Posted on Aug 6, 2020

Nurse Researcher Named Fellow in American Academy of Nursing

Nurse Researcher Named Fellow in American Academy of Nursing

A University of South Florida nursing researcher specializing in technology-based interventions to improve self-care of heart failure patients has been named a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Fellowship into the organization is the most prestigious national recognition of accomplishments within the nursing profession. Honorees are recognized for having made national and international contributions to nursing and health care.

College of Nursing Associate Professor Ponrathi Athilingam, PhD, RN, ACNP, MCH, FAANP, FHFSA, will be inducted into the 2020 class of fellows at the American Academy of Nursing’s virtual policy conference in late October.

Dr. Athilingam is among a group of 230 distinguished nurse leaders to receive the honor this year. The inductees represent 39 states, the District of Columbia, as well as 13 countries.

The total number of academy fellows stand at more than 2,700. Members include hospital and government administrators, college deans, and nurse scientists and researchers.

At the College of Nursing, currently 16 faculty members are American Academy of Nursing fellows.

Dr. Athilingam described the invitation to become a fellow as a blessing and that she was truly humbled to be asked to apply.

“This is an honor for any nurse. Being inducted into the academy is one of the dreams, and God has been good to me. I’m thrilled and happy to represent our college and support what our college has offered me, to excel in my career as a teacher, practitioner, and nurse researcher,” she said.

As a leading nurse expert in heart failure symptom self-management, Dr. Athilingam’s research is focused on cognitive training and technology-based interventions to improve the self-care of heart failure patients.

She developed the patient-centered mobile application called HeartMapp, which helps heart failure patients follow complex medication and self-care regimens at home to stay healthy, thus reducing the costly re-admissions to the hospital. The mobile app is currently being tested for usability and efficacy through a National Institutes of Health-funded Small Business Innovation Research grant.

The American Academy of Nursing has named Dr. Ponrathi Athilingam into its 2020 class of new fellows.

Currently, she is developing a mobile application called TussisWatch for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to improve self-care using artificial intelligence. She is proposing to test the TussisWatch in patients that tested positive for COVID-19.

In 2012, Dr. Athilingam became a fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. In 2016, she became a fellow of the Heart Failure Society of America and was recognized with the “Nurse Researcher of the Year Award.”

Applicants into the academy require sponsorship letters from two current members. The selection committee also considers whether a potential fellow has shown significant contributions to nursing and health care, as well as having a nursing career that has influenced health policies.

College of Nursing Interim Dean Usha Menon, PhD, RN, FAAN, one of Dr. Athilingam’s sponsors, said she supported the nurse researcher’s induction into the academy.

“Her work is fully aligned with national trends in self-management of chronic diseases, decreasing hospital re-admission, and optimizing the effectiveness and reach of digital health,” wrote Dr. Menon.

Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, RN, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, the Chief Talent and Global Strategy Officer at The Ohio State University’s College of Nursing, also endorsed Dr. Athilingam’s application.

“Dr. Athilingam has a well-defined, substantial and sustained record of research productivity that has contributed to the science in heart failure and heart disease causes, and developing the technology to diagnosis and self-manage cardiovascular risk, along with raising awareness of heart failure symptoms,” she wrote.

Dr. Morrison-Beedy, the former dean at the USF College of Nursing, has known the nurse scientist since 2002 when she helped recruit Dr. Athilingam to the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing PhD program. Dr. Athilingam later followed her early research mentor to USF in 2011.

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing