An Unprecedented Year: Top Stories at the USF College of Nursing
USF Health College of Nursing faculty, students, and alumni rallied to the forefront as the region responded to the pandemic. Nursing students completed an astounding 20,221 hours of COVID-related community relief volunteer hours since the spring. The service projects were varied and far-reaching. Bull nurses assisted the transport of COVID testing specimens and communication with family members in the peri-operative waiting room at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, volunteered at the county-run COVID-19 testing sites, and partnered with the Hillsborough County Health Department to send teams of graduate nursing students to long-term care facilities to strengthen their infection control measures.
College of Nursing PhD student Angelica Bernal was one of many students and alumni who volunteered to be deployed into the hardest-hit neighborhoods in New York during April and May. Nursing students also staffed several Hillsborough County Back-to-School Health Fairs and helped administer the flu vaccine at USF Health Drive-Thru Flu Drives.
In November, Sarasota philanthropists David Kotok and Christine Schlesinger donated $57,000 to start a new COVID-19 training program to help nurses stay safe while treating patients during the pandemic. The four-part educational series “Frontline Nursing During COVID-19: A New Paradigm” will be offered virtually to nurses locally, statewide, and nationally starting in January.
After nine months as interim dean, Usha Menon, PhD, RN, FAAN, was officially appointed as the new dean of the USF Health College of Nursing and senior associate vice president of USF Health in November. She joined USF Health in September 2018 as Professor and Vice Dean of Research for the College. Dr. Menon is the sixth dean since the college was founded in 1973.
The start of 2020 kicked off with the grand opening of the new USF Health College of Nursing Skills Lab at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to support its new Accelerated Second Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree pathway. Designed for students who already have earned a bachelor’s degree, the pathway offers students the ability to earn a nursing degree through an intensive four-semester, 16-month program.
In August, the USF College of Nursing launched the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Faculty program. The new program, in conjunction with the DAISY Foundation, honors a nursing faculty member’s valuable contributions and celebrates the compassionate work of nursing educators.
In December, Assistant Professor Brittany Hay, known for her patience and ability to inspire and mentor nursing students, received the college’s inaugural DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty.
The USF Health College of Nursing rolled out a new collaboration with Port Tampa Bay in 2020. The partnership will improve COVID-19 infection control and safety measures for maritime workers and establish the country’s first on-site nursing faculty practice at the port to provide health checks to the vulnerable seafarer’s population.
The multi-phased project, “Supporting Healthy Infection Prevention Practices (SHIPP),” will be implemented over three years and give nurse practitioner students in the adult-gerontology, occupational health, and family concentrations the opportunity for hands-on clinical training with a wide range of maritime workers.
In October, USF Health College of Nursing Associate Professor Ponrathi Athilingam, PhD, RN, ACNP, MCH, FAANP, FHFSA, was inducted into the 2020 class of Fellows in the American Academy of Nursing. The nurse researcher specializes in technology-based interventions to improve the self-care of heart failure patients. Dr. Athilingam was among a group of 230 distinguished nurse leaders who received the honor this year.
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists chose College of Nursing Assistant Professor Karla Maldonado, DrAp, CRNA, APRN, as the 2020 recipient of the Janice Drake CRNA Humanitarian Award, a prestigious honor recognizing a nurse anesthetist who provides anesthesia, education, and training in some of the most underserved areas in the world.
The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute awarded $2.8 million to College of Nursing Associate Professor Hsiao-Lan Wang, PhD, RN, CMSRN, ACSM EP-C, FAAN, to study whether using a popular fitness gaming system could minimize the fatigue and pain that many head and neck cancer patients face after treatment.
College of Nursing admissions recruiter advisor Ashley Ros won three awards at the annual USF Outstanding Staff Awards virtual ceremony. She received an Outstanding Staff Award, an Outstanding Team Award, and the Employee of the Year honor. The awards are the highest staff recognition given to USF employees.
University of South Florida nurse anesthesia graduate student and Marine Corps veteran Matthew Jenkins was selected as a 2020 Tillman Scholar through the Pat Tillman Foundation. He was the only student from a Florida university in this year’s class. Jenkins joins an elite group of 60 U.S. service members, veterans, and military spouses receiving the honor.
Compiled by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing