Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences Annual Report 2022-2023

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OUR MISSION: To prepare diverse healthcare professionals who are providers and forward-thinking leaders in the delivery of high-quality, accessible, culturally competent and compassionate care within a highly technological and global environment. To teach, conduct research and practice in service to the community through interprofessional collaboration. To create, promote, expand and validate scientific knowledge and evidence based practice through interdisciplinary research.

OUR VISION: To be globally recognized as a higher education destination organization that is innovative , inquiry-driven and technologically advanced. To draw diverse top-class faculty, students, staff and others for unstoppable transformation of society with a focus on the healthcare needs of underserved populations.

Leadership & Research

Dr. Jorge A. Valdés, Interim Dean

Dr. Howard Holness, Interim Associate Dean of Administration

Dr. Lynne Richard, Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Dr. Edgar Vieira, Interim Associate Dean of Research

Message from the Dean......................3

About FIU............................................4

About the College...............................5

Addressing the Demand...................6-7


Distinguished Faculty....................12-13

Nursing Anesthesiology:

Dr. Jorge A. Valdés

Dr. Ann Miller

Communication Sciences & Disorders:

Dr. Angela Medina

Graduate Nursing:

Dr. Charlie Buscemi

Research Spotlight......................14-16

Undergraduate Nursing:

Dr. Trudy Gaillard

Occupational Therapy:

Dr. Amy Paul-Ward

Dr. Tana Carson

Physical Therapy:

Dr. Amanda Thomas

Communication Science & Disorders:

Dr. Chelsea Sommer

Community Impact......................17-18

Undergraduate Nursing:

Dr. Ivette Hidalgo

Dr. Audrey Miller

Health Services Administration:

Dr. Chandra Young Whiting

Athletic Training:

Dr. Michelle Odai

Points of Pride............................19-21

1 Annual Report 2022-2023

This year has been one of remarkable achievements and inspiring growth at Florida International University.

Together with our faculty, staff and students we applaud FIU’s forward-thinking, innovative, and unstoppable growth as one of the nation’s top universities and celebrate the 50th anniversary of our nursing program, commemorating five decades of nursing excellence.

Over the years, our Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences has undergone unparalleled growth. I am proud of how far our college has come and its sustained commitment to our community by advancing healthcare education and practice, with a strong focus on cultural humility, inclusion and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations. Today several of our programs rank within the Top 50 programs among public universities, including our Doctor of Nursing Practice ranked No. 27, our Master’s in Nursing Program ranked No. 34 and our Occupational Therapy Program ranked No. 43 by U.S. News & World Report

Our commitment to delivering high quality education and prioritizing student success remains unwavering. In 2023, we awarded more than $2.64 million in student scholarships. This is important as over 70% of our students are first generation college students. Our dedication to shaping the future of healthcare has built compassionate and diverse leaders in health advocacy and patient care that are advancing knowledge and addressing critical challenges facing our society. Their stories of triumph and perseverance drive us forward.

Every day, we are pushing the boundaries of healthcare innovation, striving for breakthroughs that can change lives. In the spirit of innovation, we partnered with the State of Florida and South Florida Hospitals to expand our undergraduate nursing program to enroll the highest number of BSN students by implementing a secondary admissions cycle. We have seen remarkable discoveries and contributions to our fields of study, including innovations in aging research, dementia care and global health disparities. Our faculty have continued to make significant impacts locally and globally with numerous distinguished fellowships, national awards and more than $13 million in research funding since 2017.

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our entire community. As we look to the future, we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Thank you for your unwavering support and commitment. Here’s to another year of excellence, growth and success.

Jorge A. Valdés, DNP, CRNA, APRN, FAANA

Interim Dean & Fellow

Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Dean’s Message
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No. 64 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s public university rankings

TOP 10

Economic ROI in a College Degree (Source: Degree Choices 2023)


TOP 20

National University (Source: Washington Monthly 2023) No. 1

Performance-funding Metrics (Source: Florida Board of Governors 2023)

FIU has been designated a University of Distinction in environmental resilience by the Florida Board of Governors



Carnegie Classification

Very High Research Activity

Only the top 3% in research production among the nation’s 4,300 colleges and universities

(Source: Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education)

TOP 15

Most Innovative Public Universities

(Source: U.S. News & World Report)

