PhD Student Inducted into the American Academy of Nursing

Sharon Ann Van Wicklin, MS(N), RN, CNOR, CRNFA(E), CPSN-R, PLNC, was inducted as a fellow into the prestigious American Academy of Nursing at the American Academy of Nursing fall meeting October 5-7 in Washington, D.C. Sharon is currently pursuing a PhD in Nursing from the Sinclair School of Nursing and is mentored by Vicki Conn, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Nursing. While several PhD graduates have gone on to be fellows, Sharon is the first active student to be inducted as a fellow. 

Sharon is a senior perioperative practice specialist for the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. She has more than 40 years of experience as a perioperative registered nurse and has worked in all facets of the perioperative environment from scrub person to director. In her current position, Sharon provides consultative services and authors numerous publications. She has written seven nationally-recognized guidelines for perioperative practice. The guidelines provide a foundation for increasing nurses’ ability to inform health policy at the local, state and national level while transforming the United States health care system to make it more outcome-driven and cost-effective. The guidelines directly influence the delivery of patient care, the practice environment and perioperative nursing practice. Sharon also serves as a perioperative representative on various national panels and committees that direct health policy and affect patient outcomes. Additionally, Sharon is a member of the School of Nursing faculty of Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Phoenix.

Sharon received her BSN and MS(N) from Middle Tennessee State University. She is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing and Phi Kappa Phi. She holds certification in operating room nursing, as a registered nurse first assistant emeritus, as a retired plastic and reconstructive surgical nurse, and as a professional legal nurse consultant. Sharon was recognized as a recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in the Application of Perioperative Clinical Research Award in 2005.

A Life Changed

April 15, 2012. That was the day that changed the course of Christopher Wilson’s life forever.

As part of the Army National Guard, Chris, BSN ’17, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. While there, as a member of Missouri Agribusiness Development Team 6, he was the security forces team leader and felt a great deal of responsibility for his soldiers. His responsibilities included the training of security forces and developing missions, organizing teams and detailing routes in order to keep his soldiers safe.

On that fateful day, Chris’ base was attacked by insurgents. Initially, a car bomb went off behind the troops’ sleeping quarters. Insurgents then used the chaos to their advantage and came into the camp. A 30-minute firefight ensued, and while Chris was physically unharmed, in all, 17 purple hearts were awarded from this incident.

After the dust had settled, Chris visited his wounded soldiers at the Army hospital at Jalalabad Airfield. Everywhere he looked, he saw nurses providing the top level of care to his wounded comrades.

“I didn’t see a doctor. It was all nurses,” Chris says. “After I had a chance to process everything that had happened, that was the moment that led me to want to be a nurse. I wanted to be able to provide the care my soldiers received.”

Later that year, Chris returned to the United States and began to think about what his career might hold next. He already held a bachelor’s of science in exercise science/physiology from Truman State University, but wanted to become a nurse.

He needed to take a few prerequisites and then applied to the Sinclair School of Nursing’s accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing. In 2016, Chris was accepted into the highly competitive program. 

Throughout the rigorous, 15-month program, he had to work to both develop the nursing knowledge and skills he would need to practice as a bachelor’s-prepared nurse after graduation and keep up with his military duties.

“I finished that first summer semester of the program, took my ‘Skills’ final and that immediately led to my wedding day,” Chris says. “I got married and then left for a week from some military training and then came back and started the next semester. That’s pretty much how it went throughout the whole program I would finish one thing, and it was on to the next.”

As the program came to a close in July 2017, if Chris thought his life was going to slow down, he was wrong. Just before his last week of finals, Chris and his wife, Nicole, delivered their first child, Hugh Lawrence Wilson.

Chris spent his first few nights as a new father staying up late, studying for his last round of finals. Managing to pass them all, he now has a little bit of time to think about his future. Through a combination of natural skills and those he developed in the military, Chris has always been a leader. He used those skills in his time at the SSON. 

“i’m not the most outspoken person,” Chris says. “I like to lead by example, but I tried to speak out sometimes, I knew I was one of the oldest ones in the class and wanted to be someone my classmates could look up to.”

Now, Chris is going to use his skills as a nurse in the surgical intensive care unit at University Hospital here in Columbia. He hopes that role will help him to continue acquiring skills and experiences that will help him achieve his ultimate goal. Chris is currently in the process of switching from being an engineer in the National Guard to being enlisted in the Medical Services Corps. He wants to be able to be deployed and be one of the frontline nurses that deal with casualties of war.

“That is the fruition of everything that happened in that attack in 2012,” Chris says. “I just want to be someone that soldiers can rely on and feel comfortable that they are in the best care with me.”

SSON welcomes first Fulbright Scholar to PhD program

The Sinclair School of Nursing (SSON) is pleased to welcome its first Fulbright Scholar to the school. Justina Yevu Johnson comes to the University of Missouri from Tema, Greater Accra, Ghana, where she was a nursing instructor at Central University College. Justina knew she wanted to pursue a PhD, so when the opportunity presented itself to apply to be a Fulbright Scholar, she applied and was accepted.   

With a BSN and MS(N) from the University of Ghana, Justina is interested in researching palliative care. This is her first time in the United States. After three weeks of orientation in Ohio, Justina arrived in Columbia August 12 and began classes this semester. Her husband and five-year-old son are still in Ghana, but will be moving here after Justina completes her first semester.

Justina says she is most excited to work with the faculty and in the facilities in the SSON, but that she will miss her students in Ghana, with whom she had built meaningful relationships. She hopes to earn her PhD degree in four years.

Jonas Center Renews Jonas Global Fellowship

The Jonas Center announced last week they have approved the Sinclair School of Nursing’s Jonas Global Fellowship for two more years. The Jonas Global Fellowship provides global health research experiences for graduate nursing students, such as DNP student Beth Mettes, RN, BSN.

Beth traveled to the Dominican Republic as part of the MU team to support underserved communities to work on hypertension prevention screening and treatment. In a post on the Jonas Center’s website, Beth wrote about her work there, including the role she played in cataract education.

“The Foundacion Enciende una Luz (Light a Candle Foundation) is doing excellent work providing much needed healthcare services to the underserved population of the bateyes in the Dominican Republic, particularly to prevent, diagnose and treat hypertension through home visits to check blood pressure and provide refills of antihypertensive medications. As part of this work, it was identified that many of the bateyes population are suffering from cataracts, and that education on this topic should be integrated into the hypertension program. Now, after having blood pressure monitored and receiving their refills, individuals participating in this program are shown an educational display with facts regarding cataracts and the importance of wearing sunglasses for protection and are given a pair of sunglasses to take home.

The pre-educational questions identified that overall, people in the bateyes have heard the word cataract, but didn’t know what it meant. Even people who were visibly affected didn’t realize they were experiencing a cataract. The education provided them much insight as they had no idea they should be protecting their eyes. I’m honored to be part of providing something as simple as a pair of sunglasses that is going to prevent eye deterioration and potential loss of sight in this community.”

Check out our Spring 2016 issue of Mizzou Nursing magazine for a story on Alexis Downs, who traveled to the Dominican Republic through the Jonas Center. 

2017-2020 NINR Funded T32 Health Behavior Science Pre-Doctoral Fellows Selected

The MU Sinclair School of Nursing is pleased to announce Laura Remy, MPH, RN, of Kansas City, Mo., and Maureen Varty, BSN, RN, of Washington, D.C., have been selected as National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) funded T32 Health Behavior Science Pre-Doctoral Fellowship recipients for 2017-2020.

As a PhD student, Laura is studying the development of behavioral interventions to enhance the outcomes in vulnerable populations living with chronic health conditions, such as HIV. She is mentored by Maithe Enriquez, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing.

As a PhD student, Maureen is studying health behavior interventions related to improving transitional care for adolescents and young adults with chronic disease. She is mentored by Lori Popejoy, PhD, APRN, GCNS-BC, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing.

The SSON is one of five departments at the University of Missouri with an NIH-funded T32 training grant. Moreover, the SSON is one of only 16 schools of nursing nationwide to receive an NINR-funded T32 grant.

The T32 Health Behavior Science Pre-Doctoral Fellowship provides financial support (stipend, tuition/fees/ health insurance, travel to conferences), mentoring and research skill development opportunities to goal-directed, full-time nursing PhD students dedicated to pursuing a research career in health behavior science.

Specifically, the NINR-funded T32 training program focuses on health behavior science to prepare the next cadre of nurse scientists who will develop knowledge to change health behaviors that significantly improve public health. Upon completion of this pre-doctoral health behavior science training program, trainees will have the requisite knowledge and skills to conduct rigorous health behavior research, which will significantly contribute to efforts to reduce morbidity, mortality and health care