JMU Nursing Magazine 2020

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Nursing The official magazine of the School of


Celebrating 40 years of living out our mission of “Being the Change� at local, national and international levels.

TABLE OF CONTENTS 2 Letter from the director By Melody Eaton 3 School of Nursing timeline 5 In the beginning: Interview with professor emerita Judy Holt By Linda Hulton 9 A foundation for excellence By Victoria Martineau Heim 10 Fostering community engagement and innovation By Melody Eaton 11 Expanding for the future 12 Creating a national presence 13 Health policy and advocacy embedded at every level of nursing education By Melody Eaton, Andrea Knopp and Jamie Robinson 15 Faculty on the front lines: JMU Nursing faculty assist with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts By Victoria Martineau Heim 17 A year to remember: NYC JMU alumnae work together and lend support during pandemic By Christina Lam



19 JMU School of Nursing well prepared for switch to virtual simulation By Eric Gorton 20 JMU faculty and students care for our most vulnerable By Michele Dombrowski 21 Agents of change: Doctor of Nursing Practice By Linda Hulton 22 From winning project to practice By Betsy Herron 23 DNP alumnae implement COVID-19 protocol 25 Advanced practice leading the way: The MSN program By Andrea Knopp 26 MSN alumni highlights 27 Embodying the change: The RN-BSN program By Victoria Martineau Heim 28 RN-BSN alumni highlights 29 The impact of giving: A donor’s story 29 Help us celebrate 40 years of nursing: Give 40 for 40!

30 Julie Strunk becomes a fellow in the AAN By Sara Banton 31 JMU honors college and Nursing collaborate to grow JMU Nursing Honors Scholars 32 Nursing convocation awards and recognitions: December 2019 and May 2020 34 Alumni update 2020

Editorial team Victoria Martineau Heim Michele Dombrowski Melody Eaton Christine Letsky-Anderson Graphic design Josh See Photography CHBS Creative Services team Nursing faculty and students JMU Creative Media team Michele Dombrowski Ashley Robinson Photography Special thanks to JMU Special Collections for historical information and photos

“The James Madison University School of Nursing is excited to celebrate our 40th anniversary! This magazine is dedicated to 40 years of living out our mission of “Being the Change” at local, national and international levels.” – Melody Eaton,

JMU Nursing professor and director

Welcome, Readers! The COVID-19 global pandemic spurred rapid changes throughout our world, including within higher education. As a result, we proactively moved our spring 2020 semester courses to an online format after spring break. Classroom-based courses continued to offer high-engagement activities to support students’ learning while clinically-based courses were augmented with virtual simulation, consisting of patient scenarios that required student decision-making. As we continue to navigate uncharted waters, our programs are moving forward this academic year to include a combination of hi-flex, hybrid, and online learning modalities with face-to-face practicum and simulation experiences, all while maintaining safety guidelines for our students and faculty. On another front, the JMU School of Nursing is committed to responding to the movement for social change related to racism, inequity, access and inclusion. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, we are actively working with students, faculty, staff and our communities to understand and effectively improve our social presence and engagement through system and curriculum improvements and relational understanding. Additionally, I am proud to announce the James Madison University School of Nursing is nationally recognized for academic excellence and innovative contributions to health care with top rankings: • #12 BSN College Resource Network Nursing Schools Nationwide Best Colleges • #6 RN to BSN 30 Best Value colleges for Nursing in the South • #1 2019 Best Online RN to BSN Programs in Virginia • #82 MSN Program; US News & World Report • #61 Best On-Line Graduate Nursing Programs; US News & World Report During this incredible time, we are honored to share stories of our JMU Nursing community coming together and enacting positive change, whether in the center of the COVID-19 pandemic in another city or state or here in the Valley. I hope that you will read more about our school’s history and how our students, faculty and alumni—both past and present—contribute to the tradition of “Being the Change.” We hold great hope for the future and invite you to join us in celebrating 40 years of JMU Nursing. Best Regards, Melody Eaton, PhD, RN, FAAN Director and Professor James Madison University School of Nursing 2020


The College of Nursing begins, housed first in Wilson Hall.

Academic Unit Head Vida Huber The College of Nursing moves to the Wine-Price building.

Service oriented-IPE, founder of IIHHS

45 BSN students 8 faculty

1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 20

21 BSN students 4 faculty

Dean Marcia Dake Champion of the program, strength, advocacy



Nursing became one of six departments in the College of Integrated Science and Technology, located on East Campus.

Nursing became one of three departments in the College of Health and Human Services and relocated to the Harrison Hall Annex.

Nursing joins the new College of Health and Behavioral Studies and is relocated to Burruss Hall.

Director Julie Sanford Continued program growth, national/international status

120 BSN students 13 MSN students 8 RN-BSN students 27 faculty

180 BSN students 25 MSN students 41 RN-BSN students 10 DNP students

246 BSN students 37 MSN students 168 RN-BSN students 13 DNP students

42 faculty

48 faculty, 10 faculty emeritae and 14 staff

000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

The School of Nursing is relocated to the new Health and Behavioral Studies building.

Academic Unit Head Merle Mast Program growth!

Director Melody Eaton Health policy, advocacy, leadership NEW ERA OF OPPORTUNITIES! 2020



Left: Hired in 1981, Judy Holt quickly proved to be a dynamic faculty member who was instrumental in shaping the JMU nursing program for the first 20 years. She provided a level of clinical expertise that enabled and inspired over 1500 nursing students to achieve excellence. Holt considers her greatest accomplishment to be the legacy of her students.

– Judy Holt

JMU Nursing professor emerita



Tell me about your memories of the start-up of the JMU nursing program. During the 1960-70s, JMU started exploring the idea of developing some

Above: Maureen Chambers receives nursing program’s first pin from President Ronald Carrier as Dean Marcia Dake looks on. pre-nursing courses in conjunction with the Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s nursing program. That program was highly respected in the community and the administrators wanted to support the RMH nursing students by preparing them in the prerequisite science courses so the students could eventually go on to finish their Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing if they desired. During the 1970s, many of the hospital diploma nursing programs

“The first nursing class of 21 students was admitted in 1980 with four nursing faculty supporting the new program.” – Judy Holt,

JMU Nursing professor emerita

were closing. Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s nursing program opened in 1912 and closed in 1977. JMU’s President Dr. Carrier was always a great supporter of a nursing program at JMU and he began a State Council on Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) proposal in 1972. There was initially some opposition to the proposal locally with concerns about the expense of a new nursing program and concerns about the ongoing recruitment of nurses to staff the healthcare systems in the Shenandoah Valley. There was a strong feeling that students may not stay in the Valley, but continue their careers elsewhere. Finally, SCHEV approved the proposal in 1979 and Dr. Marcia Dake was hired as the first department head. The first nursing class of 21 students was admitted in 1980 with four nursing faculty supporting the new program. What were some of the challenges you faced in the early days of the program? The applications from students was overwhelming and the faculty had a difficult time choosing which of the outstanding students to admit to the new program. It was a painful process and many parents complained to the Board of Visitors about the selection process.

Judith Holt (center) supervises students nurses Terry Mooney (left) and Sharon Liskey as they enter information on a patient’s chart. The writing of the curriculum and preparing for the immense challenges of acquiring clinical sites in the community was a challenge. We also had the overwhelming job of recruiting and selecting faculty in a time when they would choose to take a salary that was much less than they could make working in the hospitals as a nurse. In the end, three nursing colleagues developed the curriculum and arranged for all the student clinicals over one summer. Most of us did not have any teaching experience, but we were expert clinicians. I remember as a clinical instructor, I would have seven to nine students on a floor and was responsible for 12 to 18 patients on any particular day. Finally, in the summer of 1982, we wrote the accreditation papers to be submitted to the National League for Nursing (NLN). Once the program was up and running and we had received accreditation, President Carrier was sent on sabbatical and another university administrator was in charge of the budget. Nursing

has always been expensive due to the number of faculty required in the clinical arena to supervise students. Some of the Board of Visitors were questioning the financial viability of the program and were also concerned that the nursing graduates were moving on to bigger medical centers like Duke and Johns Hopkins and not staying in the Valley. When President Carrier got word of this, he came out of sabbatical and we had a big meeting. Parents, students and patients began to write letters to the Board of Visitors and the local hospital administrators to show support of the program – and it was saved. What do you remember about Dr. Marcia Dake, JMU Nursing’s first Department Chair? Marcia was a champion for the program, but a real taskmaster. She was tried-and-true to the program and respected the opinions of the faculty that were hired. She had a lot on her back due to the negativity of the early days of the program and she had to spend a lot of time convincing the administrators about the need for financial resources for the program. But, she had a kind heart. I remember



What kinds of opportunities do you remember having during the early days of the program?

that day that I interviewed, my babysitter fell through. She said it was okay to bring along my 5-year-old son who sat in my lap during the entire interview. What do you remember about Dr. Vida Huber who came after Dr. Dake retired? Vida and I lived in the same neighborhood and our children were such good friends. We had collaborated on many projects previously while she was on faculty at Eastern Mennonite University. Her Mennonite background gave her a deep heart for service. The Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services (IIHHS) began as an idea in the nursing department and then she made it a reality when she became Associate Dean. Vida Huber, JMU Nursing Department Head 1988-1999

A tradition of jumping in Newman Lake in full uniform to celebrate the end of classes was short lived. What major changes took place on campus while you were a professor at JMU? The nursing department moved to four different locations. Originally, we had the top floor of Wilson Hall. They had to take down walls between classrooms to make a nursing lab. They couldn’t get the equipment up through the elevator, so they used a crane to hoist the hospital beds up to the top floor. Those were also the years when the nursing students would jump into N ewma n La ke after the ca p ping ceremony. Then, we moved to WinePrice which was the original dorm of the RMH School of Nursing. It was like the “ghost” of nursing past. The bottom floor was a learning lab for child development and the College of Education. Some of the children of the nursing professors were there as a day care center. We finally had a few more floors to expand our growing nursing program and properly equipped labs. Then, we moved to CISAT. We had wonderful roomy labs and large spaces including an alternative therapy lab that included massage beds, aromatherapy, etc.



Well, we were so new that we could try anything. As faculty, we had to go into the clinical settings and be really comfortable in any area. We had to educate the physicians on how to work with nursing students. Back in the early days, the nurses and the students had to give up their chairs when a physician entered the nursing station. I remember one physician who disrespected a student in front of a patient and family. I had to report him to the administration and he was reprimanded. Later, we came to an understanding and actually became friends. But, I had to demonstrate to these young students that we were into a new era of nursing and rudeness and disrespect would not be tolerated. What do you see as your greatest accomplishments during your time at JMU? I guess I’ve always been a renaissance woman. Clinical expertise has always been at my roots. I spent four years in the Navy and practiced trauma nursing/ICU in four different countries. At JMU, I was able to be tenured without a PhD. I opted to stay clinically focused Buildings and grounds crews use a crane to remove nursing equipment from the third floor of Willson Hall.

President Rose presents Holt with Distinguished Faculty Award in 1997. with a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) degree from the University of Virginia and an International Nursing Certificate from George Mason University. I’ve won numerous teaching awards and developed innovative nursing curriculum. My teaching was always informed by my “boots on the ground” clinical experiences for 16 years. I took care of Roy Rogers out in California after he had a heart attack. I’ve always taken advantage of opportunities in faculty development and I learned to love transcultural and holistic nursing through the lens of working with interdisciplinary colleagues. I’ve done a lot of really fun stuff! I worked with the HIV/AIDS network that started in Harrisonburg in the 1980s and then did some HIV/AIDS research in Hong Kong during a sabbatical in the spring of 1994. Staying active in the holistic community prompted opportunities for more holistic nursing research with massage/ acupuncture and therapeutic touch and I brought these methodologies into the fundamentals lab. Most importantly, my accomplishments have been the legacy of my students. I’ve taught over 1500 students over my 20 years in teaching. This is a small-town legacy of those students and the gifts they brought to healthcare all over the local community, states and internationally. Many of those students have now returned to faculty positions. I practice the yin/yang balance with holistic body techniques and conventional medicine. I brought students along with me in this journey. I always challenge students to acquire the balance. Technology came along and I would still encourage touch, being present, going into the room to talk to the patient before looking at the equipment, labs, or numbers. Student nurse Karen Williams practices using a syringe. 2020



Marcia Dake, dean 1980-1988 In 1987, a year before her retirement as the first and only Dean of JMU’s then College of Nursing, Marcia Dake put forth a call for “the need to dare.” She defined this call as “the need to have courage, the need to be bold, the need to not be afraid, the need to meet and resist, to face and defy, to venture, to challenge and to be brave!” These words stand the test of time, as this “need to dare” is ever more essential for nurses in today’s challenging health care environment and are a true testament to Dake’s legacy. LeeAnna Farrall (’83) with Dean Dake before presenting a paper on “Excellence in Nursing” at the 1987 convocation ceremony.



Dake was hired in July 1979 to help create a nursing program at JMU that would help alleviate the severe shortage of nurses at Rockingham Memorial Hospital and Western State Hospital in Staunton. She received her nursing diploma from Crouse Irving Hospital School of Nursing in Syracuse, NY and a bachelor of science from Syracuse University, eventually earning a masters and doctorate from Columbia University. Dake also notably served with the Army Nurses Corps in Hawaii and Japan both during and after World War II, and was dean of the college of nursing at the University of Kentucky for 14 years. Before coming to JMU, she served as the director of program development for nursing and health services for the American Red Cross. Although initially blocked by SCHEV (the State Council of High Education in Virginia), which cited that there was an adequate number of nurses to meet the demands of the state at the time, Dake, along with JMU President Ronald E. Carrier, persisted in getting the council to reverse its decision and approve the JMU nursing program. The program officially began in Fall 1980 and was developed to include two years of general studies and two years of nursing courses. Dake’s hope was to eventually accommodate those with hospital diplomas and associate degrees in nursing, and offer continuing education to practicing nurses. This hope ultimately came to pass as JMU’s nursing program moved from a department to a College of Nursing in 1982 after full accreditation by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Although the college returned to a department within JMU’s College of Health and Human Development in 1988, Dake’s stewardship started it on the course to where the School of Nursing is today, which includes a traditional BSN program, several masters programs, a doctorate of nursing practice program and a flourishing online RN-BSN program.

Throughout her nine years at JMU, Dake was instrumental in recruiting essential faculty members and securing strong relationships with local and state hospitals, as well as other healthcare organizations to become clinical partners. The growth experienced under her leadership is evidence of her forward thinking, always in the pursuit of excellence. Professor Nancy Puffenbarger (’88) shared, “When I think of Dr. Dake I think of someone who set high goals for the nursing students because she wanted all students to be excellent nurses.” Upon her retirement in 1988, Dake expressed heartfelt thanks and stated that after a career spanning four decades in nursing, “…[M]y major professional goal has been to assist young people to become all they are capable of being as professional nurses.” Today, the JMU School of Nursing stands as a proof of achievement of Dake’s goal and is proud to celebrate 40 years of excellence this year.

Above: Dean Dake acknowledges Kate Love upon receipt of the Merck award for the highest GPA. Below: Dean Dake embraces faculty Lois Waters during her retirement celebration in 1986.

FOSTERING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND INNOVATION By Melody Eaton her vision for JMU community engagement through working with a community agency in the institute that she created: The Institute for Innovation for Health and Human Services. Her creativity was inspiring, her personal philosophy of service was inspirational, and her energy level and drive was relentless. As a nurse, I especially value her vision of what the nursing profession is capable of. If I am able to serve and impact my community through my work at JMU for even a fraction of what Vida did, I will be successful and will feel fulfilled.” Vida Huber, unit head 1988-1999 In her own words, Vida Huber, JMU’s second Nursing Program leader, summed up her legacy: “I am a very creative person and when I can put my talents toward a project that will help people in the area and put my field of health and medicine into action, I find it very exhilarating. We really see the whole community as a setting in which to offer experience.” Huber, an extraordinary leader and visionary, developed numerous programs and educated both nurses and health professionals who engaged in community service. Professor Linda Hulton recalled, “Vida was my mentor and department head when I was hired in ‘98 as a brand-new faculty member. I had never taught before and had no idea about curriculum planning, etc. The first faculty meeting was held in a small conference room in Harrison Annex. The focus of the meeting was preparation for a nursing accreditation visit. Vida had stayed up all night and slept in her office so she could complete the self-study accreditation report on time. This was only the beginning of the many ways that I saw Vida go above and beyond in her servant leadership style. In that same meeting, the concept of the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services was born. She seemed to do her best dreaming on very little sleep!”

Huber was an authentic leader who believed in a greater purpose. Anyone who worked with her would say: “You just can’t say no to Vida.” She possessed the ability to motivate, mentor and empower others to achieve great initiatives, especially for vulnerable populations. A child of parents who owned and operated a nursing home, Huber learned the value of service early. She received her BSN from Eastern Mennonite University and her MA and EdD from Columbia University. Prior to coming to JMU in 1989, she was the Chair of the Nursing Program at Eastern Mennonite University. Huber was involved in the formation of a state nurses association and served in many leadership roles. Once at JMU, Huber expanded opportunities for community engagement, and her reach and oversight touched outreach programs such as the Free Clinic, Valley Aids Network and the Blue Ridge AHEC. She also founded JMU’s Institute for Innovation and Health and Human Services, which helped facilitate interprofessional/interdisciplinary opportunities bringing different disciplines such as nursing, social work, psychology and medicine together on projects to build community health infrastructure.

I can humbly state, as the fifth School of Nursing Leader at JMU, that Dr. Vida Huber is one of the reasons that I decided to move into nursing education as a career and the reason I was hired as a nursing faculty member at JMU in 1998. When you went to her with an idea, she would always say, “Now, let’s talk through how we can make this idea successful.” Vida Huber was a force of nature. She inspired innovation and community engagement. “Service is at the heart of my philosophy of life, and I believe that it is through service to others that we ourselves become more whole.”— Vida Huber, from her remarks upon receiving the James Madison Citizenship Award, March 15, 2002. Vida Huber presents the Merck Scholar Award to Art Strunk (‘92)

School of Nursing Associate Professor Erika Sawin reflected, “I worked with Vida Huber while a new professor in the early 2000s. I was lucky to catch a glimpse of



EXPANDING FOR THE FUTURE changes. As the nursing shortage intensified and JMU continued to expand, the university joined a statewide initiative to increase baccalaureate nursing program capacity. In 1999 we graduated about 40 new nurses, but we quickly began working on strategies to double, and then to triple our graduates. This required us to design high-tech learning laboratories, negotiate scarce clinical sites and learn to teach large classes using newly evolving teaching-learning technologies. Many bright, eager students applied, and by 2011 we were graduating 120 new nurses each year!

Merle Mast, unit head 1999-2011 During my 26-year career in Nursing at JMU (1990 – 2016), nursing occupied four different spaces and negotiated huge changes. In 1990 we moved from a single corridor of the Wine-Price building to Harrison Annex, where we taught skills in a small learning laboratory containing a few hand-cranked hospital beds. In 1999 we joined the College of Integrated Science and Technology (CISAT) in the Health and Human Services Building on East Campus and enjoyed larger laboratory spaces that included real equipment and a few patient simulators. In 2011, Nursing moved temporarily to Burruss Hall on the West Campus, before occupying our present new building in 2016. I served as Academic Unit Head (AUH) for 12 years (1999 – 2011). I recall our Dean asking me, as incoming AUH, to share with the Nursing faculty my vision for the future. I proposed initiating graduate programs and an RN to BSN completion program. Little did I know a national nursing shortage of entry level nurses was looming. Little did I know a national movement to launch the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) was about to begin. Th ese we re yea rs of e n o r m o u s 11


Simultaneously, the JMU administration supported our desire to grow on all fronts. In 2004 we secured federal funding to launch our first graduate programs, and in 2005 we began to offer our RN-BSN completion program. In 2008 we received JMU and State approval for our Doctor of Nursing Practice program, which, despite a national economic downturn, was funded and opened in 2012. During these years we adopted new on-line teaching platforms and expanded our relationships with partners in clinical practice. Student numbers in all our programs grew steadily and our spacious digs on the East Campus grew cramped. What a ride! These years were all about vision, strategic planning, and CHANGE as we designed new curricula, assigned new program directors, and advocated for more physical space, faculty positions, and support staff. I honed my grant-writing skills and, with other faculty, secured more than two million dollars of state and federal funding for our new programs. By 2011 our full-time faculty numbers grew from nine to 27. My career coincided with huge needs in health care and the dynamic growth of JMU as an institution. I have been so fortunate to have so many challenging and exciting opportunities to

develop, grow, and administrate new educational programs, and to engage in creative teaching and scholarship. In addition to our programs, I am proud of our engagement with community partnership programs in health care. I helped to begin, oversee and obtain ongoing grant funding for Caregivers Community Network, a service learning and respite care program founded in 2001. This program won several JMU, State and national awards for best practices in education and caregiving for frail older adults. Between 2011 and my retirement in 2016, I returned to fulltime teaching and helped to begin the DNP program, creating new courses and working with younger faculty and graduate students to engage in research and writing for publication. I have a huge sense of satisfaction and excitement about all that our faculty and students in Nursing at JMU have done – and continue to accomplish in innovative new ways. We have continued to grow and are now nationally recognized for our excellence in nursing education. Our alumni are nursing leaders. I am grateful to have been part of this exciting history!

Mast in her CISAT office.

CREATING A NATIONAL PRESENCE did start new programs with the DNP, enjoy substantial enrollment growth in all programs, and become a School of Nursing…no small feats. However, the impact of our graduates providing nursing care at its highest level is the most important outcome we can achieve. JMU nurses are outstanding!

Julie T. Sanford, director 2011-2019 I had the honor of leading the Department of Nursing and ultimately School of Nursing at James Madison University from 2011 to 2019, first as the department head and ultimately as the director. During my tenure at JMU, the school resided in the ISAT building, moved to Burruss Hall as we expanded programs and enrollment, and finally landed in the beautiful Health and Behavioral Studies Building. Change, I like to say ‘transformative change,’ was definitely a running theme. I consider faculty growth and development to be something I am most proud of while at JMU. Investment in people is the most critical step you can take as a leader. There is no better place to put resources. I found it so rewarding to see faculty and staff meet their professional and personal goals and achieve national and international recognitions and awards. When faculty grow and develop, this leads to greater learning and outstanding opportunities for students. It’s really cyclical…investment in one group leads to investment in the next and ultimately the best healthcare for our patients, families and communities, which is my priority goal as an academic nursing leader. We

My time at JMU was also transformative for me as a leader. I sometimes experienced uncertainty, but had great enthusiasm and belief in the mission of JMU and our School of Nursing. My leaders and faculty and staff hung in there with me as I grew and became more assured of the direction we needed to take. I had the encouragement of my dean, Dr. Sharon Lovell, to be active in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). I was elected to serve on AACN’s board, a privilege and honor, and provide testimony in a Senate hearing to the importance of funding for nursing education. I consider my time at JMU and in Virginia as a turning point for my growth and opportunity as an academic nursing leader. The person and leader I am today would not have been possible if it were not for those incredible experiences. I will always be grateful.

“...the impact of our graduates providing nursing care at its highest level is the most important outcome we can achieve. JMU nurses are outstanding!” – Julie Sanford JMU Nursing director, 2011-2019

Sanford with then students Kristen Ahearn (’16) and Tara O’Conner (’16), at the AACN Advocacy Day in March of 2016.




Above: Graduate students meet with a representative from Senator Mark Warner’s office on Hill Day.

Below: MSN students at the Russell Senate Building on Hill Day.

Civic engagement is emphasized across the undergraduate curriculum as it pertains to advocacy, ethics and legal issues in nursing practice. First, students are introduced to the role of the nurse as an advocate. Next, students explore ethical and legal issues, applying concepts to case studies. Finally, students participate in the Health Policy Summit to propose revisions to legislative bills, addressing ethical considerations while considering issues important to nursing. At the graduate level, students participate directly with state and federal policymakers in Richmond and Washington D.C. Advocacy and Health Policy Highlights: • All BSN students participate in the Health Policy Summit, where they work in interdisciplinary teams to develop solutions to issues affecting health. Each semester, 30 student groups collaborate to evaluate



BSN students work in interdisciplinary teams at the Health Policy Summit. current bills before Congress related to primary, secondary or tertiary levels of opioid crisis prevention. The top three solutions are presented to legislators via a brief elevator speech. Students subsequently have an opportunity to dialogue with legislators to better understand historical context, and the strengths and weaknesses of their policy positions. • At the RN-BSN level, students explore the legislative process by identifying a bill of interest, researching and providing an explanation of the bill and its history to their classmates. Students then draft a letter to their representative in support of the

bill in an effort to bring attention to active health care related legislation. • At the graduate level, students engage in a “Hill Day,” visiting either the state capitol or national Capitol Hill to present select health care related legislation. • All NP students participate in the VCNP conference (Virginia Council of NP’s), which is a state NP political advocacy organization. MSN Leadership students attend a Legislative Reception in Richmond, VA to speak to members of congress to discuss current bills.

Washington, DC. They are paired with policy makers at organizations such as the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the National Association of Home Health and Hospice and the Association of Public Health Innovation. They also spend time with legislators on Capitol Hill and attend congressional hearings. DNP students at the Capital Building during the Health Policy Institute.

• At the DNP level, students participate in the week-long Health Policy Institute immersing students into health policy organizations in



FACULTY ON THE FRONT LINES: JMU NURSING FACULTY ASSIST WITH COVID-19 CONTACT TRACING EFFORTS By Victoria Martineau Heim When news of the COVID-19 outbreak reached the JMU and Harrisonburg local community earlier this year, School of Nursing faculty were ready to help. Professor Maria Gilson deValpine recalled, “When the local outbreak revealed itself, I just called up [friend Deborah Bundy-Carpenter, Nurse Manager for the Central Shenandoah Health District] and asked if I could help out. She said YES.” Professor Emerita Sharon Zook shared the same call to action. “I was feeling useless being retired during the worst

healthcare crisis of our era,” she said. “I contacted a NP [nurse practitioner] friend who works for VDH [Virginia Department of Health] and asked if there was anything I could do to help. Within ten minutes I got an email from Deborah Bundy-Carpenter asking me to call her. I did, talked for a few minutes, and she hired me.” Both deValpine and Zook, along with Professor Linda Hulton and JMU Student Health Services Director of Nursing and Clinical Operations Kristina Blyer (’16 DNP), began work on case investigations

“Nurses are particularly good at case investigation and contact tracing by virtue of their education...”

JMU Nursing professor


According to the CDC, contract tracing is described as a “part of the process of supporting patients and warning contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission” (, 2020). As Hulton explained, “This is good ole fashioned ‘shoe leather epidemiology’ where you look for contacts of people who test positive, offer them testing, information on how to take care of themselves, and to care for and protect those around them.”

“I contacted a NP [nurse practitioner] friend who works for VDH [Virginia Department of Health] and asked if there was anything I could do to help.” – Maria Gilson deValpine


and contact tracing for the Central Shenandoah Health District immediately.

Social distancing, contact tracing, isolation, testing and treatment form the basis of the five-part public health strategy to control the SARS CoV2 pandemic in the United States and elsewhere. When these interventions are implemented simultaneously, transmission rates drop. Contact tracers help people understand why it is important to isolate if they are infected and to quarantine if they are exposed. They find resources for food, access to communication, and help those affected with explaining their situation and need to isolate to their employers. Epidemiology is not the only facet of the contact tracing effort, though. Hulton said, “…[T]here are multiple teams working on this outbreak. Some are nurses, some are dropping off food/supplies to people who are isolated, etc. There is also an active ‘language’ interpreters [team] due to the multiple languages [spoken in

this area].” When cases and their contacts understand and gain the support they need to stay home, they do what is necessary to keep everyone safe. “This [contact tracing] is not new in public health,” deValpine said. ”It is done all the time with communicable diseases like tuberculosis or sexually transmitted infections and it effectively stops transmission to protect the health of the public.” Nurses in particular possess unique skills that allow them to serve as especially effective case investigators, contact tracers, and general liaisons between the health department and the community. “Nurses are particularly good at case investigation and contact tracing by virtue of their education in therapeutic communication, ethical principles regarding social justice… and other invaluable interpersonal communication skills,” deValpine said. Building a rapport with

patients, lending an empathetic ear and being sensitive to different sociocultural circumstances are just a few of these important skills JMU nursing faculty pass on to their students and which have proven invaluable during this pandemic. No matter what their individual role at JMU, each faculty member shared the same sentiment regarding their involvement in the contact tracing effort—a passion for caring for the community. “I, unlike Maria and Linda, have never been a community/public health nurse,” Zook shared. “I am enjoying a new facet of nursing, especially talking with and educating those with COVID-19. I am happy to be helping instead of sitting on the sidelines.” deValpine concluded, “I’m really enjoying being a public health nurse again, even if part-time. This work was my passion for much of my career in practice, and I relish the chance to put my skills to a good purpose again.”

“This is good ole fashioned ‘shoe leather epidemiology’ where you look for contacts of people who test positive...”

– Sharon Zook JMU Nursing professor emerita

– Linda Hulton

JMU Nursing professor



A YEAR TO REMEMBER: NYC JMU ALUMNAE WORK TOGETHER AND LEND SUPPORT DURING PANDEMIC By Christina Lam As the effects of COVID-19 rippled across the nation, nurses on the front lines worked diligently and quickly to adapt and meet the needs of their patients and communities. Along with their professional colleagues, JMU School of Nursing alumni in cities affected early—like New York—continued to work in uncertain and changing environments.

“My entire mindset changed as I took on each shift — I had to be prepared for whatever new obstacle was thrown my way...” – Stephanie Olsen (‘18)

JMU Nursing alumna



Classmates Alison “Ali” LaMaina (’18), Caroline Nolan (’18), and Stephanie Olson (‘18) were excited at the opportunity to start their careers in New York City. Intrigued with endless opportunities for personal and professional growth, they moved and started new nurse residency programs at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center (Nolan and Olson) and New York University Langone Medical Center (LaMaina) early in the spring of 2019. Little did they realize their first years of nursing would be completely changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LaMaina, Nolan and Olson all agreed that they never imagined they would be working at the epicenter of an outbreak within the first year of their practice. They also agreed they had learned more about nursing and their own resiliency in the face of challenging circumstances as a result. Nolan described her first year as her unit completely changed in March from a pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) to an adult ICU treating COVID-19 positive patients. “I have learned more in one year then I ever thought possible,” she said. Olson also described having to take additional courses to be prepared, as her orthopedic and vascular surgery unit was transitioned to an intermediate care unit for COVID-19 patients. As the work environment became less predictable, PPE protocols changed and Below: LaMaina, Nolan and Olson enjoy some down time in their shared NYC apartment.

Above: LaMaina (right) with co-workers showing thanks for thoughtful donations patients became sicker, providers on the front lines worked through difficult decisions balancing the safety of family and friends while remaining in quarantine at all times. The stress of work, coupled with a loss of traditional support systems, led to difficult emotions. “My entire mindset changed as I took on each shift — I had to be prepared for whatever new obstacle was thrown my way during such an emotional time,” Olson shared. LaMaina also acknowledged that while support for her personally has been unbelievably positive, her emotions remain “raw, highly labile, but overall… optimistic.” Teamwork was recognized as critical to surviving each shift. “My unit has come together now more than ever, I am so proud of everyone I work with,” Nolan said. “We have seen so many patients get extubated and discharged. Those successes have carried us through.” The presence of JMU SON classmates remained a source of levity and support as well. “The JMU nursing community holds a special place in my heart,” LaMaina shared. “The amount of support, love and relationships that have come out of this community are remarkable and unique.”

The spirit of giving to others was evident not only in their work on the front lines, but in service to seniors of the graduating class of May 2020. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olson joined capstone seminar courses as a guest speaker to reflect on the transition to practice during the pandemic for graduating seniors. She shared her insight on the first year as a nurse in the face of a pandemic, as well as gave interview advice and offered her personal contact to those interested in networking in the New York area after graduation. Favorite memories of JMU were shared, and Olson attributed experiences in the nursing program, such as the Tanzania study abroad program, to furthering their own personal and professional self-growth in a resource-scarce area.

“The JMU nursing community holds a special place in my heart. The amount of support, love and relationships that have come out of this community are remarkable and unique.” – Alison LaMaina (‘18)

JMU Nursing alumna

While the challenges facing nursing and health care are great, these outstanding alumni reflected that the opportunities to learn, lead and advocate for individuals and communities are immense, and their experiences in the JMU nursing program prepared them to succeed.




Nursing students across Virginia are normally required to get 500 hours of practical experience in clinical settings, but a lot of those students had to finish up those hours virtually in spring 2020. Fortunately for students and nursing schools, the Virginia Board of Nursing waived some of the requirements for in-person training this past spring and allowed students to have more training via simulation. The JMU School of Nursing was ready for the challenge. Melody Eaton, head of the School of Nursing, said, “We were very proactive in developing this plan. We were ready to hit the ground running.” On March 9, the Monday of spring break week, “We decided this [meeting clinical requirements] was going to be an issue so we spent the entire spring break making plans so the students had a seamless transition into virtual simulation and that included an extensive plan to prepare the 19


faculty,” said Jamie Robinson, associate director for undergraduate programs in the School of Nursing.

Nursing instructor Jayme Haynes engages with students through virtual simulations.

The shift to virtual simulation impacts seniors the most because they get the bulk of their clinical experience, 200 hours, in their final year. Robinson said half of the 90-member senior class was able to complete their hours in the first half of the semester, but the rest are completing the time via simulation. Due to the pandemic, the program’s clinical partners were unable to accommodate students during spring semester.

and they are really still getting a pretty full experience when it comes to using virtual simulation.”

“What’s unique about the way we are doing it, we’re having the instructor be with the students during the simulation as if they were still in clinical and discussing decision making on an ongoing basis,” Robinson said. “Every time a student encounters a decision-making process in their virtual simulation, they pause the video, discuss it among the group and with the instructor and come up with the best recommendation. They’re still getting a lot of collaboration

This fall 2020, the School of Nursing has 406 undergraduate traditional BSN students, 171 RN to BSN students and 118 graduate students. For traditional BSN students a combination of instructional strategies include virtual and hybrid classes, virtual simulation and face to face laboratory experiences, and in person clinical experiences. The School of Nursing is prepared to move forward with exceptional education regardless of the pandemic timeline.

“Several of our graduate programs are completely online and the undergraduate programs, a lot of the courses have a hybrid component prior to COVID-19,” Eaton said. “We were well prepared for transitioning all course and clinical components to an on-line format.”

JMU FACULTY AND STUDENTS “I became involved CARE FOR OUR MOST VULNERABLE with Open Doors By Michele Dombrowski because I believe in the missionthis is a vulnerable population often overlooked by many people.” – Meghan Schultz (’20), JMU Nursing alumna

Meghan Schultz (’20) works with professor Tammy Kiser recording patient information. For as long as she can remember, Meghan Schultz (’20) wanted to be a nurse. During her third semester community clinicals she was placed in the Suitcase Clinic, a homeless healthcare initiative that is part of JMU’s IIHHS (Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services), dedicated to improving the health of the local homeless population. Rather than functioning in a fixed clinical setting, the mobile services provided by the Suitcase Clinic allow clients to be seen by healthcare providers in private settings within various homeless shelters. The clinic is run by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nursing students, PA students, faculty supervisors and local volunteers. After meeting and working with many of the clients at the Suitcase Clinic, Schultz soon began volunteering with Open Doors, another local organization that provides shelter, compassionate support and access to services for people who are homeless. The two organizations partner to provide quality care for this at-risk population.

“I became involved with Open Doors because I believe in the mission- this is a vulnerable population often overlooked by many people,” Schultz said. Schultz was serving as an Open Doors shelter manager when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and overwhelmed the organization with new challenges. “During this COVID-19 crisis our homeless population need us the most,” Schultz said. “[T] hey normally can shelter during the day in malls or libraries and eat at fast food restaurants, however, during this crisis these places are closed.” With the university’s plan to shut down in early fall because of the virus, leadership agreed to allow space in JMU’s Godwin Hall to provide some relief for the situation. The hall provided ample room to house all individuals and the ability to keep beds six feet apart. Clients were also fed dinner each evening, made possible with donations from local churches, the community and help from JMU’s dining halls. Volunteers from the Suitcase Clinic provided daily screenings for the clients. Nursing professor and Clinical Coordinator of the Suitcase Clinic, Tammy Kiser, shared, “We start at 6:15 each evening, and take temperatures and

ask screening questions before anyone is allowed to enter. There are around 50 people sheltering at Godwin each evening.” With support from local governments, individuals who show symptoms, test positive or are at high risk due to chronic illness are isolated in motel rooms. “Suitcase Clinic volunteers check with each individual once or twice a day to monitor their progress, take care of med refills, etc.,” Kiser said. When people asked Schultz if she was scared to work with possibly infected COVID-19 patients, she replied, “I was not nervous to work with possibly infected patients due to the fact COVID-19 can be spread anywhere. I am just as likely to pick it up at the grocery store or while pumping gas. Just because these people are homeless does not mean they are infected, which is a common misconception that the public has. JMU has prepared me to care for many patients no matter what their background or situation is.” Schultz graduated with her BSN in May 2020 and is currently working at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, VA on the telemetry unit.



AGENTS OF CHANGE: DOCTOR OF NURSING PRACTICE By Linda Hulton The year 2020 marks the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, a British social reformer, a statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Florence was an original agent of change in the world of healthcare reform. By displaying extraordinary talents in administration and leadership in reforming healthcare practices in the British military, Florence’s acuity in mobilizing forces to reform healthcare lead to her most famous achievement of creating a nursing training program. Her original practice principles thrive to this day as the nursing profession. Today, graduate education in nursing occurs within a similar context of societal demands as well as a complex interprofessional work environment, not unlike the historical challenges facing Florence Nightingale’s work. Early in this century, the Institute of Medicine (IOM, 2003) and the National Research Council of National Academies (2005) 21


called for a new era of nursing education that prepared individuals for practice with interdisciplinary, information systems, quality improvement, and patient safety expertise. These hallmark reports called for a dramatic restructuring of all health professionals’ education leading to the endorsement of the doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP) by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) as the entry level for advanced nursing. This new degree in nursing would be a means to augment advanced practice roles, improve health care outcomes, facilitate excellence in population-based practice, and impact leadership and policy. The development of the DNP program at James Madison University first began in 2006 after the study of national trends for nursing doctoral education. A nursing faculty DNP taskforce was appointed to develop a feasibility study and a needs assessment. After

Inaugural DNP class of 2016 initial approval for the program at the college level, a downturn in the general economy in 2008 delayed the start of the program as the growth of the undergraduate nursing program demanded the talents and expertise of the nursing faculty. Finally, in July 2010, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approved a proposal to start the DNP at JMU. The inaugural cohort of ten post-MSN DNP students enrolled in 2013 with the first graduates of the program completing in December 2016. Each DNP graduate has completed a DNP clinical project through defined academic-clinical partnerships and has developed strong skills sets that are critical for the nursing profession to navigate a new era in healthcare reform. Namely, the DNP projects of JMU School of Nursing students have reported accomplishments and scholarship that deliver quality care, improve outcomes, and reduce cost. In December 2020, the fifth cohort of DNP students will graduate from the program and continue to lead healthcare reform with many of the same tenets and tenacity of Florence Nightingale.


Professor Weeks works with 3rd semester student Mackenzie Ratliff in the skills lab. In the spring of 2020, Professor Karen Weeks (‘19DNP) was awarded the JMU Graduate School Outstanding Dissertation Award for Social Sciences, Business, Health, and Behavioral Studies. This award recognizes exemplary contributions of a graduate student and celebrates the diversity of their work across the university. “Weeks’ doctoral project exemplifies the type of scholarship that creates an impact and is sustainable over time,” Jeannie Garber, JMU’s coordinator of the DNP program, said. “Karen Weeks represents the drive, initiative, and engagement of every faculty member in the School of Nursing.” Weeks joined the JMU School of Nursing as a clinical instructor in 2015. With her vast experience in critical care nursing, she quickly became a valued educator within the school. Setting the bar high in the classroom, her teaching style incorporates both a high level of positive energy and wit that makes her incredibly engaging and likeable to students. According to nursing alumna Tiffany Boyd (’19), “Weeks has a passion for sepsis, which is a life-threatening

condition. Due to her thorough teaching, I was able to catch a patient going into early septic shock and get him the interventions he needed.“ In fact, Weeks’ passion for interventions to improve patient outcomes related to sepsis and heart failure led her to the focus of her DNP project. “One of the needs identified at the hospital where I chose to do my project was improving their readmission rates. I worked closely with my DNP committee to create a system for ‘navigating’ the discharge process and assessing the needs of the patients being sent home after being hospitalized with sepsis or heart failure,” Weeks said. “This project added to the body of knowledge for comprehensive discharge planning, coordination and education that is needed for populations that have a great deal of medical complexity with a potential for a staggering cost avoidance. Targeting the high-risk populations like heart failure and sepsis can not only assist the patients and families in day to day management and reduce admissions to the hospital, but empower the patient and family leading to an increased quality of life and patient satisfaction.”

at JMU with her project entitled Implementing a Discharge Navigator Reducing 30-day Readmissions for Heart Failure and Sepsis Populations. While developing this project, she spent countless hours at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital (SRMH) reviewing patient data to identify those at highest risk of returning to the hospital post discharge. Once identified, Weeks then spent time planning, coordinating and educating patients on methods for managing day to day care of their chronic illness, minimizing exacerbations and when to call their primary care provider. Debbie Kile (‘17DNP), Weeks’ doctoral mentor said, “Karen did an amazing job connecting with families, bedside nurses and patients. As a result of her work, Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital hired a full-time heart failure navigator.” SRMH continues to employ a full-time discharge heart failure navigator with great improvement in patient outcomes, a credit to Weeks’ tremendous dedication to improving patient care. Weeks’ manuscript has been accepted for publication by Professional Case Management Journal.

In December 2019, Weeks completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree




“Even more than ever, I see nurses as resilient and eager to take on the next change in practice we implement. Nurses ‘show up’ in a crisis – are flexible and able to adjust to changes...” – Patra Reed (’93, ‘16DNP)

JMU Nursing alumna



DN P graduates Patra Reed (’93, ‘16DNP) and Jill Delawder (‘18DNP) both work for Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in positions that have been instrumental in developing and executing strategies in the workplace to deal with the onset and progression of the pandemic. Reed is the hospital’s Director of Community Health Services and serves as the Blue Ridge Regional Director of Integrated Care Management. Delawder is the Nurse Manager of Patient Care Services; Nursing Professional Development, Diabetes, Enterostomal Therapy & Life Support. We asked them to share their recent experiences and how their DNP training helps them to manage the ever-changing conditions in health care today.

How has the COVID-19 situation affected you at work, your facility and personally? Reed: Our day-to-day operations in nursing leadership has become “a work in progress” during this time with all focus on COVID-19. We are unable to meet face-to-face in groups so our work all happens by conference call, computer meetings and through direct rounding with our staff and patients. Days are spent planning for multiple scenarios and how each one can be handled in the most effective and efficient manner. Our work is focused around allocating resources and supporting our staff. I work closely with both our local and system teams to assure process standardization as well as addressing specific local needs. As leaders, we are regularly looking at projections and how our system is prepared to assist our community. Regular communication with staff is essential and key to keeping members of the team informed and updated. I do constantly worry about staff—how are they doing, are they “okay,” what can I do to make them feel more secure? I

worry about our patients and about our community. We want to shield them from this, keep them all safe. I worry about my family, am I taking anything home to them? I worry about my extended family that I am not able to see during this time. There are just so many emotions during this time. Time at home is spent with my husband who is still working full-time, also at a healthcare organization and with my teenage son who is navigating a rigorous online school schedule. The emotions are intense and raw at times. It is a heavy feeling-unlike anything I have felt in 27 years. Delawder: I think that many healthcare providers did not realize that COVID19 would have as much of an impact as it has. For me and my professional development team, we were tasked with “training up” staff from procedural areas to help care for patients in medsurg, intermediate care, and critical care areas. A system taskforce was developed to create a modified “rapid” new hire orientation, as well as competency checklists for staff who were being trained-up for reallocation. Various other teams were created to work on urgent processes such as code blue, critical care standards of care, visitation, personal protective equipment, etc. As a leader, it was overwhelming but important to keep up with communicating the frequent changes that occurred. Staff, although they have been inundated with information, have remained positive and continue to focus on ensuring patients are safe and do not feel alone. Personally, having recovered from COVID-19, along with my husband who fought multi-focal pneumonia, I have a much different perspective of the pandemic. I understand the feeling of helplessness when your loved one is taken to the hospital and you can’t be with them. I also understand the “need” to be with family, but now having been a positive COVID19 patient myself, I am even more hesitant about any contact with my family.

I would encourage everyone to take a deep breath and remember the “why” behind social distancing and quarantine and to think about what is important to them (hair, family, children, concerts?) and can it wait if that would prevent causing harm to someone they love. Has the situation changed your outlook on nursing? Reed: Even more than ever, I see nurses as resilient and eager to take on the next change in practice we implement. Nurses “show up” in a crisis – are flexible and able to adjust to changes to best meet the needs of their patients. Even when situations may not be optimal, nurses put their patients first and work to meet their individual needs. Nurses in every role have been impacted by COVID-19. I have watched nurses who have not worked clinically for many years go through refresher courses to both restore past skills and learn new tasks. No complaints are heard, just offers to help in any capacity needed. Many nurses are currently working in areas that are not their normal workplace and assisting in roles that several months ago would have not been a familiar arena. Nurses are caring for the critically ill, making operational plans, triaging patients, connecting patients to families by iPad, and providing a compassionate conversation for patients without visitors. The enormity of the situation has weighed heavily on my shoulders at times but I have also kept the patient at the center and I know that I have an army of other nurses standing right behind me for support. I believe this has truly elevated the role of nursing as a central core in today’s health care environment. Nurses have shown their ability to adapt and take the lead in many different ways as we acclimate to the new normal. I have never been more proud to be a nurse. Delawder: I believe the COVID-19 pandemic has opened my eyes to all of the things that we take for granted

as a community and as a healthcare worker. For example, vaccinations and the importance of herd immunity. As a healthcare worker, it has brought forward that maybe we have not been as diligent about isolation precautions as we should have been historically. It has also made me wonder if we should have always been wearing a mask and goggles for all patient encounters? Should we always mask at work? Do you think your DNP education helped you to be better prepared to handle the situation? Reed: Absolutely! My DNP education gave me a more solid foundation in critical thinking while collaborating with the larger healthcare team. I was able to take rapidly changing information and formulate sustainable plans that could be adapted in a moment’s notice. I have been able to use my educational preparation to lead my teams through unchartered times, using the available evidenced based science and data. DNP preparation offered me the ability to think and lead in innovative and creative ways which has been essential in this time. I have also incorporated my education in public health frameworks. This is a very different way of thinking for those of us in the acute care setting. We continue to develop strong collaborative relationships with our community partners and work together in building appropriate strategies. Interdisciplinary partnerships have been a key to successful approaches and interventions for patients and team members. Delawder: I believe my DNP education enabled me to use systems thinking in the evaluation of population-based healthcare needs, organizational structure and function with staff reallocation, as well as interprofessional collaboration in the delivery of evidence-based practice for altered standard of care. DNP education made it easier for me to multi-task, prioritize and to find available resources to guide decision-making.

“I believe the COVID-19 pandemic has opened my eyes to all of the things that we take for granted as a community and as a healthcare worker.” – Jill Delawder (‘18DNP)

JMU Nursing alumna



ADVANCED PRACTICE LEADING THE WAY: THE MSN PROGRAM By Andrea Knopp Advanced Nursing Practice at JMU was envisioned by Merle Mast in 2004. The first adult Nurse Practitioner (NP) program launched as a result of the healthcare provider shortage. As the program grew, new concentrations were added to include family nurse practitioner, adult gerontology nurse practitioner and, in collaboration with Shenandoah University, nurse midwifery and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs. The nurse practitioner tracks continue to multiply with applicants. The MSN programs expanded in 2013 to include two leadership-focused tracks: the 25


Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) and the Nurse Administrator. The leadership tracks are online programs. Enrollment in the leadership program continues to thrive along with a growing national presence. All programs have excellent certification pass rates and propel nursing as a profession to practice at the highest level of licensure. JMU MSN alumni are members of local, state and national communities. They are committed to the improvement of health outcomes across a diverse spectrum of care. Today, JMU MSN alumni are serving as leaders in hospital systems, providing healthcare to individuals living in rural communities,

FNP students practice skills during a suturing seminar. o p e n i n g t h ei r ow n i n d e p e n d e nt nurse-managed clinics and advocating for policy changes to improve outcomes for patients nationally. All of the MSN program concentrations share a commitment to provide high quality healthcare to populations locally, nationally and internationally. Students have the opportunity to have study abroad experiences in the Caribbean, Europe and East Africa. These experiences build on James Madison University’s mission to promote engaged learning, civic engagement and community engagement, as well as highlight CHBS’ mission of “learning, scholarship and service in health and behavioral studies to inspire responsible contributions to our world.”

Tina Switzer (‘18M) graduated from the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) concentration in the MSN program. Upon graduation she became the Partnership Liaison for a JMU School of Nursing HRSA grant which offers BSN nursing students rural primary care clinical immersions and learning opportunities while helping to expand these themes for all JMU nursing students. “My transition from student to faculty has been a privilege. I enjoy using my CNL skillset to create evidence-based student learning opportunities, including a new primary care nursing elective, which address access, value and quality in rural healthcare.” COVID-19 has been particularly hard for Switzer. She lost her mother and professionally it has been a very challenging time, but she found comfort in the resiliency and creativity of the JMU Nursing faculty who found innovative ways to meet student needs. “My favorite experience in school was simply the excitement of becoming an adult learner.”

Maria McDonald (’14, ‘19M) became a proud double duke of James Madison University after graduating from the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration in the MSN program. She is currently enrolled in the PhD in Nursing Program at the University of Virginia with a focus in maternal mental health research. Additionally, McDonald began work as a Nurse Practitioner in outpatient behavioral health. “A few of my favorite JMU memories include my first undergraduate clinical rotation with Professor Argenbright and the many ways that Professor Strunk made our undergraduate pediatrics course fun and engaging. During the MSN program, I also found each of my professors to be important mentors that truly shaped my career in both advanced nursing practice and in research. I am profoundly grateful for the friendships that were built among my colleagues as well as the mentorship that was provided by the nursing faculty.”

MSN ALUMNI HIGHLIGHTS “My favorite experience in school was simply the excitement of becoming an adult learner.”

– Tina Switzer (’18M)

JMU Nursing alumna

– Maria McDonald (’14, ‘19M)

“During the MSN program, I also found each of my professors to be important mentors that truly shaped my career in both advanced nursing practice and in research.”

JMU Nursing alumna 2020



RN-BSN graduates prepare for the December 2019 Pinning Ceremony.

The RN-BSN program at James Madison University truly reflects “Being the Change.” With three key factors at the heart of the university’s vision— engaged learning, civic engagement and community engagement—the RN-BSN program not only embodies all three of these elements, but has become a model for online learning within the university, offering access to communities across Virginia and beyond. Initiated during the 2004-2005 academic year as a part of the School of Nursing’s carefully phased strategic plan for growth, the RN-BSN program launched in 2006 with a total of eight students. The program developed as a partnership between the then Department of Nursing and the Office of Outreach & Engagement (now the Office of Professional & Continuing Education), which offers access to higher education and support to the community. This partnership provides the RN-BSN program with the unique ability to offer a second bachelor’s degree to graduates of other disciplines looking to enter the 27


nursing profession, and is the only academic program at JMU to do so. It was also one of the first programs to utilize the online education format, giving non-traditional students the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree. The RN-BSN program maintained slow but steady growth over the next few years, but experienced a significant rise in enrollment in 2010, when local hospitals Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital and Augusta Health announced they would seek voluntary “Magnet” hospital accreditation. To gain this accreditation, hospitals encouraged RN’s with associate degrees to complete their BSN degrees and nurse managers to complete MSN degrees. Combined with the AACN’s national initiative to increase the BSN workforce to 80% by the year 2020, the RN-BSN program’s growth continued through the last decade. In 2013, student numbers rose when the program moved to an online format, providing nurses from across the state with the opportunity to meet Magnet

requirements of completing their BSN. In the last two years, the expansion has increased with a growing number of out-of-state students choosing the JMU RN-BSN program to complete their degree, as well as the inclusion of associate degree students in the recently developed co-enrollment program. Additionally, faculty and staff continue to evolve the students’ experience within the program to meet the needs of a new, more diverse nursing population. Since August 2006, 413 nurses have earned their bachelor’s degree through the RN-BSN program. “We strive to meet the needs of our students, as we appreciate they come from many different backgrounds and are usually employed full-time,” current program coordinator Karen Jagiello (‘06MSN) shared. “We hope that they will grow their professional practice through the learning they receive in this program. Our goal is to provide another layer of learning that will support them throughout their careers as they seek growth opportunities and remain life-long learners.”

Erin Neff (’17) works at Rockingham Memorial Hospital and is currently a Certified PCCN speciality float pool nurse working between the Critical Care and Progressive Care Units. She shares, “We have set up three separate respiratory units to handle the COVID-19 patients. A Med/Surge unit for those not requiring special drips or high levels of oxygen, another unit in our Progressive Care unit for the patients requiring Levophed and other drips as well as HFNC or BiPAP, and a special Critical Care area for those that are intubated and critically ill. In PCU and CCU we were fitted to wear PAPR’s for rapid intubations and other aerosolizing procedures. Throughout this pandemic policies and procedures were changing frequently, sometimes daily. Keeping up with the most recent PPE guidelines was difficult. Thankfully we have PPE ‘wingmen’ that help us gown up before entering the patients room and ensure that we haven’t missed a step in the process. The speed at which these patients can deteriorate is unnerving so keeping a closer eye on them is crucial.”

Alexandra McAuliffe (’14, ’18) works at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, NYC initially the hardest hit area in the US. “Our emergency department was flooded with COVID-19 patients, many of them critically ill. We’ve been functioning past capacity for weeks and had to expand the hospital space into Central Park, putting patients in tents. They also built the atrium of the hospital into temporary hospital rooms. Nurses were deployed to the ED from other departments in order to help us with the volume of patients we were seeing,” said McAuliffe. Originally graduating with a health sciences and anthropology degree she decided to go back a few years later and get her BSN in nursing attending JMU’s fully online program. McAuliffe feels that being a second career nurse made her better prepared for her job, especially since she was able to work while finishing the program. One of her favorite memories of being on campus was becoming a FROG (First Year Orientation Guides) and helping new students make the transition to college life.

RN-BSN ALUMNI HIGHLIGHTS “Keeping up with the most recent PPE guidelines was difficult. Thankfully we have PPE ‘wingmen’ that help us...” – Erin Neff (’17) JMU Nursing alumna

“We’ve been functioning past capacity for weeks and had to expand the hospital space into Central Park, putting patients in tents.” – Alexandra McAuliffe (’14, ’18)

JMU Nursing alumna 2020


THE IMPACT OF GIVING: A DONOR’S STORY The JMU School of Nursing is thankful for donors like Lou Newman, who shares his story to inspire others to give back and create their own tradition within JMU Nursing.

Mary Rose Newman

Every time I provide a donation in the name of Mary Rose Newman to the JMU School of Nursing, I know that I am making an impact in nursing education. My wife was a nurse at Rockingham Memorial Hospital for over 30 years. She dedicated her life to helping others through her profession. By providing quality and compassionate care I know she made a difference in patients’ lives. Mary Rose was tireless in her pursuit of knowledge and continually worked towards improving healthcare in her community. As a result,

she influenced our daughter, Julie, to follow in her footsteps. Our daughter is a triple Duke and we are very proud of her accomplishments. Although JMU did not have a nursing program during her first degree opportunity, she was able to procure her nursing license and then return to JMU to receive her RN to BSN (she was in their first class), and then receive her MSN as a nurse educator. Through JMU’s strong nursing program and dedicated faculty, she was then influenced to obtain her PhD. Little did we know that our daughter would become an Associate Professor in the nursing program at JMU. It is my hope that through the memory of my wife, other nursing students will strive to continue in their nursing education and to give back to the wonderful program at James Madison University.

HELP US CELEBRATE 40 YEARS OF NURSING: GIVE 40 FOR 40! Every day, nurses give their time, knowledge, and care to patients and communities across the nation and the globe. The current public health crisis is a reminder of how crucial the education and preparation of nurses and health care providers is to the well-being of our world. Now more than ever, funding for nursing education is paramount to strengthening our health care system with nurses dedicated to “Being The Change.” When you give back to the JMU School of Nursing, your gift provides vital support to JMU Nursing students, through promotion of student and faculty innovation, scholarship, and professional development, funding for lab technology, and scholarships for well-deserving students. You can give to our 40 FOR 40 campaign by visiting or contact: 29


– Mary Kaye Slonaker

Office of Strategic Gifts, development officer (540) 568-8840

“When you give back to the JMU School of Nursing, your gift provides vital support to JMU Nursing students...”

Scan QR code to give 40 FOR 40


Director Melody Eaton joins professor Julie Strunk at the 2019 AAN ceremony for inductees in Washington, DC.

By Sara Banton Fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) is one of the highest honors a nurse can achieve in their career. Fellows are recognized nursing leaders who, through the Academy, aim to transform America’s health system. Julie Strunk, a professor in the School of Nursing, recently received the designation of a Fellow in the AAN. “I really wanted this to be the pinnacle of my career,” Strunk said. “It’s a goal I had set for myself.” Strunk earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from JMU before earning a PhD in nursing from VCU. “My time at JMU prepared me quite well,” she said. After working in a hospital setting for a few years, Strunk decided to take a position, as a teaching assistant for a special needs class, working with students who needed regular healthcare attention. She then became a school nurse at a high school and middle school in Harrisonburg for six years. “I chose to step out of the hospital and into the education system, which was really

good because it helped me to ‘speak education’,” she said. “I understood the education field a lot more and it helped me to become a school nurse.” Strunk is currently a member of the School Nurse Institute Partnership (SNIP), a state-run program that represents all school nurses in Virginia. Through this program, she helped pilot a program in Richmond for school nurses to learn bleeding control techniques to treat a massive bleeding injury. She also helped develop health policies for schools. “A lot of school nurses don’t have nurses supervising them, they have educators who are unfamiliar with the role of nursing,” she said. “I helped develop an evaluative tool for clarity for these individuals who might not understand the role of a nurse in the school system.” She returned to the JMU campus as a full-time faculty member in the fall of 2012. She was chosen as the 2013 Virginia March of Dimes pediatric nurse of the year. While on a study abroad in Malta, she completed research that helped lead to the establishment of family support

groups there for parents of children with autism. She developed a webinar for school nurses to learn not only how to identify a child with autism, but also how to work with that child. She helped start a nursery at Harrisonburg High School, called Project 4T, for students who needed childcare in order to finish their education. She, along with Cathy Webb, developed the Precious Time program, which provides respite for caregivers of special needs children, utilizing JMU students to care for the children. Through her fellowship in the AAN, Strunk is optimistic about her opportunities to continue serving others. “I look forward to doing some policy work,” she said. “I want to take my influence from this group and be able to speak out publicly at the state or national level.” Melody Eaton, Director of the School of Nursing, also a Fellow to the AAN, supported Strunk’s application. “Strunk’s work as an educator and with state associations has been a catalyst for change,” Eaton said. “Becoming an AAN Fellow is truly an honor that is well-deserved for her.”



JMU HONORS COLLEGE AND NURSING COLLABORATE TO GROW JMU NURSING HONORS SCHOLARS “One of our goals in the School of Nursing is to encourage faculty and student collaboration in research and scholarship.” – Betsy Herron,

JMU Nursing professor

Since 1990, the School of Nursing has collaborated with honors students in the completion of their honors projects, with 36 nursing students having completed capstone projects and graduated with honors. Students enter the nursing program in their junior year when the capstone process begins. Nursing faculty have volunteered their time to work with students in developing, implementing and presenting various projects related to healthcare and the nursing profession. Historically, many pre-nursing students have opted not to continue with honors once they have been accepted into the nursing major. Professor Erika Sawin, nursing honors liaison from 2011 to 2017, began collaborating with the Honors College 31


to streamline the process for nursing majors to ease their transition into the program and support their continuation with honors to graduation. In 2018, the Honors Program became a multidisciplinary minor for JMU students. Professor Betsy Herron assumed the role of nursing honors liaison that year. She continues to collaborate with the Honors College to provide guidance for nursing students in the program. Additionally, she has worked to grow the numbers of honors students completing the minor. In the fall of 2020, there will be 17 active honors students in the School of Nursing. Several nursing honors students have published their capstone projects in the JMU undergraduate research

Professor Herron oversees the honors project of Elle del Gallo (’19). journal. One recent honors graduate, Elle del Gallo (‘19 ), in collaboration with her capstone advisor Dr. Christina Lam, has submitted her final project for publication in a peer-reviewed national nursing journal. “One of our goals in the School of Nursing is to encourage faculty and student collaboration in research and scholarship. Working with honors students is a commitment our faculty take on voluntarily, so growing the program requires participation from the entire school,” Herron said. “Each new nursing honors student brings a new opportunity for the advancement of nursing science.”


Photo from the December 2019 Nursing Convocation Ceremony

This past year JMU graduated: 180 BSN, 82 RN-BSN, 24 MSN, 15 DNP Students BSN: Honors Program Graduates The honors program at JMU is an academic community that engages highly motivated and intellectually gifted students in exceptional experiences that develop excellence in leadership, scholarship and service. Elle Del Gallo (’19), Jillian Smith (’20), and Bridget Reily (’20) BSN ROTC graduates These graduates have made a commitment to the armed forces and to serve our country. The additional rigors of the ROTC experience promote excellence in leadership for these graduates. Army ROTC: Evan Greenshaw (’19), Emma Altonji (’20), Catherine Camden (’20), Emma Lloyd (’20) and Helena Mulder (’20)

Air Force: Patricia Bryant (’20) The Merck Scholar Award This award is given to the undergraduate nursing student who has achieved the highest cumulative GPA. Marissa Collier (’19), Shelby Liske (’20) The Outstanding Undergraduate Senior Peer Award This award is given to a student who is nominated by the senior class and then chosen by a vote of the class. Marissa Collier (’19), Ryan Myers (’20) The Marcia Dake Rockingham Memorial Hospital Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice This award is determined by faculty in recognition of the graduate who is the most outstanding in clinical practice. Marissa Collier (’19), Nathalie Chao (’20) The Victoria Alcantara Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award This is the highest undergraduate

student honor. Faculty members select a student who demonstrates excellence in promoting the profession of nursing, actively pursues knowledge, is involved in the university and the community, and exemplifies caring in their nursing practice. Elle Del Gallo (’19), Nathalie Chao (’20) RN to BSN: The RN to BSN Scholar Award This award is determined by highest GPA and outstanding academic performance. Jennifer Brinegar (’19), Mindy Bryan (‘19) and Christi Kilgore (’19), Emily Bell (’20), Christina Eppard (’20), Makenna Eppard (’20), Kelly O’Neill (’20) and Nathalie Straker (’20) The Outstanding RN - BSN Peer Award: Students are nominated for this award by the class and the winner chosen by a vote. Timothy Shulgan (’19), Jennifer Donovan (’20)



has a project that showed a measurable improvement in quality or impact on care delivery or outcomes. The project has the potential to directly or indirectly influence outcomes related to healthcare, practice or policy while building positive relationships with peers, clients, and healthcare professions. Tausha Grim (‘20M) Above: With 2020 Convocation being virtual Emma Lang celebrates at home with her family. MSN and DNP Awards: The Outstanding Graduate Student Leadership Award This is presented to a student who excels in academic and clinical performance, service and leadership, and innovation and is voted on by the faculty. Deidra Rae (’19DNP), Sarah Akers (’20M) School of Nursing Award for Excellence in Advances Nursing Practice This award, voted on by nursing faculty, is presented to a graduate who demonstrates clinical excellence and is compassionate, caring and respects human dignity. Dee Pennington (‘19DNP), Kymber Beers (‘20M) Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Professional Engagement Award This award takes nominations from faculty, peers, and preceptors and the recipient is voted on by faculty. This award is given to the graduate who excels in academic and clinical performance; actively participates in university, professional and/or community service; demonstrates innovation in nursing; exhibits characteristics of a nurse leader; and builds relationships while advocating for the advancement of the nurse practitioner profession. Erika Metzler Sawin (’20M) Outstanding Leadership MSN Project of Interest Award This is presented to the student who 33 SCHOOL OF NURSING MAGAZINE

on care delivery and/or outcomes; may be implemented in other settings or with other populations, and exemplifies innovation and leadership in nursing practice. Karen Weeks (‘19DNP) received the award for her project titled: Implementing a discharge navigator reducing 30-day readmissions for heart failure and sepsis populations

The Doctoral Award for Outstanding DNP Project This award is voted on by faculty and it honors the DNP student whose project has the potential to directly or indirectly influence outcomes related to healthcare, practice, or policy; demonstrates scholarly rigor and innovation and contributes to the profession; demonstrates a measurable improvement in quality or impact Below: Caroline Farquharson is all smiles celebrating virtual convocation 2020 from her hometown.

Above: Karen Weeks (‘19DNP) celebrates with mentor Debbie Kile (‘87, ‘15M, ‘17DNP) at Convocation December 2019.


Mar y Kathr yn (Coster) Baruffi (’84) started her career at University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in the Operating Room. Baruffi married, moved to NJ and continued on that same path. She is currently working at two surgery centers in South Jersey. “I remember my time there fondly. I loved the smaller class size and I recall we bonded well as a class.”

Pam (Schofield) Guillaume (’85) went on to get her MSN from Catholic University. She works for Kaplan teaching the RN Review course to prepare students for the NCLEX Exam. “So many favorite memories from nursing school. The professors were all excellent. Loved our little nursing building next to the hospital. All of our classes were in the same classroom. The nursing lab was in the basement. Such a great program!”

Nancy Sheppard Stone (’85) retired from Pitt County Public Health in Greenville, NC in 2006, UNC Chapel Hill. Currently she is part-time adjunct faculty at Wilson Community College in Wilson, NC. “Long hours studying, clinicals and class that paid off. Plus the last day of classes/final exams at the lake (near Eagles Hall). Dr. Dake was livid and gave admonishments.”

Kathryn (Unrah) Verber (’84) is currently taking a break and last worked as a Pediatric Nurse Case Manager. She remembers climbing the hill to WinePrice for classes and labs and jumping in Newman Lake to celebrate the end of classes. “I think that was a very shortlived tradition!”

Deborah Brown (’97) works for Augusta Health Hospice of the Shenandoah. Her favorite professors were Dr. Huber and Sandy Hopper. “It was funny that when you started in nursing classes we were scared of Dr. Huber but then during the last year you felt like they were your colleagues. Dr. Huber was a very special lady and when she passed away JMU lost a good soul, strong nurse, and great lady.”

Shelby Kirillin (‘98) has worked for 21 years as a neuro-trauma ICU nurse at Shock Trauma in Baltimore, INOVA Fairfax, but for most of her career at VCU in Richmond. She is now a certified End of life Doula and an instructor for the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA). “My favorite memories of nursing school are, by far, the camaraderie that we had as a class. I loved those women like sisters and wish I had done a better job at keeping in contact with them. My favorite professors were Judy Holt and Professor Hooper. They showed me what nurses are truly capable of and pushed me to be a better nurse.” Nikki Gage (’99) currently works at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital Kidney Transplant Center in Richmond, VA. “While it was challenging, I loved it all, but mostly our clinical experiences! I enjoyed the excitement/anxiety of entering the hospital units and patient rooms – having to be there so early, preparing the night before, and finally being able to care for a patient. I appreciated the diverse clinical settings given to me – not only acute care, but home health, rehab, case management – all at different facilities. I have had some wonderful career opportunities as a JMU grad and have always appreciated my nursing education and how it allowed me to do what I love.” Tabitha Garrison (’00, ‘06M) has been a nurse practitioner since 2006. She worked in long-term health care, hospitalist, emergency medicine, urgent care and pain management. In December 2019, Garrison became an autonomous licensed nurse practitioner and in February 2020, she opened her own practice in Broadway, VA—Shenandoah Pain and Palliative Care Clinic. “The toughest classes, but most enjoyable I had in the BSN program were the pharmacology-pathophysiology classes. Professor Judy Holt made me think and told the greatest stories. Professor Mary Koogler I met on Friday of the first week of classes, and she is the only reason I didn’t give up after the first week because I felt so overwhelmed. She inspired me to keep going.”



Mary Lay Jessen (’01) is not currently working as a nurse, but has fond memories of time spent together with friends and the long drives to Charlottesville and other places for clinicals. Sheila Heller (’03) went on to get her MSN and works for Anthem as a Care Coordinator. “My favorite memories are all the time I spent with my classmates and I am so appreciative of the lifelong friendships I made.”

Johnell Cantrell (’05) began her career working in NICU and then did home health, was an RN supervisor and school nurse. She is currently working as a nursing instructor at Jackson River Technical Center and loves passing on nursing knowledge to the next generation. “My favorite professor was Dr. Martin and clinicals were my favorite experience. JMU provided such a wonderful and enriching variety of experiences.” L. Aaron (Jackson) Chapman (’05) currently works as an ER Nurse Practitioner in Richmond, VA and as a Critical Care Nurse Practitioner in CTICU at UVA. “I loved Professor Linda Hulton and time spent with her in public health as well as our research advisor for our Senior Research project. Also, I had really meaningful clinicals working with young mothers and their new babies, a hospice rotation that forever shaped my career.”

Lauren (Haracznak) Simon (’03) moved to Nashville TN after graduation and worked in a neuroscience ICU and the Cardiothoractic ICU at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Simon has been practicing as a CRNA for 10 years now and enjoys caring for her patients and guiding them safely and effectively through the peri-op experience. “Meeting lifelong friends, and even though we spent long hours studying in those ISAT rooms, we always laughed and cheered each other on. I can remember so many funny songs and mnemonics we used to remember diseases and drug side effects! There is a group of five of us and we continue to get together each year. These women are absolutely my best friends and made my JMU experience complete. I love JMU and cannot imagine my life without going there! JMU nursing gave me the foundation for a rewarding career in nursing. Those five years were some of the best of my life. I may not wear purple scrubs anymore, but I’ll always have JMU nursing in my blood!”



Rachel L. Engler (‘05) joined the U.S. Navy after graduation and stayed active in the reserves for 11 total years, including a tour in Afghanistan. She attended graduate school at Northeastern University to become a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and currently practices at a large Level I Trauma Center in Northern Virginia. Enlger continues to teach and mentor nurses and physicians both in the U.S. and overseas. She loves to travel and continues to serve doing mission work and teaching in several countries including Cambodia, Nigeria, Morocco and Indonesia, as well as humanitarian work and advocacy within her community. “I couldn’t say greater things about my JMU Nursing experience. The professors, my fellow students...some of whom are now my colleagues at work, were the greatest part of that experience. It made me want to teach and mentor myself. I have stayed friends with Vicki Martin, one of my favorite professors, and I STILL remember how much she loved the LIVER!”

Kristina Kirby Flanagan (’08) continued her education to get an MSN and is a practicing Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at North Shore Health in Indiana. Her memories include being surrounded by and taught by amazing professors. “I thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the nursing society and all the events we planned for the local community. It is a time in my life I will never forget and am forever grateful for all JMU has given me to succeed in my career.”

Lauren (Burlew) Marinak (’08) went on to get an MSN from ODU as a FNP in 2015. She spent eight years as a NICU nurse and is currently working as an inpatient Nurse Practitioner at Inova Fairfax Hospital specializing in Advanced Lung Disease and Lung Transplant. Her favorite memories about JMU nursing are the Student Nursing Association, pediatric clinical offered as a distance learning experience at Carilion, capstone in the NICU and the JMU nursing pinning ceremony. “My favorite professors were Vicki Martin and Karen Jagiello”.