TOP 10 Research Expenditure

Growth from 2012-2022

Carnegie R1 Public Universities

(Source: Chronicle of Higher Education analysis of National Science Foundation data)


Empowering Student Success

At the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, our students learn from renowned faculty experts in chronic illness management, health disparities and rehabilitation sciences. Our college celebrates 50 years of nursing excellence in South Florida with a foundation built on innovation, excellence and a commitment to compassionate care. Our diverse student body plays a vital role in building the Florida nursing and healthcare workforce pipeline and addressing the health needs of their communities. Our faculty and alumni are leaders, innovators and caregivers, constantly meeting the ever-changing demands of their dynamic fields. They are the heart and soul of healthcare across the region, state of Florida and the globe.

Athletic Training

Communication Sciences & Disorders

Health Services Administration


Graduate Nursing

Nurse Anesthesiology

Undergraduate Nursing


Occupational Therapy

Physical Therapy



IN FALL 2023:
Hispanic 60% Other 5% Asian 5% White 11% Black 19% Male 22% Out of State 7% Female 78% In State 93% #43 Occupational Therapy Program SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED $2,645,656 DEGREES AWARDED 396 Bachelors; 309 Master’s; 161 Doctoral TOP 50 U.S. News & World Report Public Rankings #29 Doctor of Nursing Practice Program #41 Master’s in Nursing Program ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES 5 Annual Report 2022-2023


FIU Partners with South Florida Hospitals to Address Nursing Shortage

The healthcare shortage in Florida has had a significant impact on the community and healthcare in general. The demand for registered nurses in Florida is only expected to increase to 60,000 as the state’s population is forecasted to grow significantly to 25 million residents by 2030. In South Florida, this issue is compounded by the health inequities diverse populations often face. At FIU, we are addressing these challenges using a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to community health that brings our state legislature, community hospitals and institutions of higher education together to increase the pipeline of nurses from the classroom to the workforce.

To combat the growing nursing shortage, the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences has secured five Successful Linking Industry to Nursing Education (LINE) partnerships for a total of $2.6 million in state matching funds. Through this funding, our college has established partnerships with Baptist Health of South Florida, Memorial Health System, Jackson Health System, HCA Healthcare and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Funds have expanded nursing student learning by increasing

student scholarship, new faculty hires, student job placement, and expansion of our simulation centers across two FIU campuses.

“I am most proud of our college’s commitment in addressing the nursing shortage head on. Thanks to the support of the State of Florida and our South Florida clinical partners, here at FIU, we are investing in the future,” said Interim Dean Valdés. “This partnership has expanded our undergraduate nursing program to enroll the highest number of BSN students by implementing a secondary admissions cycle.”

Philanthropic gift from Memorial Healthcare System will support in naming a pediatric nursing professorship focused at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Additionally, since 2022, the college has received $4.8 million in recurring funds from the Nursing PIPELINE Program, a state-funded initiative aimed at tackling the shortage. These funds have allowed the college to double our undergraduate nursing admissions with two cycles to


admit more high achieving nursing students and graduate more registered nurses in the State of Florida. This year, the college has admitted the largest number of Bachelor of Nursing students ever at FIU, increasing our enrollment by more than 30%. Nursing students such as Vanessa Berrios, have greatly benefited from these partnerships.

“My academic career has been positively impacted by this scholar’s program,” says Berrios. “I have the opportunity to learn within Baptist Health South Florida’s hospitals in every rotation. This has allowed me to familiarize myself with the hospitals, staff, hospital policies and the standard of excellence the health system expects from you.”

To date, 100% of our nursing students who have received LINE funding scholarships have become licensed registered nurses working in our partnering South Florida hospitals.

Baptist Scholar Shares Impact

What has been the impact of being an FIU Baptist Scholar?

The impact of being an FIU Baptist Scholar is a mixture of three things: honor, gratitude and opportunity. It is an honor that Baptist Health South Florida saw in me the same values their organization stands for, which are integrity and transparency, compassion, belief, people and excellence. Being a Baptist employee myself, I would hear the nurses talk about how special the scholar’s program is. It is truly an honor to be part of this scholarship program while studying nursing in my dream school! I am grateful for the partnership FIU and Baptist have created and supported because as a soon-to-be three-time Panther graduate, I feel both my educational home and my professional home are combined in one. The opportunity to learn at FIU and be mentored by nurses, professors and colleagues both at the university and in the hospital motivates me to improve while additionally reassures me to never give up on my dreams.

