Posted on Dec 13, 2019

Top USF College of Nursing Stories of 2019

Top USF College of Nursing Stories of 2019

As the year draws to a close, the USF College of Nursing is reflecting on the top stories that marked a year of accomplishments for our nursing students, faculty, and staff. Here’s a list of what made this year so special:

USF College of Nursing professor Connie Visovsky received a $2.2 million National Cancer Institute grant to study the neuromuscular effects of a cancer drug. The five-year study will examine whether a home-based exercise program will lower the severity of nerve and muscle symptoms from chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Dr. Visovsky was also named the Lewis and Leona Hughes Endowed Chair in Nursing Science, a prestigious faculty position established in collaboration with the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation.

Earlier in the year, a national ranking of graduate schools named the USF College of Nursing’s graduate nursing programs among the top 50 according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Graduate School list. In the list, the College of Nursing rose 14 spots to No. 41 among master’s nursing programs and jumped 25 spots to No. 41 among Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs.

In January, the college announced the expansion of its Accelerated Second Degree nursing program to the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses. The inaugural cohort at USF St. Petersburg began in Fall 2019, and another is slated to begin at USF Sarasota-Manatee in Spring 2020. The St. Pete cohort features former college softball standout Meghan King, who decided to put softball on the back burner to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a nurse.

The College of Nursing welcomed 40 doctoral graduates into the nursing profession this year, and for the first time, graduates donned white coats during formal ceremonies in July and December. The White Coat Ceremony is a symbol of their entrance into the profession as doctorally prepared nurses and a rite of passage into health care professions. 

Over the summer, College of Nursing professor Cecile Lengacher was awarded one of nursing’s highest professional achievements when she was inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. The lifetime commendation recognizes nurse scientists whose work has made a significant and sustained impact on global health and a positive influence on others through mentorship. Dr. Lengacher was also named to the Lyall and Beatrice Nursing Professorship in Oncology.

Sometimes giving back starts in our backyard. The College of Nursing started the Peds to Succeed program, a new community outreach initiative that pairs pediatric nursing students with at-risk youth in neighborhood community centers. The partnership has the college teaming up with the City of Tampa Police Department which runs the R.I.C.H. Houses in Sulphur Springs and Robles Park. Nursing leadership also joined the Tampa Police department in celebrating the grand reopening of the Sulphur Springs R.I.C.H. House.

Nursing graduate Roberto Velasco received the prestigious Outstanding Graduate Award at the May commencement. The recognition is one of USF’s highest university-wide honors given to a graduating undergraduate who exemplifies leadership, academic excellence, community volunteerism, and school spirit. Also in May, the College of Nursing conferred degrees to 375 nursing students during its spring semester pinning and commencement exercises.

International nursing expanded locally this year, as the college’s global nursing program recruited two former Peace Corps volunteers to pursue their nursing degrees as Coverdell Fellows. Logan Marx brings his experience as a community health specialist working in Ecuador, while Hannah Dexter spent two years as a community health extension worker in Paraguay.

Student anesthetist April Morris overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to become a nurse anesthetist and graduated from the CRNA program in December. Her inspiring story illustrates anything is possible when you strive to “Do More.” 

This year, the College of Nursing launched the Alexander and Victoria L. Rich Distinguished Lecture Series, a signature speaker program that hosts prominent thought leaders in health care and health sciences. In May, Margaret Grey, the former dean of the Yale School of Nursing, was the inaugural speaker and she spoke about the self-management of diabetes.

Compiled by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing