Nursing professors earn high honors

Jody Serrano

The University recognized three School of Nursing professors for their induction into the American Academy of Nursing earlier this month.

The newly-inducted fellows included clinical nursing associate professors Marilyn Pattillo and Mary Lou Adams and nursing associate professor Deborah Volker. The induction of these professors brought UT presence in the Academy to 18 professors, said UT spokesman Tim Green.

There are many nurses who distinguish themselves, but to be distinguished by one’s peers is indeed an honor, Pattillo said. Pattillo, a UT alumnus, served for more than 20 years in the Air Force Nurse Corps and is a member of UT’s Emergency Preparedness effort. She developed two disaster preparedness courses for students that have been integrated into the nursing curriculum.

She said she hopes to further global health policy and advocate for disaster preparedness competency for nurses.
“Nursing these days requires visibility, resourcefulness and confidence,” Pattillo said. “Nurses are leaders in advocating for safety of patients and promoting quality of life.”

The academy consists of 1,600 members and works to research and promote global policy advances in health care via specialized committees in the organization, according to its website. Each member can nominate one person to apply to become a fellow.

“Selection for membership in the academy is one of the most prestigious honors in the field of nursing,” said AAN president Catherine L. Gilliss, “Academy Fellows are truly experts. The academy fellowship represents the nation’s top nurse researchers, policy-makers, scholars, executives, educators and practitioners.”

Adams, who also graduated from UT, said colleagues at the School of Nursing encouraged her to apply for a fellowship. Adams previously worked with the Texas Cancer Council to help increase the number of African-American women screened for breast cancer. She said the project encouraged more than 8,000 African-American women to get screened in a five-year period.

Adams said the support she’s received from the School of Nursing and the students has been fantastic. She said she encourages students to find their passion in nursing and work towards making a contribution to their profession.

“I hope to work with the health disparities [committee] to see if I can lend some insight and do work to reduce the disparities we see in health care,” Adams said.

Nursing senior Ashley Reinecke currently has Pattillo as a professor and was enrolled in one of Volker’s classes in spring 2010. Reinecke said she remembers Volker always made herself available after class and in office hours and even wrote her a letter of recommendation to get into nursing school.

Reinecke said Volker, who specializes in the ethics of decisions involving near-death individuals, taught her how to be sensitive communicating with a patient who’s about to die and to make their quality of life as good as possible.

“I’m proud to have them as my teachers,” Reinecke said. “It inspires me to be a good nurse and hopefully be in the academy in the future.”