What are you most looking forward to as you graduate and begin your nursing career?

I am looking forward to being in a career that encourages curiosity, education and compassion. I look forward to the patients I will take care of and the families I will meet.

What would your academic journey be without the Baptist Health Nurse Scholars Program?

Without the Baptist Health Nurse Scholars Program, my educational journey would have been very different. I would have needed to work more hours in order to pay for classes, and I would be searching for a job as a new graduate nurse with no job security. This program has provided me with an opportunity to study more since the scholarship helps financially. I can dedicate more time to my academics in our rigorous accelerated program, and I have a contract to work with Baptist Health for some years after graduation!

Vanessa Berrios, BSN, RN
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Left to right: Dr. Howard Holness, Interim Associate Dean of Administration, NWCNHS; Henry Henao, Director and Clinical Assistant Professor, Diane Ramy Faulconer STAR Center; Dr. Jorge Valdés, Interim Dean NWCNHS; Diane Ramy Faulconer ‘74, MSM ‘74; Dr. Lynne Richard, Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, NWCNHS; and Mark Fonseca Assistant Director of and Assistant Professor, Diane Ramy Faulconer STAR Center

Top Alumna Donor Advances Simulation Education in Nursing and Health Sciences

Diane Ramy Faulconer ‘74, MSM 74 entered FIU as a health sciences student in 1972. By 1974, she earned a bachelor’s in health sciences and a master’s in management from FIU. Almost 50 years later, after a successful nursing management and consulting career, Faulconer has become FIU’s top alumni donor. Her most recent gift to the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences names the Diane Ramy Faulconer Simulation Teaching and Research (STAR) Centers at MMC and BBC campuses and establishes two endowments. Her investments will increase the use of simulation in teaching and create the Simulation Education and Learning Endowment and the Diane Ramy Falconer Distinguished Lecture Series in Simulation Education, drawing audiences nationally across nursing and health professions.

The Simulation Education and Learning Endowment will provide funds for strategies which enhance the college’s STAR Centers at MMC and BBC campuses and position the college as a leader in healthcare simulation teaching, learning and research. Funds will be used to elevate healthcare delivery through the enhancement and expansion of student and/or faculty simulation training, including student simulation tracking methods, computer software and digital platforms to enhance simulation education or the integration of artificial intelligence approaches to facilitate simulation learning outcomes. The STAR Center Distinguished Lecture Series in Simulation Education Endowment will support an annual guest lecture series with prominent specialists in simulation development and teaching. It will provide for seminars and special consultations that enhance simulation within the college’s faculty and the broader clinical practice community. Additional gifts support scholarship endowments for graduate students in nursing, health sciences and business.

Today, her giving has funded more than 150 scholars. In 2018, Diane made a gift to endow and name the Collaborative Advanced Rehabilitation/Research & Education (CARE) Center. Her investment equipped a simulated home environment and human performance lab at the CARE Center, which she periodically visits to see students in action. Faulconer is among FIU’s most engaged philanthropists. She meets with her scholars, is a founding member of the the Dean’s Leadership Council at the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences (NWCHS) and watches her philanthropy at work.

ADVANCEMENT 9 Annual Report 2022-2023



Jorge M. Pérez and Darlene Boytell-Pérez ‘89, ‘96 Establish

50th Anniversary Scholarship Endowment

A generous gift from Jorge M. Pérez and Darlene Marie Boytell-Pérez ‘89, MS ‘96 establishes a new endowment at our Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences. The Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez 50th Anniversary Scholarship Endowment will address the shortage of nursing professionals throughout Florida by establishing a permanent source of funding to help undergraduate and graduate nursing students pay for tuition and related educational expenses.

“Students from FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences represent the next generation of nurses, set to sustain our healthcare system for years to come. It’s an incredible honor for us to support their journeys through this endowment,” says Boytell-Pérez, a two-time FIU nursing alumna. “A thriving healthcare system holds immense importance in fostering a stronger, more resilient South Florida. My family and I look forward to the positive impacts these individuals will create as they progress at FIU and become integral parts of our community.”

According to a report commissioned by the Florida Hospital Association and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, the state will face a shortage of nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035. Much of the nursing deficit stems from the difficulty many potential nurses face in paying tuition. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor projects 203,200 openings for RNs each year through 2031.

“This important gift from Jorge Pérez and Darlene Boytell-Pérez comes at a time of major enrollment growth of the nursing program for the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences,” said Interim Dean Jorge Valdés. “We are very grateful for their generous gift and longstanding support of our college, as it will directly impact the lives of our students and increase the nursing workforce for our community. Jorge and Darlene truly embody FIU’s forward thinking, innovative and unstoppable spirit.”

The endowment will provide scholarships of up to four years for full-time nursing students who demonstrate outstanding scholastic aptitude and accomplishments and financial need, especially those expressing a desire to stay in the South Florida community after graduation. Jorge and Darlene Pérez want to encourage nursing and healthcare supporters to contribute to the endowment in order to increase the impact on the next fifty years of FIU nursing students. The support of Jorge M. Pérez, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the Related Group, and his wife, Darlene Boytell-Pérez, has been integral to FIU’s growth in multiple areas. FIU established the Darlene & Jorge Pérez Collection-100 Years of Cuban Art after a donation of Cuban art from the Pérezes to the university’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum and the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. Notably, their support led to the establishment of the university’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, an app lied research institute that provides policy solutions to public, private and non-profit organizations in South Florida. They have also established the Jorge and Darlene Pérez Scholars Endowment in the university’s Honors College.

The new Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez 50th Anniversary Scholarship Endowment represents the Pérez family’s 15th gift to NWCNHS. In 2008, FIU unveiled the Jorge M. Pérez and Darlene Boytell-Pérez Basic Skills Lab in the STAR Center, providing simulation education and experiences to NWCNHS students.

The Pérezes’ gift has kick-started at the colleges’ 50th Anniversary Jubilee Celebration held on May 4, 2024.

Scan code to donate to endowment 11 Annual Report 2022-2023

Faculty Recognized by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists


Dr. Jorge A. Valdés is one of two FIU Nursing faculty inducted as a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (FAANA). He is a distinguished leader and author, with a prolific career as a clinical nurse anesthetist spanning over 20 years. His work has translated into transformational leadership in health equity, education and legislative action. He has advocated tirelessly for nurse anesthetist independent practice and has appeared before the Florida State House of Representatives as an expert clinician in healthcare issues. As an educator, he has advocated for diversity and inclusion in higher education and nursing, with more than 13 years of experience serving in numerous leadership roles at various academic institutions across South Florida. In 2023, he was named Nurse Educator of the Year by the National Association of Hispanic Nurses for his exemplary leadership shaping the education and scholarship of future nursing health professionals.

Dr. Ann Miller has been inducted as a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (FAANA). She joins Interim Dean Valdés in this exemplary recognition and celebrates this highest honor bestowed upon a nurse anesthetist. As a leader in nurse anesthesia, she has engaged in advanced education, research and advocacy initiatives, enhancing her impact on patient care and the profession. She is a reviewer for the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nurse anesthesia programs. For more than two decades, she has served on national, regional and university-wide committees centered on student success, advocacy and commitment to excellence in nurse anesthesia practice. As an educator and a recipient of the FIU Top Scholar Award for Dedicated Mentoring, her passion has contributed to innovative, impactful and enduring achievements in teaching and scholarship.


Honoring Our Distinguished Faculty

Angela Medina, PhD, CCC-SLP Tenured Associate Professor

Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders

Dr. Angela Medina was named Clinician of the Year by the Florida Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (FLASHA). This honorable designation recognizes her exceptional contributions to the field of speech-language pathology and her unwavering commitment to excellence in clinical practice. Her impact extends beyond clinical practice, where she has served as a mentor and inspiration to fellow clinicians, students and aspiring professionals. As a researcher, she has consistently demonstrated the highest standards of integrity, compassion and dedication to the field of speech-language pathology. Presently, she serves as Principal Investigator on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH)-funded R21 project, “Ecological Assessment of Cognitive Control in Individuals with Social Anxiety.”