Erica Claire (Bennetch) Moore (’08) lives in Virginia Beach and works at Sentara Life Care as a Clinical Nursing Manager. She has three children: Hunter (three years), Magnolia (eight years) and Lillian (10 years). “Being engaged in the Arboretum, Dave’s Taverna, jumping off the rock at Blue Hole, working at UREC and grilled cheese nights at D-Hall.” Julie Pierantoni (’08M) is the Diabetes Quality Services Coordinator for Sentara RMH Medical Center in Harrisonburg, VA. She received certification in diabetes education in 2000 and BC-ADM in 2018 (Board Certified—Advanced Diabetes Management). Pierantoni teaches an online diabetes elective for JMU and volunteers for RAM (Remote Area Medical) clinics in Virginia and surrounding states. “I champion for improved diabetes care in the inpatient and outpatient worlds through evidence based practice and research.”

Brianna Darcey (’09) spent eight years working as a bedside nurse, spending most of her time in high risk OB, most recently at the University of San Francisco. Two years ago, Darcey left the hospital for a unique experience working on campus at Apple in

Silicon Valley in a primary care facility. On her 10-year anniversary in nursing, Darcey began school to get a doctorate in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley. “I’m so excited to be a primary care provider and feel fortunate to have a strong background in western medicine. One of my favorite memories was pediatric clinicals with Cynthia Rubenstein. I remember how warm and encouraging Professor Rubenstein was, as well as the nurses on the unit. I remember thinking to myself, when I’m a nurse, this is how I’m going to treat nursing students.”

(’09) From left to right: Kim (Naquin) Ohgren, Nicole O’Connor, Jenna (DiLucente) Smith, Stephanie (Miller) Searles, Melissa (Mitchell) Brannigan, and Beth (Roundy) O’Connor “Since graduating in 2009, we have made a pact to get together once a year, each time in a different state, so that hopefully we will visit all 50 states in 50 years, and our friendship will remain as strong! Since graduating, we have all gotten married and added 7 babies between us all! In the summer of 2019, we celebrated our 10th reunion. We allowed our spouses to join us for this special occasion and spent a week in Putin-Bay, Ohio. We paddle boarded and kayaked on Lake Erie, played lots of games, shared lots of nursing stories, and went to Cedar Point. Each year we draw states out of a hat for the next year. In 2020 we are planning to meet up in Chicago! We started a hashtag and Instagram account if you’d like to follow our adventures!” #50stateJMreUnions @jmu50states50years

Katie (Shaffer) Thorpe (’09) worked at Children’s National Medical Center in their Cardiac Intensive Care Unit immediately after graduating from JMU, caring for infants and adults after surgery to repair congenital heart defects. In 2015 Thorpe completed her doctorate of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP) at Virginia Commonwealth University and is currently a nurse anesthetist at Virginia Hospital Center with Dominion Anesthesia. She provides anesthesia for a variety of cases including colonoscopies, ENT, neuro/ craniotomies, orthopedics, and cardiac cath lab. “My favorite memories of JMU Nursing were the times with my amazing classmates. Long hours with my study group coming up with all kinds of crazy ways to remember the material. Nights out celebrating after a test with my friend Caroline Wiseman (Cannon) who would later become my maid of honor. Car rides to and from clinical jamming out to music and talking about our days.”

Krista (Kohan) Sibole (’10) has been an ER nurse since the moment she stepped out of JMU and can’t imagine doing anything else. She has been married for 7 years and has two daughters, Amelia



and Felicity. “Long, long hours at ECL library (East Campus Library now Rose Library) with our nursing crew in a study room, days and days on end. Also will never forget our clinicals for Psych and the stories those patients had. I think my favorite class was Med Surg clinical with Professor Sawin.”

Molly Chilton (’11) currently works as a Fertility Nurse Coordinator at Shady Grove Fertility and worked NICU for eight years prior. “My favorite memories are Pediatric clinical at UVA with Professor Julie Strunk and the girls I met through that clinical. Ten years later we are still very close friends and keep in touch and see each other regularly.”

Abigail Frederickson Webber (’13) has been an Air Force labor and delivery nurse since graduation. She has been stationed at Joint Base Langley Eustis (VA), Yokota Air Base, (Japan) and Wright Patterson Air Force Base (OH). This year, Webber earned her MSN from Liberty University with a focus in Nursing Informatics. “I like to think that I have the best job ever! I get to serve my country and at the same time, I get to 37


bring babies into the world! I loved every second of my JMU nursing experience. I remember my very first clinical with Dr. Powell at Sunnyside where she taught us the importance of simple gestures going a long way. I think my love for OB came from Dr. Jag who made sure I saw a birth during my clinical experience. I’ll never forget her teaching us how to perform Leopold’s maneuvers by putting baby dolls under baggy shirts to practice on each other. I am extremely grateful for the JMU nursing program which set the stage for my Air Force career in nursing!”

Boyce McClellan (’14) is currently working as an ICU travel nurse at Inova Alexandria. He spent 4 years at the Neuro ICU and then the Surgical Trauma Burn ICU at UVA. “I worked for a year as an assistant manager of the general ICU at Sentara, and then became a traveler.”

Whitney Thomas (’14) is currently working as a Nurse Practitioner specializing in cardiovascular disease in the Northern Virginia area. After graduation from JMU in 2014, she worked as a RN in the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute while going to school at George Mason

University. She graduated with honors from GMU in 2019 with her MSN/FNP. For the past two years she has taught clinical at The George Washington University and loves to shape the minds of future nurses. In her time away from the hospitals where she practices, she likes to spend time with her fiancé, family and Rottweiler pup named “Amio”. From a family full of former Dukes, she speaks very fondly of her time at JMU. “My grandmother was the best and greatest nursing influence in my life. Aside from her, I truly owe my strong foundation and my further love of nursing to JMU. Each day in practice, I become more humbled and confident that I have chosen the right career as I strive to establish positive, trusting relationships with my patients and their loved ones. I will be forever grateful for the excellent education I received at JMU!” Amy Chico (’15M) graduated with her Masters in Family Nurse Practitioner concentration. She currently works as an NP for MedExpress in Harrisonburg. “My time at JMU was wonderful. The professors were very committed to seeing us succeed. I have fond memories of my time at JMU and am grateful for the way they prepared me for practice.”

Kelly Curci (’15) worked in OB for the first four years of her career and then last year transferred to be an RN in a pediatric office. “I love watching our patients grow and meet their milestones! JMU Nursing changed my life. I remember countless study groups (and Starbucks) in Carrier Library, walking the quad to Burruss Hall, and the amazing

professors who supported me along the way, especially Dr. Diane Babral, who we tragically lost before graduation. So from bedside nursing to an office nurse, from OB to pediatrics, I take every day to learn something new and BE THE CHANGE. Thank you JMU Nursing for the best four years of my life!”

Ashley N. Kim (’15) works at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Since graduation, she has commissioned into the U.S. Army as an active duty Nurse Corp Officer and states, “I have learned the balance of being a soldier first, leader always, and Nurse Corp Officer second.” She is excited to begin actively applying what it means to be a leader in the Army while using her clinical and critical thinking skills that JMU has equipped her with. Her favorite memory about JMU nursing was the opportunity to mentor younger nursing students during simulation clinical. “I loved working with the simulation lab staff and seeing the behind the scenes of those clinical experiences.” Phyllis Adams Mathews (‘16DNP) is a Women’s Healthcare Nurse Practitioner for the JMU Health Center. She continues to have a passion for research and has two publications in the last year: Mathews, P. A., & Hulton, L. (2020). Interprofessional collaboration practice: Are you doing it well? Individual perceptions within Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice, 19, 100326. doi: 10.1016/j.xjep.2020.100326, and Adams, P. (2019, April) Bits, Bytes, Nibbles, and Clusters - An Interprofessional

Practicum Experience: An Innovative Application of a Doctor of Nursing Practice Essential IV. Journal of Doctoral Nursing Practice,12 (1). 10-15.doi. org/10.1891/2380-9418.12.1.10

class I graduated with. I think we all had a great sense of camaraderie and I am friends with most of them on Facebook and love seeing what they have been doing the last couple of years.”

Danielle Butler (’16) is currently enrolled in the JMU FNP program to soon become a double Duke! She currently works at UVA Medical Center on the Neuroscience Acute Care floor where she started right after graduation. “My favorite memory from JMU’s nursing program were the long-lasting friendships I developed. Having such a cohesive bond with my peers during those two years made such a huge difference to me and helped me get through the tough times that come with nursing school. Those friendships are still helping me now as a floor nurse, working through the trialing times of this pandemic.”

Emily Corridon (’16) works at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in the Pediatric ICU. For the time being, she is in the adult NSICU working with COVID-19 patients. Corridon did three years at the start of her career at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in the Adult/Peds mixed PACU, and transferred last July 2019 to INOVA Fairfax. “It has been a wonderful transition and I absolutely love working with the kids! Favorite memories- there’s so many! I absolutely loved my community health class with professor Sawin. We all sat in her family room with our group for the semester and it felt so warm and familiar, just chatting there and in the kitchen with her and her kids! It made me realize JMU has some of the most personable and caring advisors and professors out there, and I couldn’t have been more thankful for their example! We were blessed to help that semester in a community center serving meals and doing simple medical cares such as accuchecks and blood pressure. At the beginning of each meal, we held hands in a circle and said something we were thankful for- that always really brought me back to earth! Not something many college kids get to experience. I also adored women’s health class with Dr. Trimm. I remember sitting in that old second floor Burruss room and her leaping out of her chair in excitement to teach us about child birth. The enthusiasm of everyone never ceased to amaze me, even after years of teaching and nursing.”

Rachel Castleton (’16) has been an ER nurse for almost four years and a travel nurse for almost two years. She is working on getting a permanent job in the ER in Denver Colorado. Castleton has traveled/worked in NC, VA, CO and CA. “My favorite memories mostly just include the



Tiffany Kidd (’16DNP) is a Nurse Practitioner at Centra Health/Richeson Drive Pediatrics in Lynchburg, VA.) “My favorite memory is how we helped pave the way as the first DNP cohort for the years to come. Going to Washington DC for Health Policy week was one of the best experiences ever! Loved Dr. Hulton, Dr. Eaton, Dr. Knopp, Dr. Zook and Dr. Patty Hale. They were and are the best!”

Rachel Markovich (’16) is currently working at the brand new adolescent behavioral health unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital and has been there since 2018. She has been a key leader on her unit and obtained the status of RN4. The highlight of her career thus far has been going on medical missions. Most recently she went to Baños, Ecuador and held clinics in the towns surrounding there. “I am currently wrapping up my MSN FNP at George Mason and will sit for boards next month and hope to obtain a position in the primary care setting. I could blame Dr. Argenbright for planting the thought in my head back in 2015 at my final evaluation after my very first clinical rotation at Augusta Health. My favorite memories include women’s heath class with professor (now Dr.) Jag lecturing while holding a baby doll by the head! And lab with Dr. Trimm was always a fun time!” 39


Nurses are truly incredible people who have a talent to connect with each other on multiple levels. My peers had this ability and to be constantly surrounded with such understanding is unparalleled to any of my other experiences. I can’t say enough good things about the quality of my peers and my professors. Thanks JMU Nursing!”

Maria (Gurganus) Swift (‘16) has been working high risk Labor and Delivery since graduation. She has worked in Norfolk and Fairfax, VA and is currently back in Norfolk at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s Labor and Delivery unit. “My absolute favorite professor in the nursing program was Professor Lam. She was an awesome teacher and took the time to help us individually throughout her course. Another fond memory was actually doing a community health clinical in my hometown. The experience was enlightening and gave me a different perspective of where I grew up. The program was definitely tough, but we made it enjoyable and ended up being like family.”

Carrie Brooks (’17) works at Chippenham Hospital on the Medical/ Surgical/ Trauma ICU in Richmond Virginia. “I’d have to say one of my favorite memories is running a code blue in Clin Apps 1 and Dr. Trimm had her phone in the air playing the Imperial March from Star Wars while we were all trying to act like we knew what we were doing! I also realized how lucky we were to be surrounded by high quality peers and professors.

