Nursing for USSRC where she oversees 50 staff members and over 1,000 campers per week during peak seasons. The USSRC facility holds two on-campus nursing clinics for use by campers, chaperones, museum guests, and employees, and their nursing staff provides emergent response coverage for the entire campus.

In addition to serving as director, Westenhofer is also responsible for educating staff on relevant healthcare topics and managing the instruction of American Heart Association Basic Life Support courses. She also designed and implemented a Medical Alert System for the USSRC campus, which she now teaches.

To learn more about Lindsey Westenhofer, the Director of Nursing for the US Space and Rocket Center, and how she was inspired to pursue a career in nursing after shadowing her mother from a young age, visit here.

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