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Message from the Dean

D “Throughout the next academic year, we look forward to expanding our impact to new geographies, knowing the world needs Egan nursing and health studies professionals, now more than ever.”

uring the second year of my deanship, I completed the one-year walk-through of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. To be honest, I was hesitant to begin this journey, given the many other responsibilities of my role. However, a cataclysmic collision of personal and professional circumstances revealed how much I needed God. When I finally met with Rev. Thomas Fitzpatrick, S.J., he labeled this, “God breaking through.” I’d been born, raised, and educated thoroughly in the Catholic tradition. Yet the one-year journey rewove God intricately through the pattern of my personal and professional lives, in a way I could not have known I needed. Of the many lessons I learned, the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises brought a renewed perspective of my role and the work of the Egan School. I could not have appreciated the impact of this Ignatian journey on my life more than I have throughout the past 18 months. Operating the Egan School during a pandemic presented an unprecedented challenge, at which the Egan was at the forefront. We worked with University and state agencies to ensure safe and effective education and healthcare for our entire community as well as patients across environments of care. Undergraduate nursing students and faculty conducted Covidtesting for members of our campus community. Graduate students served as contact tracers and provided daily check-ins to students in isolation and quarantine. We did all of this while continuing high-quality classes and clinical experiences to ensure educational success. Despite the tremendous effort in ensuring the health and wellness of our University population during a pandemic, the Egan School had a highly successful year of innovation and growth, as demonstrated in this Egan Update. As we launch the next academic year, we simultaneously celebrate the 500th anniversary of Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s injury in the Battle of Pamplona. This experience led to his discernment, and path toward spiritual vocation. In Saint Ignatius’ tradition, we open our doors to a new academic year with a number of ambitious goals to drive us forward. As Ignatius grew through his adversity, we innovate through ours — continually educating men and women for others. We look forward to expanding our impact to new geographies, knowing the world needs Egan nursing and health studies professionals, now more than ever. I remain eternally grateful to our faculty, staff, students, and many supporters across our community, who embrace our shared mission through this troubled time. I wish you much health and wellness throughout the next academic year. Sincerely yours,

Meredith Wallace Kazer PhD, APRN, FAAN Dean & Professor, Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies ii FAL L 2 02 1 | EGAN UPDATE


Students gain hands-on experience during an emergency room simulation at Egan School’s accredited Simulation Center. Photo by Fairfield University Media Center


Meredith Kazer, PhD, APRN, FAAN Dean and Professor of Nursing Audrey Beauvais, DNP, MBA, RN Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor Joyce Shea, DNSc, APRN, PMHCNS-BC Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor Karen Corcoran, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs and Professor of Practice Katherine H. Saracino MSN, RN, CWOCN, CHSE Assistant Dean and Instructor of the Practice Sara Colabella ’08, MA’11 Integrated Marketing Manager Nancy (Gelston) Dobos ’91 Designer Send Inquiries to: Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies Fairfield University 1073 North Benson Road Fairfield, CT 06824-5195 203-254-4000


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Fairfield Egan Year in Review

A Call for Public Health Professionals

Master’s Entry to Practice Nursing (MEPN) Program Embracing Virtual Reality in Healthcare

Galway Girls

End-of-Life Care Curriculum Distinguishes Fairfield Nursing Programs Fairfield Celebrates Classes of 2020 and 2021 at Commencement Ceremonies Faculty Newsbreakers

Welcome New Faculty



CCNE Accredited


Best College for Nursing in Connecticut Niche’s 2021 Best Colleges

Society for Simulation in Healthcare Accredited

National League for Nursing Center of Excellence


Employment Rate Six Months Post-Graduation


Nursing Program in Connecticut College Factual



Nursing School in the New England Region

Best Grad Nursing in Connecticut

Nursing Schools Almanac

U.S. News & World Report

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Average salary of class of 2020 graduates

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to help at a clinic like this at such an important moment in our world. Seeing everyone come together to coordinate this with Griffin Health — and working with Fairfield to make this happen — is huge and shows Fairfield’s dedication to vaccinate their students and do what’s best for the community.”

Kayla Beckman ’22 volunteer at the on-campus vaccine clinic

“As men and women for others, our Fairfield nursing faculty and students are uniquely poised and eager to participate in the Covid-19 vaccination clinic. During these difficult times, we are grateful for the opportunity to do our part in bringing this pandemic toward its conclusion.”


Dean Meredith Kazer PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN

“When something like this pandemic happens in the world, we all ask ‘how can I help?’ How could I not help? Coming together as a community, we collectively make a contribution and a difference.”

Danielle Katz DNP candidate, contact tracing volunteer

“This is a wonderful experience for nursing students to have. It helps us apply what we learn in the classroom to the clinical setting, and gives us the opportunity to fine tune our communication skills.”

Kathrine Vitiello ’21 testing clinic volunteer

Following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, professionals around the nation were forced to adapt to a new reality just as quickly and intensely as the virus was spreading. From the swift transition to hybrid learning, to Covid-19 testing, to vaccination clinics, to treating patients in the hospital, Fairfield Egan alumni, faculty, and students were at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. EGAN UPDATE | FALL 2021 3

A Call for Public Health Professionals

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As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States, one thing became clear — the need for public health professionals is more pressing than ever.


n May 2021, the Biden Administration announced a $7.4 billion plan to recruit and hire public health professionals to combat Covid-19 and prepare for future public health crises. The plan would allow states to expand their public health departments, expand the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, and establish a Public Health AmeriCorps. As a leader in healthcare education, Fairfield Egan has been training public health professionals since the launch of a program under its Health Studies branch in 2018. Offered as both an undergraduate major and minor, a public health degree provides students with the opportunity to learn more about the health issues facing communities. Rooted in science and social justice, public health is a prevention-oriented, multi-disciplinary field that promotes conditions to protect and improve the health of people and communities. Public health professionals are involved in a variety of roles including outbreak investigation, humanitarian response, cancer and heart disease prevention, injury and violence prevention, environmental toxicology, advocacy, immunization, bioterrorism surveillance, food and drug quality, public health nutrition, zoonotic disease control, corporate wellness, and more. “The Egan School is ready to educate future public health professionals in both nursing (as public health nurses are needed) and public health. Our program is new and growing, but we have the capacity and resources to accept larger incoming classes and internal transfers from other majors each year. In addition, we are currently developing a master’s program to meet the need for graduate-level public health

professionals,” said Program Director Kimberly N. Doughty, PhD, MPH, CHES. Fairfield’s Public Health program’s coursework reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the field by having students take courses in biological sciences, environmental science, nursing, the humanities, social sciences, and administration. This past year, Dr. Doughty and Jennifer Schindler-Ruwisch, DrPH advised 16 students’ capstone projects, covering a variety of relevant public health topics that included food insecurity, small business mask requirements during the pandemic, racial injustice and health disparities, and substance abuse. These same students doubled as interns on and off campus, working in vaccination clinics and other essential on-ground Covid-19 efforts to protect the well-being of others, reduce health disparities, and promote the core values of the program. Students pursuing a public health degree partake in a Community Engaged Learning (CEL) course, in which they are appointed to work with community partner Caroline House of Bridgeport. This past semester, the students focused on maintaining physical and mental health during the pandemic, using virtual wellness workshops, creating videos, and leading cooking demonstrations and activities for families and young children. “Training undergraduates in public health is critical in today’s world. The need for public health professionals at all levels — community, society, policy — continues to grow. Our program trains undergraduates to be an important part of this transformative work. This is what makes it so critical (and special!),” said Dr. Schindler-Ruwisch. As part of the Public Health program curriculum,

Kimberly Doughty

Jennifer Schindler-Ruwisch

students are required to participate in an internship. This year, public health major Kristen Boyle ’21 partnered with Southwest Community Center to launch a three-episode advanced directives podcast. Each episode explored a guest’s experiences involving an advanced directive; topics included the factors that drive a patient to obtain an advanced directive, the importance of having one, and the resources available to patients. The podcast’s list of guests will feature a patient, an internal medicine physician, and the chief medical officer at Southwest. The Egan School is in the process of developing a fully online master’s-level program in public health designed to prepare graduates for a wide range of careers. The proposed 42 credit curriculum is designed to meet the accreditation criteria established by CEPH. Dr. Doughty said, “The Egan School’s commitment to interprofessional education makes it an ideal home for a E graduate program in public health.” l


Master’s Entry to Practice Nursing Fairfield Egan launches new accelerated Master’s Entry to Practice Nursing (MEPN) program — the first in Connecticut.


f ever there is a time that highlights the need for more highly qualified nurses in the workforce, it is now, amid this coronavirus pandemic. The launch of the MEPN program couldn’t have come at a better time,” said professor and program director Erica Wuchiski, MSN, RN. The Master’s Entry to Practice Nursing (MEPN) program provides a unique opportunity for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to pursue a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree in an accelerated format. The program is designed to draw upon prior education and experience, allowing students to earn a master’s degree in two years. The MEPN program will equip students with valuable knowledge and skills to lead change, promote health, and elevate care in a variety of settings.

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At the completion of this program, students will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX to become a registered nurse. MEPN programs are newer but are increasing in popularity and success. Recently approved by the Connecticut State Board of Nurse Examiners, Fairfield’s MEPN is the first such program in the state of Connecticut to prepare advanced generalists for registered nursing practice and leadership. The MEPN program’s first class of students began in May 2021. Originally planning to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant, Hannah Dellecave decided that nursing was a better option. “I’ve always been excited to work in healthcare, and initially I thought PA school was the most efficient way to get there. This turned out to be the wrong fit for me. It focused

“ My goal as a healthcare provider is to provide empathetic, compassionate, personal care to help patients feel good physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

Hannah Dellecave

much less on patient care and experience than nursing programs do. My goal as a healthcare provider is to provide empathetic, compassionate, personal care to help patients feel good physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I felt that I was not in the appropriate environment to learn the values that I believe should be at the core of any healthcare career,” she explained. “After doing some research (and some soulsearching), I became more familiar with other branches of medicine and healthcare. Nursing seemed to better fit my personality and my overall career goals.” The MEPN is a full-time 76-credit/800-clinical hours program to be completed in 24 months. Admission to the program will be competitively offered to students who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four–year college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.3. Applicants must have completed the required prerequisite courses prior to admission. On her experience thus far, Dellecave said, “All of the professors we have encountered have been very fair, helpful, and supportive. The courses are fast-paced, but not overwhelming. This cohort is a wonderful group of people and I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by such smart, kind, friendly classmates. I’m excited to continue on in this E experience with them!” l For more information about the program, visit


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A senior’s capstone project enhances patient care and improves outcomes. irtual reality (VR) is a computergenerated simulation that allows people to interact within a three-dimensional environment — users can walk through Disney World or scuba through a coral reef, for example. But VR is more than just for fun; increasingly, the technology is being used in healthcare — to calm a pediatric patient before surgery, for example, or assist in the treatment of phobias and addictions. When Caroline Smith ’21 did her clinical rotation on the geriatric floor of Yale-New Haven Hospital, she wondered what VR technology could do for patients suffering not only from their illnesses and decreased mobility, but also from the aggravating factors of social isolation and loneliness brought on by the pandemic. Those over 65 are especially vulnerable to feeling isolated because of health issues, the loss of friends and spouses, and the experience of living alone. Loneliness is not just a state of mind; it can also have grave consequences for health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, socially isolated older adults have a 50 percent increase in the risk of dementia, and a 26 percent increase in risk of all-cause mortality. On her floor, Smith noticed her patients were struggling with days of forced isolation. “They wanted to talk to you, since they couldn’t see their families or have visitors,” she recalled. Since iPads were already being used throughout the floor to keep patients in touch with loved ones, “I started doing research on VR technology and its use in healthcare,”

she said. While a truly immersive VR experience requires that users wear a clunky headset that would be awkward with older, hospitalized patients, she found the technology could be used with the iPads to deliver a similar experience. “Studies have shown that VR had a positive effect on participants’ social and emotional well-being,” said Smith. Besides reducing loneliness, subjects self-reported feeling more relaxed, with less stress and depression. There were no reports of dizziness or confusion brought on after using the technology, even among those with mild cognitive impairments. While virtual reality “can’t solve a complex mental health problem, it can impact nurses’ professional practice by helping them connect with patients and allowing them opportunities to enhance patient care and improve outcomes,” said Smith, a Haddon Heights, New Jersey native who was drawn to the profession because of the care and compassion she witnessed with a nursing staff caring for her grandparents. Smith turned her research into her senior capstone project overseen by faculty mentors Majeda Basilio, clinical instructor, and Katherine Saracino, MSN, RN, CWOCN, CHSE, assistant dean and instructor of the practice. The result was a flyer for nurses on the floor, touting the benefits of VR and providing QR (quick response) codes so nurses can quickly and easily help patients (virtually) stroll on a beach, for example, explore the Louvre, or drive through the mountains in Switzerland. “Nurses are always looking for ways to enhance patient E care, but they have such limited time,” said Smith. l

Caroline Smith ’21

“Studies have shown that VR had a positive effect on participants’ social and emotional well-being.”


Galway Girls

Egan School Class of ’21 students turned their fond reflections about their time in Galway, Ireland into a book, titled Our Journey Abroad: Through the Eyes of the Galway Girls. In mid-March of 2020, 28 Egan School nursing students had to quickly vacate their semester-long study abroad program in Galway, Ireland and return to the U.S. due to growing worries over the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the program’s academics were moved online, so students experienced a seamless continuation of their coursework despite having to return early to their respective homes. Still, there was little time to say goodbye to new friends, thrilling excursions were abruptly canceled, and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of living and studying in Europe was suddenly over. Instead of seeing it all through a lens of negativity and disappointment, the nursing students — all members of the Class of ’21 — turned their fond reflections into a self-published book, titled Our Journey Abroad: Through the Eyes of the Galway Girls. The book was the idea of one of their teachers, Associate Professor Linda Roney, EdD, RN-BC, CPEN, CNE. She believed it would help the students process their experiences. “When they came home, they understood why they came home — there was a pandemic,” said Dr. Roney. “But on a very personal level, something they had worked hard to achieve and dreamed of doing had ended abruptly. Reflection often helps us learn from our experiences.” During Dr. Roney’s “Foundations of Research for EvidenceBased Practice” course, students shared their personal stories. Ultimately, every student wrote a chapter for the book. In her “What I Wish I Knew Before I Left” chapter, Molly Hilliard ’21 wrote, “I look back on those months, and I remember how connected the world is and how beautiful our similarities and differences are across the globe, especially when shared.” 10 FAL L 2 02 1 | EGAN UPDATE

Some wrote of unique European adventures. Clare Cagney ‘21 reminisced about the fun of meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also known as Prince William and Kate Middleton. Lauren Jamieson ’21, co-editor of the book with Dr. Roney, said it was a great way to finish up senior year and achieve some closure. In her chapter, she observed, “If there is anything I learned from abroad, it’s to not take life too seriously and to live in the moment. Tomorrow is never guaranteed…” When they came home, many of the student nurses worked in hospitals taking care of Covid patients. They were also student leaders at the Covid testing site at Fairfield, and once vaccines became available, they helped immunize the community. On May 18, the book’s publication was celebrated with a virtual launch party. “To look at what you made out of that experience, to take it from being a disappointment to a growth experience is so impressive to me,” Dean Meredith Kazer, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN, said at the event. Waving a little Irish flag, Ann Monahan, a site coordinator of the Galway program, received a big round of applause as she “Zoomed in” from Ireland. “I know it was not easy for all of you, but it makes you much more resilient,” she told the students. On graduation morning, the student-authors surprised their parents with copies of Our Journey Abroad. They dedicated the book to Dr. Roney, who sees it as the students’ legacy to Fairfield. “They are permanently bonded as authors on this book,” she said. “I wanted them to have this tangible item that they could take away, that they could pick up reflect on their E memories with a smile.” l

The book is available at Proceeds from its sales will go to support students at the Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies.

FAR LEFT: Haley Denis ’21, Bridget Griffin ’21, Lauren Jamieson ’21, Hannah Cahill ’21 at the Cliffs of Moher. LEFT FROM TOP: Students wrote about their unique European adventures in the book; and Associate Professor Linda Roney and nursing students at the nursing school at the National University of Ireland.

Photos contributed by Katherine Knapik ’21 and Lauren Jamieson ’21


END-OF-LIFE CARE CURRICULUM DISTINGUISHES FAIRFIELD NURSING PROGRAMS The Kanarek Center for Palliative Care Education (KCPC), housed in Fairfield University’s Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, infuses palliative and end-of-life care into the nursing curriculum to enhance undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.