Lindsey Carver (’17) is currently a COVID-19 Charge Nurse on an ICU at VCU Health. She will be starting at Radford University in the Fall in their BSN-DNP FNP program. “One of my favorite memories at JMU was the summer I spent in Costa Rica taking nursing elective courses with Dr. Strunk and Dr. Sobel. They have served as great role models in the nursing profession.”

Ryan Caruso (’17) graduated with his BSN and BS in Kinesiology. “I am in the country’s number one CRNA program - VCU while I travel nurse during the first two semesters of their doctorate program.” To date, he has worked in a trauma hospital in cardiac surgery ICU and in three other regional ICUs (including two travel nurse assignments). What

Caruso’s loves about his career is “[t]he ability to learn everyday while working alongside some of the most intellectual minds in medicine.” Caruso’s favorite memories about JMU Nursing are the friends he made, “studying, laughing and enjoying life with them. My current roommate was actually in all of my clinicals with me!” The photo he shares is of his Southern Border Expedition to raise money for Operation Smile. “I began my world first trek one month after graduation and three days after passing the NCLEX. Together Operation Smile and I raised donations to cover over 20 surgeries, $1.1 million in media revenue and reached over 3.4 million unique viewers spreading their ‘Until We Heal’ campaign. A trip of a lifetime!”

Alex Cho (’17) works at Medstar Washington Hospital Center and has great memories of skills lab with professor Donna Trim.

Chris Coulter (‘17M) gradated with his Masters in the Family Nurse Practitioner concentration. He currently works as a Nurse Practitioner in Pediatrics, with LewisGale Physicians, in Salem,

Va. Coulter also continues to work as a Flight Nurse with Centra Health in Lynchburg, Va. Hannah Hyre (’17) is currently a nurse at SRMH in Harrisonburg on the Family Birthplace and considers it her dream job. She started her career after graduating on UVA’s L&D unit, where she was offered a job following her capstone. “Graduating from JMU School of Nursing, I felt very prepared to take on the challenge of transitioning into a new nurse! Our Women’s Health class and Peds Chronic Illness electives are what fueled my passion for the field I now work in. Special thanks to Professors Jag, Silviera, and Leisen!”

Deb Burner Kile (’87, ‘15M, ‘17DNP), a triple Duke, is currently at Sentara RMH Medical Center as the Quality Improvement Coordinator. Her work revolves around Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) goals such as sepsis mortality, length of stay, readmissions. Kile’s work slowed tremendously with the pandemic as all efforts were placed on managing COVID-19 efforts. During that time she was able to assist with the patient, visitor and employee screening processes. “I also serve as the Nurse Residency Coordinator. The social distancing guidelines resulted in revising the residency seminars to adhere to an online format. I have been concerned about how our new nurses are doing in this stressful time. I have been able to engage speakers that have presented and led group discussions on resiliency, etc. I call it “Surviving and Thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic”. I believe my

DNP education has made been helpful during the pandemic. There is so much information and data out there. Having the DNP background has been beneficial in determining ‘good data from bad data.’ I have found myself critically assessing the research which has helped me see when leaders are using data to make evidence-based (or non-evidence based) decisions. Her favorite memories are clinicals in the basement of Wine-Price with her favorite professor Judy Holt and having wonderful classmates and friends.” Matthew Benjamin Murphy (’17) is currently employed at INOVA and has floated to just about every floor dealing with COVID-19 during this pandemic. “My favorite moment during the nursing program was the professors believing in me.”

Zach Rich (’17) is currently working in the Emergency Department (ED) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He loves the fast-paced, unpredictable, educational setting of the ED within a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center. “Wanting to go into pediatric nursing since I was 10, Professor Leisen’s Child Health class was naturally my favorite course, and I have kept in touch with her as a valued mentor. With that being said though, I learned more in my fourth-semester Capstone on the Surgical/ Trauma Unit at Winchester Medical Center (WMC) than I did in any class. Being one-on-one with an experienced nurse, fully immersed in the nursing environment, offered me tremendous opportunity for learning and growth as a soon-to-be New Grad RN.”



Breanna Bosley (’18) works at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, VA on the Progressive Care Unit (PCU). “I have a few favorite memories of my time in nursing school. One of them being the first time I wore the iconic ‘purple scrubs.’ This moment was one I had hoped for ever since I stepped foot on the JMU campus. Little did I know I would have some of the most challenging and memorable experiences in this program that would impact me in more ways than I could imagine. It was in this program that I met some of my best friends who I am still close to today. Another favorite memory from the JMU nursing program would be the amazing faculty and staff we were fortunate enough to work with. A few of my favorite professors were Professor Weeks and Dr. Herron. These two individuals help me become the nurse I am today. They challenged us in class and clinical but were always there to talk through anything that was on our mind. I had the privilege of having Professor Weeks as my clinical instructor for my semester 2 clinical on the Progressive Care Unit at SRMH. It was because of her vast knowledge and incredible teaching that I knew PCU was the place for me. She pushed me each and every clinical to reach my highest potential and I can’t thank her enough for that.”



Katie Lynch (’18) is currently working at Duke University Hospital in their Cardiothoracic Surgery ICU. “One of my favorite memories from JMU were during my last semester when we got to work in the simulation lab and in clinicals with the first/second semesters. It created great relationships and I became more comfortable in my clinical skills/knowledge right before taking the NCLEX.”

Melanie (Lyons) Blanton (’18) is currently working as a clinical nurse 2 at VCU Health in downtown Richmond, Virginia on the Medical Surgical Unit. She was the recipient of two daisy awards in her first year and a half. “My favorite memories from JMU nursing school are of Dr. Weeks and Professor Haynes teaching us about sepsis and pancreatitis and finishing up their class with game shows for final exam review. I also loved our Pediatric class with Dr. Strunk and all her memorable stories that made the information easy to remember.” Melanie married fellow duke, Timothy Blanton (’18) on September 5th, 2020.

Lindsey Snedeker (’18) currently works in the ICU at Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) in Arlington, Virginia in the ICU. “I see corona every day. We’ve had to learn a new style of nursing and be very adaptive and creative. It’s been very challenging but incredibly empowering.” She shares a picture of her and fellow Duke and now coworker, Olivia Leshock (‘17), who graduated with a Health Science degree and then went on to attend an accelerated nursing program. The two bonded while participating in a study abroad program to Spain in 2016 led by professor Erika Sawin, now a favorite memory they both share.

Amy Wilson (‘18M) worked as an RN for 24 years, then decided to pursue her dream to become a nurse practitioner. She received her Masters of science in nursing from JMU in 2018. She continued to work in Ambulatory Surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital during graduate school and after graduation. She accepted the position at a rural clinic in 2019 and currently works as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Tappahannock Primary Care in the Northern Neck of Virginia. She enjoys traveling and missions’ trips and went on a study abroad

trip to Tanzania with JMU in 2017. “That was an amazing experience and one I will always remember. Very thankful to God for leading me to JMU. Am forever grateful for the education I received, their support and encouragement to me, and their leadership that helped me succeed and accomplish my goals.”

Tiffany Boyd (’19) works at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital taking care of oncology patients. “One of my favorite memories from JMU nursing is how passionate all the professors were. For example, Karen Weeks had a passion for sepsis, which is a life-threatening infection. Due to her thorough teaching I was able to catch a patient going into early septic shock and get him the interventions that he needed.”

Jesse Brunk (’19) currently works at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Virginia. “The coolest part of nursing for me is working directly with my patients and seeing the impact that I can have, whether it’s providing physical help or offering emotional support to get the patient through their difficult situation. Since the outbreak of COVID-19,

I have often been floating to the units of the hospital designated to caring for patients who are positive or suspected of having COVID-19. I have many good memories from nursing school at JMU, but some of my best memories were made in the simulation and skills labs. I miss all my wonderful nursing professors and I miss sim man - he and I became pretty good buddies while I was there.”

Elle del Gallo (’19) works on the Medical Respiratory ICU at VCU Hospital. “I really loved working with Drs. Herron and Lam on my Honors thesis!”

Liz Marcone (‘19) is currently working as a RN at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in the Emergency Department. “It has been quite the experience being a new grad in a busy ER during a pandemic, that’s for sure! But I have already learned so much and I feel that JMU has done an amazing job in preparing me for this experience. I would say that my favorite part about my journey through JMU nursing school was the friends that I gained in my cohort. Julia, Taylor, Pax, Liz N., and Joey became such a major part of my experience. They made classes, projects, and studying for exams

fun and bearable! They were such a great support group for me and I couldn’t have gotten through those 4 semesters without them. We did A LOT of studying, laughing, and crying together. It was never a competition between us and we all encouraged and lifted each other up. I thank the School of Nursing for giving me these lifelong friends! We still talk almost every day in our group chat, but now telling each other about a crazy shift or patient experience we had!”

Sarah (Reid) Frederick (’19) works at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in the ER. “It has been such a unique time to start my nursing career with the COVID19 outbreak. It’s really opened my eyes to how vital and important our work as nurses can be. I love the ER just as much as I thought I would. Seeing all different kinds of patients and situations every day makes each shift new and exciting!” Frederick’s favorite memory was the White Coat Ceremony. “I met some of my best friends that day unknowingly. From day one of nursing my life changed for the better and I will forever keep that experience close to my heart.”

JMU alumni working at Georgetown University Hospital as level IV NICU nurses: Jenn (Corser) Hymel (‘15), Allie Smith (‘18), Chelsea (Seaton) Appanah (‘13) and Kristen (Dasch) Flood (‘12) 2020


Photo of the Health and Behavioral Studies building, home of JMU’s School of Nursing.

ACADEMIC PROGRAMS DNP PROGRAM Online Executive Format MSN PROGRAM Online & Hybrid Options Concentrations Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Family Nurse Practitioner Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Clinical Nurse Leader Nurse Administration Nurse Midwifery RN TO BSN PROGRAM Online Program BSN PROGRAM Pre-licensure on campus

School of Nursing MSC 4305, 235 M.L.K. Jr. Way Harrisonburg, VA 22807

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Articles inside

Alumni update 2020 article cover image

Alumni update 2020

pages 35-46
Nursing convocation awards and recognitions: December 2019 article cover image

Nursing convocation awards and recognitions: December 2019

pages 33-34
JMU honors college and Nursing collaborate to grow JMU Nursing Honors Scholars article cover image

JMU honors college and Nursing collaborate to grow JMU Nursing Honors Scholars

page 32
Embodying the change: The RN-BSN program article cover image

Embodying the change: The RN-BSN program

pages 28-29
Julie Strunk becomes a fellow in the AAN article cover image

Julie Strunk becomes a fellow in the AAN

page 31
MSN alumni highlights article cover image

MSN alumni highlights

page 27
Advanced practice leading the way: The MSN program article cover image

Advanced practice leading the way: The MSN program

page 26
From winning project to practice article cover image

From winning project to practice

page 23
Agents of change: Doctor of Nursing Practice article cover image

Agents of change: Doctor of Nursing Practice

page 22
DNP alumnae implement COVID-19 protocol article cover image

DNP alumnae implement COVID-19 protocol

pages 24-25
JMU faculty and students care for our most vulnerable article cover image

JMU faculty and students care for our most vulnerable

page 21
JMU School of Nursing well prepared for switch to virtual simulation article cover image

JMU School of Nursing well prepared for switch to virtual simulation

page 20
Faculty on the front lines: JMU Nursing faculty assist with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts article cover image

Faculty on the front lines: JMU Nursing faculty assist with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts

pages 16-17
In the beginning: Interview with professor emerita Judy Holt article cover image

In the beginning: Interview with professor emerita Judy Holt

pages 6-9
Creating a national presence article cover image

Creating a national presence

page 13
Health policy and advocacy embedded at every level of nursing education article cover image

Health policy and advocacy embedded at every level of nursing education

pages 14-15
A foundation for excellence article cover image

A foundation for excellence

page 10
Fostering community engagement and innovation article cover image

Fostering community engagement and innovation

page 11
Expanding for the future article cover image

Expanding for the future

page 12
Letter from the director article cover image

Letter from the director

page 3
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