Charlie Buscemi, PhD, APRN, WOCNF Clinical Professor

Department of Graduate Nursing

Dr. Charlie Buscemi was inducted into the inaugural class of Fellows of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society. This prestigious designation recognizes and honors exceptional nurses who have demonstrated outstanding dedication, expertise and leadership in the specialized fields of wound, ostomy and continence care. As a researcher and a clinician, he has made significant contributions within the WOCN society and nursing profession. He holds dual board certifications as a family nurse practitioner and a wound care nurse, reflecting his commitment to comprehensive specialized expert research, clinical scholarship and patient care in wound management. Currently, he is a clinical consultant for a $2.1 million National Institute of Health (NIH) R01 grant in collaboration with FIU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. Lastly, he and his husband, Joe, sponsor an annual scholarship for an FIU undergraduate nursing student who self identifies as LGBTQ.

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Trudy Gaillard, PhD, RN, CDCES, FAHA, FAAN

Dr. Vanessa Wertheim Endowed Chair in Chronic Disease Prevention and Care

Lack of diversity in clinical trials has cascading societal implications. It’s a problem that poses serious questions about whether new treatments or lifesaving therapies are safe, effective and benefit everyone, especially populations disproportionately impacted by chronic diseases. Today, diverse older adults remain one of the most underrepresented groups in aging research. FIU nurse scientist Dr. Trudy Gaillard is on a mission to flip this script by changing the demographic of research participation. She leads a National Institute on Aging-funded study with a collaborative team from FIU, the University of Florida and University of Central Florida to answer an important question: Exactly how do you ensure diverse older adults become research participants? The team held listening sessions with 361 diverse older adults and their family members to find out. Participants shared valuable insights and voiced a variety of concerns, including the fact they were rarely approached about opportunities to participate in research. Even if they wanted to help advance knowledge about diseases that were likely to impact their children and grandchildren, they didn’t know where to begin. To remove this barrier, Dr. Gaillard and the team are creating an online statewide registry where older adults who are willing to participate in aging research can find available clinical trials.

As a result of her transformational research, Dr. Gaillard has been inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nurses, which is the highest honor bestowed upon a nursing leader and researcher.


Fulbright sends FIU Faculty to Trinidad & Tobago

Amy Paul Ward, PhD

Tenured Associate Professor

Department of Occupational Therapy

Dr. Amy Paul Ward traveled to Trinidad and Tobago as part of the Fulbright Western Hemisphere Scholars Program for her research project, “Understanding the Disability Experience and the Role of Occupational Therapy in Trinidad and Tobago.” This award allowed her to conduct research on disability access and inclusion across the Trinidadian lifespan. As part of this project, she worked collaboratively with stakeholders in Trinidad and Tobago to advocate for greater inclusion for persons with disabilities in all aspects of community life. While on the Fulbright, she also worked with master’s students in the occupational therapy program at the University of the Southern Caribbean as they prepared to conduct research on various rehabilitation topics. As a Fulbright Scholar, she joins a network of accomplished alumni serving as leaders and educators across the globe.

Swim Safety for Everyone

Tana Carson, PhD, MOT, WSIT

Assistant Professor

Department of Occupational Therapy

For many children, summer is not complete without trips to the pool, water park, lake or beach. Yet, children with autism are often left out of the fun. Dr. Tana Carson, Assistant Professor in FIU’s Occupational Therapy Department, is working to change that. She is co-developing a graduate level course teaching rehab pre-professionals how to teach adapted swim instruction. Last summer, she partnered with Florida Keys Adapted Swim Camp and ran a pilot test of the swim program. In Fall 2023, she officially started the program in collaboration with the YMCA of South Florida’s “Swim Buddies” program. In her research, she focused on examining decreased sound tolerance in autism and developing screening tools for health professionals for swim safety. Because children with autism have twice the risk of drowning, she is determined to provide appropriate training so children with autism and other disabilities can be safe in the water.

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT 15 Annual Report 2022-2023

A Hands-on Approach to Rehabilitation Therapy

Amanda Thomas, DPT Clinical Assistant Professor

Department of Physical Therapy

Dr. Amanda Thomas is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of Education in the Department of Physical Therapy. Her work represents a significant advancement in the field of rehabilitation therapy, particularly in the use of 3D printing technology for medical purposes. Her work focuses on creating and improving accessible and customizable medical devices, including 3D printed hands, orthotics and adaptive devices. These projects not only demonstrate the innovative application of 3D printing in healthcare but also address a critical need for personalized, cost-effective solutions for patients with physical disabilities. Her research on congenital limb differences in infants, particularly her project “A Rehabilitation Protocol for the Use of a 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand in Pediatrics,” showcases her commitment to enhancing the quality of life for pediatric patients. Her groundbreaking findings in this area contribute valuable knowledge to the field of physical therapy science, offering innovative solutions that could lead to more effective and personalized rehabilitation approaches.

