Passing on Her Passion
Janine Overcash, PhD, ARNP
In teaching nursing students the intricacies of doing patient assessments, Janine Overcash, PhD, ARNP, makes it clear that the typical patient is not what is depicted on Grey’s Anatomy. “Older patients are the primary consumers of health care services. I try to sensitize student to the fact that much of the time, as a nurse in a hospital setting, that’s who they will be seeing,” says Overcash, an assistant professor of nursing at USF Health.
In addition, if current demographic trends continue, cancer will become primarily a disease of older individuals, she says. And that means nursing students must focus on combining the principles of caring for the elderly with the special circumstances involved in caring for the older person with cancer — Overcash’s area of expertise, as well as her passion.
“I have always wanted to be a nurse,” says Overcash. “I became interested in aging and care of older adults while in high school volunteering in a nursing home.” During graduate school at USF, she conducted research in aging and advancing nursing care of the older adult, specifically geriatric assessment, and working at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center focused her on geriatric oncology. The recipient of a prestigious Hartford Foundation post-doctoral fellowship, Overcash has published widely on topics including aging, the role of the nurse in geriatric oncology, older women with breast cancer, constructing comprehensive geriatric assessments and geriatric nursing protocols for best practice.
Overcash says that the curriculum in USF’s College of Nursing is demanding, but students are highly motivated and committed to achievement. She particularly enjoys teaching undergraduates and sharing stories about her experiences as a young nurse. “We work hard but we laugh a lot, too.”
That sense of camaraderie along with an office door that is always open to students enables Overcash to carry out what she believes is one of the most important roles of a university professor — mentorship — including modeling a positive outlook towards the nursing profession. “One of the first things my students hear me say is how much I love nursing.”
She also loves her teaching at USF. “USF provides the tools for academic success for students as well as faculty,” she says. “It’s an energetic and positive place to work.”