Our Nurse of the Week is Sara
Croley, a University of Tennessee (UT) College of Nursing alumna who
recently gave a $7.5 million donation to the university, making it the largest
donation in the college’s history. Croley hopes her donation will go toward ‘investing
in the future of nursing,’ ultimately helping to decrease the burden of current
nationwide nursing shortages. The donation was made in partnership with Croley’s
husband, Ross Croley.
to UT officials, $5.5 million of the donation will support the College of
Nursing’s building renovations, and $2 million will establish the Sara
Rosenbalm Croley Endowed Dean’s Chair. The $60 million renovation project will
allow the college to increase enrollment. The college has had to turn away
qualified applicants in the past due to a lack of space and resources.
Croley tells WBIR.com, “Having worked as a nurse for many years, I have cared for people during some of their most difficult moments. Nurses play such an important role in people’s lives. Ross and I are investing in the future of nursing in Tennessee. We hope this gift opens a door of opportunity for many more amazing nurses to enter the workforce.”
US Bureau of Labor predicts a nationwide shortage of 1.2 million registered
nurses between 2014 and 2022. According to UT, the majority of Bachelor of
Science in Nursing students work in Tennessee after graduation, with an
estimated 45 to 60 percent remaining in the Knoxville area specifically. Pending approval from the UT Board of Trustees, the
renovated nursing building will be named the Croley Nursing Building. It’s
projected to be about 100,000 square feet, more than twice the size of the
To learn more about Sara Croley, a University of Tennessee College
of Nursing alumna who recently gave a $7.5 million donation to the university to ‘invest in the future of nursing,’ visit here.
Our Nurses of the Week are the nursing students from West Carolina University’s School of Nursing who volunteered to provide services at a free rural health care clinic in eastern Tennessee. More than 10 students provided patients with medical, dental, and vision care. Over a thousand people attended the free clinic over a period of three days during which the clinic provided an estimated $883,456 in free medical care.
Elizabeth Sexton, WCU assistant professor of nursing and an excursion leader, tells WCU.edu, “These students from community mental health nursing practicum class were up at 4 a.m. to take part in the clinical services. They got exposure to it all, from triaging patients, giving flu shots to helping in the dental and vision areas. They also got to see the big picture. For whatever reason, whether lack of health insurance, lack of resources, inadequate healthy nutrition, poor dental hygiene or substance abuse, the needy individuals were there and seeking help for dental, vision and medical problems, and so appreciative to receive it.”
Remote Area Medical is a nonprofit organization based in Rockford, Tennessee, since 1985 and has held mobile clinics for uninsured and underserved families and individuals, assisted by health care professionals and students. Its mission is to prevent pain and alleviate suffering and to enhance quality of life through the delivery of competent and compassionate health care to those who are impoverished, isolated, and underserved in the US.
To learn more about the West Carolina University nursing students who volunteered to provide healthcare services at Remote Area Medical’s mobile clinic, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Saman Perera, a Tennessee-native nurse fighting healthcare inequality through Doctors Without Borders. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Hendersonville, TN, Perera decided to join Doctors Without Borders after graduating from nursing school and is now setting an example for his community on how to get involved in global humanitarian efforts.
After attending the University of Illinois for his bachelor’s degree in nursing and Vanderbilt University for his master’s degree, Perera embarked on his first mission to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake to help with the cholera outbreak there. His missions have also taken him to work in primary care in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the frontlines of Chad treating war-wounded victims.
However, Perera was most recently stationed on a two-month medical mission in Bentiu, South Sudan, working in a refugee camp hospital made up of 130,000 residents. The camp was created as a result of a civil war breakout in the area. Although his missions often take him to volatile, war-torn environments lacking housing and running water, Perera says the toughest aspect of his job is managing the emotions involved. Perera has found that the best way to cope with the emotions of treating victims of war is to focus on task-oriented jobs like training local nurses.
For Perera, his work with Doctors Without Borders goes beyond just nursing and medicine. He tells UTDailyBeacon.com, “I realized that medicine, for me, is a Band-Aid to something a lot bigger; we’re talking wars, huge injustices, malnutrition in countries like Congo. For me, my presence there and the presence of Doctors Without Borders is more than medicine, it’s a way of saying injustice is not okay.”
Perera recently moved to Knoxville, TN after returning from his two-month mission in South Sudan. He plans to work as a hospital nurse practitioner while he prepares for another Doctors Without Borders mission trip. In his spare time, Perera encourages other current and future healthcare workers to get involved in global aid and serve those in need.
To learn more about Perera’s time as a medical mission nurse for Doctors Without Borders, visit here.
Our Nurses of the Week are Kyle Cook, 53, and Carla Saunders, 51, neonatal nurse practitioners at a children’s hospital in Knoxville, TN. After decades spent caring for infants, these two nurses recognized a major problem when they had six babies in the nursery at once suffering from substance withdrawal. After looking to experts for answers on how to treat these delicate patients, they discovered that no one yet had the answers, and became the experts themselves.
It was 2010 when Cook and Saunders began to see the effects of the opioid crisis themselves. The first time they realized that they had a problem was when they had six babies suffering at once, but that number quickly began to grow. Cook, 53, tells NPR.org:
“We couldn’t fix it; we couldn’t make these babies better. Little did we know that was the tip of the iceberg. We had 10, and then 15, and then, at one point, 37 babies in the NICU that were withdrawing. We were bursting at the seams.”
Unprepared and short-staffed, they knew they needed to find a new solution because their current practice wasn’t helping the inconsolable infants they were attempting to treat. They worked at a small children’s hospital, but knew that the problem they were facing was a representation of a greater substance abuse problem happening all over the US.
When they called across the country looking for experts to advise them on how to treat these special patients, they discovered that nobody had the answers. They were left to find the answers themselves, and wound up helping to establish one of the first treatment protocols for babies exposed to opioids and a program connecting mothers with treatment and therapy options.
To learn more about Cook and Saunders’ experience treating babies suffering from opioid withdrawal, listen to the full podcast below:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Nursing has been named a National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) in recognition of their commitment to gerontological nursing. NHCGNE is dedicated to optimal health and quality of life for older adults and recognizes nursing schools across the country that have demonstrated commitment to the field.
Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the UTK College of Nursing, tells TNToday.UTK.edu, “With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 years old daily, the demands for health care and caregiving for our aging population will continue to increase for many years to come. Designation as an NHCGNE demonstrates our commitment to research, practice, and education in the area of aging, dementia, and caregiving.”
Several faculty members in the UTK College of Nursing are conducting cutting-edge research on caregiving for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Through a partnership with the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic at UT Medical Center, researchers are addressing the needs of Tennessee and rural populations in Appalachia to determine how to best optimize clinical care for the region and develop models of care.
As a member in the NHCGNE, UTK’s College of Nursing will have access to leaders in the aging and gerontological nursing field, in addition to educational resources designed to strengthen its partnerships and programs. Karen Rose, UTK McMahan-McKinley Professor of Gerontology, tells TNToday.UTK.edu, “The needs of Tennesseans mirror the needs of patients with dementia and their family members across our country. Our goal is to produce real-world solutions to the challenges that many people face when dealing with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.”
To learn more about the UTK College of Nursing and its work in gerontological nursing, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Adaya Troyer, a senior nursing student and undergraduate researcher at the University of Tennessee (UT) Knoxville who is using her own experience to help young children with asthma understand and manage their condition. Troyer was only two years old when she was diagnosed with asthma and now she hopes to help others thrive with the condition from a young age.
Troyer first began to understand her asthma as an elementary school student when she was given an educational video game that taught her what triggers an attack and how to react. Through her research, Troyer has discovered that educational materials about asthma for young children are nonexistent, especially for those too young to read. However, this is the age group most in need of these materials as kids younger than five are the most at risk of hospitalization.
Hoping to fill that void, Troyer’s goal is to create an iPad app. She tells TNToday.UTK.edu, “I believe that educating children early will help them understand and manage their illnesses by the time they are in school, which will decrease hospitalizations as well as social stigma placed on children by peers in their schools.” She has presented her research at the National Council on Undergraduate Research conference in Memphis, Legislative Day in Nashville, and the Southern Nursing Research Society conference in Dallas. Troyer will also present at an international nursing research conference in Ireland this July.
Upon graduation, Troyer plans to continue her work on this research project. Creating her asthma learning tool for kids will allow her to broaden the scope of her work. She will also be a participant in the Tennessee Fellowship for Graduate Excellence program, and will begin pursuing a nurse practitioner license and PhD this summer.
Troyer’s research is being highlighted by UT as part of their eighth-annual Research Week, highlighting the everyday impacts of faculty and student research. Over 1,400 UT undergraduate students are involved in research to enhance their learning process and career preparation.
To learn more about Adaya Troyer and other undergraduate nurse researchers like her, visit here.