FIU Researcher Paves the Way in Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Care

Chelsea L. Sommer, PhD, CCC-SLP Assistant Professor

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

As a bilingual speech-language pathologist, Dr. Chelsea Sommer works on the cleft palate and craniofacial team at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, specializing in speech development with a focus on English-Spanish bilinguals, global health and speech outcomes in children with cleft palate. As a dedicated researcher, she has created international relationships and currently has collaborators in England, Ghana, Peru and Trinidad & Tobago. Her most recent undertaking involves studying the psychometric properties of the Intelligibility in Context Scale (ICS) for Spanish speakers in Peru and bilingual English-Spanish speakers in the United States. Additionally, she is a co-investigator with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to examine the validity of artificial intelligence in assessing hypernasality in patients with velopharyngeal dysfunction. She hopes that her work leads to equitable assessment and treatment of multilingual children both with and without cleft palate worldwide.



Ivette Hidalgo, PhD, MSN Ed, APRN, BSN ’95, PPCPN-BC Clinical Assistant Professor and Lead Faculty for Pediatrics Department of Undergraduate Nursing

Dr. Ivette Hidalgo exemplifies the profound impact healthcare professionals can have beyond traditional clinical settings. She is the former camp clinical coordinator and current camp medical volunteer at the Dr. Moises Simpser Ventilator Assisted Children’s Camp, a free week-long overnight camp hosted by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for ventilation-assisted children and their families. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, she has worked with medically complex children where she collaborates to create learning opportunities for student nurses—volunteering her time and coordinating student nurses’ time at camp to help children with chronic illnesses, dependent on oxygen and in need of ventilators to survive.

Her initiative to integrate learning opportunities for student nurses into the camp experience is particularly noteworthy. By coordinating and volunteering their time, student nurses gain invaluable hands-on experience with a patient population that requires specialized care and understanding. By working directly with children who have chronic illnesses, students gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and needs of this population. This immersive learning environment goes beyond theoretical knowledge, allowing students to develop crucial skills in empathy, communication and patient care that are essential for their future roles as healthcare providers. It provides an opportunity for students to interact with and understand the experiences of children facing significant health challenges. This firsthand experience can enhance students’ ability to connect with patients, demonstrate empathy in their future healthcare careers and provide compassionate care. Through her efforts, the camp offers a unique, life-enriching experience for ventilation-assisted children and their families, providing a safe space for fun, growth and community building

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Dr. Ivette Hidalgo with Maylan Chavez, VACC Camp Member


Investing in the Future

Audrey Miller PhD, MSN Ed, APRN, BSN ‘95, PPCNP-BC, CPN, CNE, LNC

Chanadra Young Whiting EdD, MPH/HSA, CHES

Dr. Audrey Miller is the co-founder and Program Director of the High School Summer Nursing & Health Sciences Academy in collaboration with Jonathan Dotson, Vice President of the 100 Black Men of South Florida, Inc. She leads a team that includes FIU Health Services Administration faculty member Dr. Chanadra Young Whiting and other leaders from the 100 Black Men of South Florida. Since 2015, this program has exposed underserved young black men of South Florida to healthcare professions and equips them with knowledge to make informed educational choices and become aware of available career opportunities in their communities. Participants attend a two-day, eight-hour summer academy hosted by the college’s faculty and staff in the Diane Ramy Faulconer Simulation, Teaching, And Research (STAR) and Collaborative Advanced Rehabilitation/ Research & Education (CARE) Center. Students learn about nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, communication sciences and disorders, athletic training, and health services administration professions and are actively engaged in hands-on training.

FIU Athletic Training on the Rise

Michelle Odai, PhD, LAT, ATC Chair and Clinical Associate Professor

Director of the Master of Science in Athletic Training Program Department of Athletic Training

For many athletic trainers, the option to take their education to the next level has been limited. Through her leadership, Dr. Michelle Odai has made it her mission to address the limitations that many athletic trainers face when seeking to advance their education. Under her leadership as Chair of the college’s Athletic Training Department, the program has flourished, providing students with unparalleled opportunities for growth and development in this dynamic field. Her leadership extends beyond the classroom.

As Chair of the National Athletic Training Association (NATA) Professional Education Committee, she is at the forefront of shaping the future of athletic training education nationwide. Her tireless advocacy and innovative initiatives are instrumental in ensuring athletic trainers have access to the highest quality education and training opportunities. By spearheading initiatives to expand educational opportunities and remove barriers to professional development, she is paving the way for a new generation of highly skilled and knowledgeable athletic trainers. 18
Left to right: Dr. Audrey Miller and Dr. Chanadra Young Whiting

Pushing the Boundaries of Health Innovation

Cory Salcedo, MSN, RN, CNE Nursing PhD Student

Nicole Wertheim Scholar

As a Nicole Wertheim Research Scholar and an active member of Sigma Theta Tau, Cory Salcedo exemplifies the epitome of dedication and excellence in the field of nursing education and research. A doctoral student, his research focuses on the stigmatic and cultural influence impacting PrEP uptake among Latin Men who have Sex with Men (LMSM), in collaboration with his committee chair, Dr. Eric Fenkl. His involvement in prior research presentations through esteemed organizations like the National League of Nursing (NLN), Florida Nurses Association (FNA) and Association of Nurses in Aids Care (ANAC) emphasizes the critical need for LGBTQIA integration into nursing academia. In addition to these accomplishments, he is currently authoring a chapter in Springer Publishing Handbook for Culturally Competent Care (2nd Ed.) which will highlight gaps in the current healthcare provision but also underscore the importance of culturally sensitive healthcare practices that can lead to improved health outcomes for marginalized communities. He currently serves as a member of the BSN nursing faculty at Herzing University in Orlando, FL.. Following completion of his program, he plans to attain a teaching position in graduate nursing at FIU and continue his research studies.

Gabriel Ortiz, DPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy Graduate

Real Triumphs Graduate Summer 2023

Gabriel Ortiz attended college in Boston with the intent of becoming a veterinarian. Instead, his work with a mouse – a computer mouse device, to be precise – ended up defining his career path as a physical therapist committed to changing lives. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology, he was drawn to FIU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program through the kindness of FIU staff and students and the extraordinary campus environment. While working on his DPT project alongside professor Dr. Amanda Thomas, he met a young child with a below-theelbow (BTE) limb difference who was a gamer at heart. Having an avid appreciation for gaming himself and knowing 1.77 million people worldwide have a belowelbow amputation, he was inspired to make a difference. With help from freelance engineers, accessibility experts, architects and project managers, encouragement from his professors and access to a 3D printing machine, he dedicated his weekends to develop the BTE Mouse. It is a hybrid mouse/gaming joystick for use by people with BTE limb differences and other musculoskeletal conditions to practice control and hand coordination. He has presented the BTE Mouse to other nonprofits and physical therapy groups and is using his creativity to keep designing more 3D products. After graduation, he hopes to make a larger impact through product development and management.

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FIU Students Receive State and National Appointments


Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesiology Student

Lindsey Bell is an exemplary student leader supporting the academic development of student nurse anesthetists and contributing to strengthening the nurse anesthesia profession as a whole. As a student in FIU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Anesthesiology program, she has held several leadership positions and tirelessly advocated for her profession at regional, state and national platforms, including for the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists (FANA) and the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA). Her advocacy for patients and nurse anesthesia practice serves as a resource for future nurse anesthesia students, the nursing and medical professions, hospitals and healthcare facilities. In her most recent role, she serves as President of the Florida Association of Resident Registered Nurse Anesthetists (FARRNA), a position in which she was elected by her peers. Under her leadership as FARRNA representative, she spearheaded the inaugural Nurse Anesthesiology Recruiter Day, a first in the program’s 18-year history. Through this initiative, she collaborated with classmates and community partners to invite more than 20 anesthesia employers to FIU, securing job placement opportunities for over 100 nurse anesthesiology students and funding to support professional development opportunities.

