USF Nursing recognized by First Lady at national nursing summit on veterans’ health care

April 16, 2012 (Tampa, FL) – First Lady Michelle Obama recognized some life-changing research being conducted at the University of South Florida College of Nursing during a speech last week at a national summit meeting addressing health care for veterans. A select group of nursing leaders gathered at the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday to discuss how nursing education and research can best prepare the nursing profession to meet the special health needs of our nation’s military, veterans and their families. The summit took place on the one-year anniversary of the Joining Forces campaign begun by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden as a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.

“At the University of South Florida College of Nursing, they’re even testing a new therapy to treat PTSD.  And one of their patients is a veteran named Josh Thomas. And since returning from Afghanistan, Josh had been suffering from insomnia, anxiety, nightmares, high blood pressure, depression.  But after just two therapy sessions, he saw dramatic improvements,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And as he put it — and these are his words — he said, ‘before the therapy, I didn’t feel I had any control over my life, or the sinking feeling of drowning.  But after the second session, I feel I have some control, and am actually swimming — getting somewhere.  This therapy changed my life.’  Those were his words.”

Thomas was a participant in a current USF College of Nursing research study on the effectiveness of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) to reduce veterans’ symptoms of PTSD including depression, anxiety and sleep dysfunction. This was one of many topics covered by USF’s own Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN, senior associate vice president of USF Health, and dean of the College of Nursing. She was one of only 20 deans of nursing programs invited to this key national summit meeting. She presented the many initiatives that the USF College of Nursing has in place to both educate nursing students in the unique needs of military-related health issues, as well as the ground-breaking research being conducted by USF nurse scientists and faculty to help veterans suffering from health issues like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Accompanying Dean Morrison-Beedy from USF was Carrie Elk, PhD, LMHC, CTE, nursing military liaison and co-investigator for the USF College of Nursing ART research study.

“I was honored to be one of the summit presenter’s as we shared our initiatives to use as models of success to inspire other nursing programs throughout the nation,” said Dean Morrison-Beedy. “The USF College of Nursing has been a leader in veterans’ health issues through education and research for many years, due to Florida’s large veteran population. To be able to sit down and have real dialog on handling these issues on a national level is both satisfying and inspiring at the same time.”

The summit meeting emphasized the commitment of 150 state and national nursing organizations and over 500 nursing schools to further educate the nation’s 3 million nurses and future nurses on how to recognize and care for veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other combat-related issues, in ways appropriate to each nurse’s practice setting. Veterans seeking care within the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system are often treated by health care professionals who have received extensive training in mental health issues.  However, most veterans in the country seek care outside of the VA system, usually visiting their local hospital staffed by nurses and doctors in their communities.According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation with over 1.6 million from World War II to the present This is one reason why the USF College of Nursing has a long history of supporting our nation’s service members, veterans and their families with workforce issues, innovative educational programs and out-of-the-box nursing research conducted by our world class faculty.

“We will continue in our efforts to support the Joining Forces campaign as a national nursing leader,” said Dean Morrison-Beedy “We will host a RESTORE LIVES: Nursing Education and Research in Veterans Health conference where the nation’s finest nurse educators and scientists will Join Forces to focus on nursing education and research designed to meet the needs of veterans, service members and their families.”

The conference will be held Nov. 13, 2012, at the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in Tampa, FL.

“So quite simply, nurses are the front line of America’s health care system.  Every day, with your hard work, with your skill, your compassion, nurses determine the quality of care that we all receive,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in her speech.

-USF Health-

USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a global research university ranked 50th in the nation by the National Science Foundation for both federal and total research expenditures among all U.S. universities.

Media contact:
Ashlea Hudak,  College of Nursing Communications
(813) 396-9642 or