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ost people don’t associate palliative and end-of-life care with nurse anesthesia, said Nancy Moriber, PhD. “Yet nurse anesthetists must often have difficult conversations with patients and families about complications associated with anesthesia and life-threatening illnesses. By threading palliative care into our curriculum, we’re making sure our nurses are prepared to have these conversations.” The KCPC continues to enhance course work in graduate programs. “Through the ongoing efforts of the KCPC, we intend to ensure high quality interprofessional palliative care for all people living with serious illnesses. It is our goal to empower our current and future nursing workforce to be leaders and to advocate for this type of holistic and compassionate care,” said KCPC Director Eileen O’Shea, DNP. All of Fairfield’s nursing programs focus on patient-centered care; that is, adhering to the stated wishes and needs of the patient whenever possible. In this regard, nurse anesthetists often face unique challenges. A terminally ill patient might have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order that precludes the use of intubation or a respirator, for example. Nurse anesthetists also deal with organ donors and their families. “With an organ donor, the nurse has to keep the patient alive, monitoring blood pressure and respiration, until the transplant team is ready to harvest the major organs. Then he or she has to remove that patient from life support, which is an extremely difficult thing to do,” said Dr. Moriber. “Our students practice this in the Sim lab, and role play these conversations with families.” Dr. Moriber and Assistant Professor Steve Belmont, DNP, are both certified in EPEC (Education in Palliative and

End-of-Life Care), allowing them to train students. The Egan School’s doctoral program, the DNP in Nurse Midwifery, also benefits from the incorporation of palliative and end-of-life care into the curriculum. “This is one of the key ways that our program has distinguished itself,” says Program Director Jenna LoGiudice, PhD. “All midwifery programs teach the core competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice, but we see it as crucial to prepare our students to manage the many psychosocial aspects of a person’s care. Specifically, we have created perinatal palliative care and stillbirth simulations in which students use therapeutic presence and social skills to be present for families with unexpected outcomes.” Speakers from Hope after Loss, a local Connecticut group for those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, have come in to speak to students, sharing concrete ways that midwives can help parents create memories of their child and to share local resources. Students also work with trained simulated patient actors, rehearsing the delivery of distressing news – after an ultrasound that detects no fetal heartbeat, for example, or outlining options for the birth and postpartum period when parents are faced with the unimaginable news that their baby is going to be stillborn. “As you can imagine, these conversations are always challenging for midwives and obstetric providers,” said Dr. LoGiudice. “We hope that students feel that they are able to provide the highest level of care to patients and families at these times, while also knowing how important their own self-care is.” She continued, “Shared decision-making is a big part of midwifery, and we take it very seriously. It’s a collaborative and E educational model of care.” l To learn more about the Kanarek Center, visit

Fairfield Celebrates Classes of 2020 and 2021 at Commencement Ceremonies


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Tara Webber ’20 and Claire Zielinski ’20 show their Stag spirit at the 2020 academic celebration; a student showcases her graduation cap; Alexis Dumais ’21 celebrates; Egan students at the academic celebration; and Minasdine Renen ’21, Muriel Staffier ’21, Beatrice Erika Relucio ’21, Grace Rankin ’21, Zaira Ramirez ’21 during the procession.

his May, Fairfield University proudly honored the achievements of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 with virtual Commencement ceremonies and a series of smaller, in-person academic celebrations held throughout this week. Under brilliant skies, family and friends gathered for celebrations on Bellarmine Lawn overlooking the Long Island Sound as President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, provosts, deans, and faculty members recognized each graduate’s success At the Class of 2021 academic celebration, Fairfield University acknowledged the achievements of 129 nursing, 16 public health, and our first-ever two social work undergraduate students from the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies. Rev. Michael Tunney, S.J., provided a prayer for both celebrations: “Let us take up all of the skills and talents that we have discovered here, lavishly, to heal and lift up our human community — to build up the common good of all in our world. Help us, O God, to be on fire...with your desire for wisdom rooted in our faiths and human reason.” At the 2020 celebration, student Commencement speaker Teresa Ann Sauer ’20 spoke to her classmates about persevering through adversity. “It is when we strive for the fulfillment of our dreams that we help others to the same end. We cannot fear to dream. The restoration of our global community depends on our drive and our strength, even in the face of uncertainty and hardship.” Following awards recognitions, President Nemec acknowledged the resilience and fortitude of the Class of 2020, especially in the face of the pandemic. “As small as we may at times feel, as large as the world and as vast as the universe might seem... we are never, ever alone. Rather, we are always blessed to be part of something grander.” Dr. Nemec urged graduates to maintain three habits: “Be curious. Be bold. Be kind.” In closing, he officially congratulated the Class of 2020 by telling them, “We have waited a year to say it, but allow me to formally announce that you are, now E and forever, Stags.” l

Photos by Mike Budny, Cassidy Kristiansen, and Andrew Henrickson EGAN UPDATE | FALL 2021 13

FACULTY NEWSBREAKERS Associate Professor and associate dean for undergraduate studies, Audrey Beauvais, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, was awarded the Connecticut League for Nurse Leadership and President’s awards for her outstanding state-wide leadership throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Professor of the practice Steve Belmont, DNP, MSN and Nancy Moriber, PhD, CRNA, APRN completed the Education in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (EPEC) training program in the fall. Associate Professor Jaclyn Conelius, PhD, FNP-BC, FHRS, CHSE, FNAP completed the AACN 2020 Digital Innovation Boot camp. Professor of the practice and assistant dean Karen Corcoran, DNP, APRN, PMHNPBC completed the Telebehavioral Health Institute Board Certification in Telehealth Level I and Level II. Associate professors Sally Gerard, DNP, RN, CDE, CNL and Alison Kris, PhD, MSN, RN were both promoted to full professor.

ABOVE: Simulation instructor Elizabeth Denby-Callahan leads a simulation with a student.

Photo by Fairfield University Media Center

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Dr. Gerard’s book, Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Review 3rd Edition, was published by Springer Publishing Company. Associate Professor Diana Mager, DNP, RN-BC won the Friend to Healthcare at Home award by the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home for her work in advancing the home care and hospice industry in Connecticut and nationwide.

Assistant Professor Nancy Moriber, PhD, CRNA, APRN was selected as a reviewer for the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). She will also serve as president-elect for the Connecticut Association of Nurse Anesthetists (CTANA). Professor Eileen O’Shea, DNP, APRN, PCNS-BC, CHPP and Associate Professor Linda Roney, EdD, RN-BC, CPEN, CNE featured their Teaching Tip as a video abstract on the Nurse Educator website. Under the leadership of professor of the practice Kim Oliver, PhD, LCSW, CSAT, the Social Work Department now has their own chapter of the Social Work Society Phi Alpha – Chi Psi Omega. Professor Eileen O’Shea, DNP, APRN, PCNS-BC, CHPP completed the one year journey through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Visiting Professor Gina Peterson, MSN, RN, CHPN, CHSE passed the Certified Health Simulation Educator examination. Assistant Professor Jennifer SchindlerRuwisch, DrPH was awarded an institutional research grant for “Breastfeeding Perspectives: Reactions to Breastfeeding Imagery and Social Norms.” Her scholarly breastfeeding work with co-author Dr. Kathryn Phillips was also featured in U.S. News & World Report. Associate professor and Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year Kathryn Phillips, PhD, ANP-BC completed the Telebehavioral

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT Health Institute’s Board Certification as a Telehealth Professional Level II. She also received The Ruth M. Olson Excellence in Nurse Education Award from the Connecticut League for Nursing. Assistant professors Tanika Eaves Simpson, PhD, MSW and Dorothy Vittner, PhD(c) MSN, BSN were both approved to take pretenure leaves during the next academic year. Assistant Professor Tanika Eaves Simpson, PhD, MSW was selected to serve on the Board of Directors for The Connecticut Association for Infant Mental Health (CT-AIMH), a nonprofit professional organization offering training in infant/early childhood development and promotion of secure attachment, and early relationships to child welfare, early intervention, Early Head Start, and home visiting programs across the state.

Kathryn Phillips, PhD, APRN ­ Alpha Sigma Nu Graduate Teacher of the Year How does it feel to be named Alpha Sigma Nu Graduate Teacher of the Year? What does this honor mean to you? I am incredibly honored to be recognized in this way, especially when this was bestowed among the amazing educators [that] I am so grateful to call colleagues at Fairfield University. This award is particularly meaningful as it comes from the students during a particularly challenging academic year. I am touched that they felt inspired by my teaching. The opportunity to work closely with students, getting to know them as individuals while helping them learn and grow as clinicians and individuals, is a wonderful gift that I am humbled to be able to do as a career. Your research focuses on areas of trauma and resilience. Can you explain?

Professor of the practice Kelly Sullivan, DNP, MSN has been named the new project coordinator for the Matter of Balance falls-prevention program.

My research has two foci: nursing education and integrative care. In the area of nursing education, I am constantly striving to find innovative ways to make learning fun and effective with a sound evidence base. As for integrative care, I’m interested in how health behaviors can be improved through bolstering individuals’ resilience and helping them process aspects that are holding them back from living their best life.

Professor Kathleen Wheeler, PhD, APRN, FAAN received the 2020 NYU Rory Myers College of Nursing Maes-McInnes Alumni Award for outstanding work in clinical innovation on behalf of professional nursing. She also published two new books with Spring Publishing Company: Psychotherapy for the Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse: A How-To Guide for Evidence-Based Practice (ed.), 3rd edition and Case Study Approach to Psychotherapy for Advanced Practice Nurses.

Where do you see your research going next? In the area of nursing education, I’m currently working on assessing how we can optimally assist new nurses as they transition to practice during the pandemic. In integrative care, I’m continuing prior work on improving restraint practices and finding ways to support the mental health of children and adolescents. What do you love most about teaching at Fairfield? Mentoring students in research and integrating simulation into the curriculum. It’s a joy to journey alongside students, supporting them as they achieve goals that seemed so far away. I also want to thank the team of colleagues that has helped me grow as an educator and continue to underpin my teaching success, including the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE), technology services, and the Egan School faculty and staff. I am E blessed to be a part of such an incredible teaching institution. l EGAN UPDATE | FALL 2021 15

WELCOME NEW FACULTY Erin Fusco, DNP, RN, OCN, FNP-BC Assistant Professor of the Practice Erin Fusco completed her DNP at Stony Brook University. She joins Egan School from a recent faculty position as an assistant professor at Quinnipiac University. Her clinical research interests focus on oncology, leveraging technology in patient care, and care access for underserved populations. She is from a family of nurses: her mother, three sisters, and two nieces. Her grandmother, who was a midwife in Ireland, is credited for safely delivering thousands of babies in her ten-year career. Fusco is married with two daughters. She loves to run, and always finishes, but is content to be in competition for the slowest runner ever! Janice Holmes ’89, MSN’96, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, CHSE Visiting Instructor Janice Holmes completed her master of science and bachelor of science in nursing degrees from Fairfield’s Egan School. As a psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist and advanced practice registered nurse, her clinical and scholarly interests include management of development disorders and acute psychiatric crises. Prior to joining Fairfield as a full-time faculty member, Ms. Holmes served as an adjunct professor for the past six years. In 2021, she was honored with the Undergraduate Adjunct of the Year award for her exceptional instruction of students in clinical and simulation areas.

Lisa Sundean, PhD, MHA, RN Assistant Professor and Director of the Master of Healthcare Administration Program

Leigh Taylor, DNP, MS, CRNA Assistant Professor of the Practice and Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Education Coordinator

Lisa Sundean completed her PhD from UConn. She is the former Statewide Director for the CT Nursing Collaborative-Action Coalition and joins Fairfield Egan most recently from her position as an assistant professor at UMass Boston. Her research interests focus on nurse leadership, specifically nurses on boards, health policy, population and public health, and nursing workforce development. She is an avid hiker, snowboarder, reader, gardener, and lover of family time.

Leigh Taylor recently joined us at Fairfield from Nashville, Tenn., where she was the assistant program director at Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia. She completed her DNP from Samford University and was recently published in the June 2020 issue of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesia Journal for a protocol for the early identification and prevention of substance use disorder among Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in the workplace.

RIGHT: The cutting-edge simulation labs

provide nursing students exposure to realistic experiences through the use of technology and professional actors. BACK COVER: Nurse anesthesia students participating in a simulation.

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Consistent with the mission of Fairfield University to develop men and women for others, the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies inspires students to become leaders in healthcare. These students are actively engaged with faculty in practice, research, scholarship, and service. As a Jesuit institution, a central focus of our care is to improve health outcomes with particular attention given to the needs of the underserved or vulnerable populations.


1073 North Benson Road Fairfield, Connecticut 06824-5195


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