Rhobie Toussaint

Bachelor of Health Services Administration Student

Hamilton Scholar

Rhobie Toussaint, an undergraduate Health Services Administration student, was selected as a 2023 Hamilton Scholar, joining the premier student leadership program offered by The Talent Lab at FIU in Washington, D.C. As a Hamilton Scholar, she was selected to intern with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, giving her an immersive, hands-on experience in real-world policy advocacy in the nation’s capital. Much of her passion lies in health equity and civic engagement. Through her roles as a community health worker and a regional organizer of a civic nonprofit, she has learned how to understand the needs of her community and empower other young people to be the change they wish to see. An accomplished student, she has chosen to minor in English and is pursuing certificates in Haitian Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She hopes to continue uplifting others while working on making a positive impact within the healthcare system.


FIU Athletic Trainers Save Life via CPR

On August 18, 2023, a student-athlete from American Heritage School collapsed on the sideline of a preseason football game against Booker T. Washington High School. The team’s athletic training staff jumped into action quickly, leading to the best possible outcome. FIU athletic training graduates were at the forefront of the quick and decisive actions. American Heritage School Head Athletic Trainer Frank Millan, MSAT ’08 and Assistant Athletic Trainer Nicholle-Christine Galletti, MSAT ’20 performed life-saving CPR on the student athlete by initiating use of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) without hesitation. They were assisted by other healthcare providers, including Sharnice Byrd, MSAT ‘19, Head Athletic Trainer for the opposing team. Their actions were crucial in the critical moments following the athlete’s collapse, showcasing the impact of their training and experience. This incident not only reflects the individual competence of the athletic trainers involved but also on the broader athletic and healthcare communities’ commitment to safety and preparedness and highlights the sense of community and mutual support that exists among healthcare providers in athletic settings. Such events serve as powerful reminders of the importance of having well trained, responsive athletic training professionals at all levels of sport. Their ability to act swiftly and effectively in emergency situations can truly make the difference in outcomes for athletes facing medical crises. The successful intervention in this case is a testament to the value of education, training and the critical role athletic trainers play in sports health and


“For me, the most important thing was that we were there on the sideline and ready. We trusted our training and we were able to quickly assess the situation. Millan and I have practiced emergency scenarios with our fellow colleagues which prepared us to act quickly and confidently in such a unique situation,” said Galletti.
21 Annual Report 2022-2023

Sherief Abu-Moustafa, BSN, RN, CAO, ICDAC Chief Executive Officer and Founder Florida House Experience

Kathy Blais, EdD, ’74, MS ‘75 Professor Emeritus FIU Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Darlene Marie Boytell-Pérez, ’89, ’96 APRN Gastro Health

Diane Ramy Faulconer, ’74, MSM ’74 Registered Nurse (retired), Philanthropist


Edward C. Garabedian, PT, ’90 Vice President, Doctor’s Hospital COO, Baptists Health Orthopedic Care

Monica Puga, RN, BSN Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive Memorial Healthcare System

Colonel Brodes Hartley Consultant Community Health of South Florida, Inc.

Harpreet Smith, RN, MSN, CCRC , ‘94 Senior Director of Operations Quotient Sciences Dr. Herbert A. Wertheim, OD, DSc President, Founder and CEO

Brain Power Inc. Founding Chairman & Trustee Emeritus FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

Nicole Wertheim Honorary Chair

Vanessa Von Wertheim, PhD, MBA, PHN, CCRN

Diane Ramy Faulconer, ’74 MSM ‘74

Jorge M. Pérez and Darlene Marie Boytell-Pérez ’89, MS ’96

Dr. Herbert A. Wertheim and Nicole Wertheim

Baptist Health South Florida Memorial Healthcare System

HCA East South Florida Division

Jackson Health System

Nicklaus Childrens Hospital Peacock Foundation

Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation

Florman Family Foundation

Doris Lucetta Jessell Memorial Nursing Scholarships

Dr. Audrey Miller and Nurista Shirley Vernon RN Memorial Scholarship

Miami Heart Research Institute

Analise Dlugasch Memorial Endowment

Charlie Buscemi and Jose Martinez

The Gertrude E. Skelly Charitable Foundation

Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Modesto A. Maidique Campus 11200 S.W. 8 Street, AHC 3, Rm. 529, Miami, FL 33199

305-348-7703 |

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