May 2016 Graduates Receive Diplomas

With black caps and gown, various cords and apricot tassels, new graduates were a bundle of excitement as they waited to cross the stage. As their fellow classmates addressed them, students cheered and hollered and couldn’t wait to be handed their degree.

In all, the Sinclair School of Nursing conferred 153 degrees during its commencement ceremony May 13 in Jesse Auditorium. Fifty traditional students received their BSN along with 38 accelerated students, who will finish classes in July. Eighteen students completed the RN to BSN program.

On the graduate level, 10 students received their master’s degree, 36 completed a DNP and one received her PhD.

Judith Fitzgerald Miller, Dean, Sinclair School of Nursing, and Garnett Stokes, PhD, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs encouraged and celebrated the graduates. Dominic Chambers, traditional BSN candidate, Christyl Thurman, accelerated BSN candidate, and Sara Landreth, DNP candidate, addressed their fellow classmates.

Each graduate also received an apricot rose from Donna Otto, instructor of nursing and director of alumni relations.

Earlier in the day, 52 students, most of whom were graduates, were inducted into mid-Missouri’s Alpha Iota chapter of Sigma Theta Tau honor society.

As the new graduates go their separate way and enter the real world, we know they are well prepared to handle the challenges they will face. They are not just nurses, after all, but Mizzou nurses.

Graduate Receives MU Dissertation Discipline Award in Biological and Life Sciences

Jennifer Hulett, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, a 2015 graduate of the Sinclair School of Nursing’s PhD program, was honored at the the Graduate Awards Banquet Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Dr. Hulett received the MU Dissertation Discipline Award in Biological and Life Sciences for her dissertation research entitled “Impact of Religious and Spiritual Beliefs on Neuroendocrine Function and Health Outcomes in Breast Cancer Survivors.”

Her dissertation research involved exploration of relationships between and among spirituality, stress and neuroimmune biomarkers in breast cancer survivorship outcomes, an increasingly ‘hot topic’ in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). Dr. Hulett’s focus on neuroimmune biomarkers, breast cancer survivorship outcomes and PNI-based symptom intervention design comprises one of the priority program initiatives currently funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 

During her innovative and rigorous dissertation research, Dr. Hulett reached out to MU collaborators for her research program, including CAFNR Fisheries and Wildlife, Health Psychology, Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, Human Development and Family Science, and Nursing.

The completion of this novel psychoneuroimmunological research has provided Dr. Hulett the opportunity to significantly extend her dissertation accomplishments through an appointment for a highly competitive post-doctoral fellowship at University of Utah in the NIH-funded (T32 mechanism) Interdisciplinary Training Center on Cancer, Aging and End-of-Life Care for 2015-2017. 

PhD Graduate Selected as May 2016 MU Doctoral Commencement Marshal

Pamela Ostby, PhD, RN, OCN, a 2016 graduate of the Sinclair School of Nursing’s PhD Program, was selected by the Office of Graduate Studies to be the Doctoral Student Commencement Marshal at the Doctoral Commencement Ceremony May 15, 2016.

As the Doctoral Student Marshal, Pamela got to wear a marshal’s sash, was the first doctoral student to enter the auditorium, her name appeared in the commencement bulletin in the list of marshals, and she was the first doctoral student to walk across the stage and receive her doctoral hood.

Dr. Ostby was advised and mentored by Jane Armer, PhD, RN, FAAN. At the Doctoral Student Commencement, Pamela was hooded by Deidre D. Wipke-Tevis, PhD, RN, Director of the PhD Program at the Sinclair School of Nursing.

Sinclair School of Nursing Receives $19.8 Million Grant

April 6, 2016

The University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing today announced they have received nearly $20 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare &Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand their Missouri Quality Initiative for Nursing Homes. Through this program the Sinclair School of Nursing is working to create a national model for senior care and significantly reduce national health care spending.

“We have already seen monumental success from the Missouri Quality Initiative for Nursing Homes,” said Judith Fitzgerald Miller, dean of the Sinclair School of Nursing. “Just last month our researchers received kudos from CMS from the first phase of the project. Having the opportunity to expand this program showcases the university’s commitment to improving nursing homes and care of older adults not only in Missouri, but across the nation.”

Launched in 2012, the Missouri Quality Initiative for Nursing Homes is a partnership among MU, CMS and state Medicaid programs, and 16 collaborating nursing homes in St. Louis committed to improving care. The program is led by Marilyn Rantz, Curators’ Professor Emerita of Nursing and a team of MU researchers. The second phase of the program will take place at an additional 16 homes that have systems in place to manage the most common diseases associated with hospitalizations: pneumonia, dehydration, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections, skin ulcers and asthma. Potentially eligible homes have already been identified by CMS and will be contacted shortly by the MOQI team.

“One of the challenges nursing homes face in determining care is the amount of payment they receive from CMS,” Rantz said. “This disparity in payment, between what hospitals are paid and the significantly less amount nursing homes are paid, leads nursing homes to hospitalize residents who could have been cared for in the home. For example, a physician can bill CMS $203 for a resident hospitalized with pneumonia, but a nursing home can only bill $136. This inequity means that decisions about resident care can come down to money, not what is best for the patient.”

As a result of the new funding, CMS has agreed to standardize payments under Medicare Part B for the treatment of qualifying conditions, increasing the amount paid to participating nursing homes for the treatment of conditions onsite. Rantz and her fellow researchers will then study whether the incentive of increased payment will help nursing homes reduce their hospitalization rate.

Since launching, the Missouri Quality Initiative for Nursing Homes has recruited and placed an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at 16 participating nursing homes. The APRNs worked with nursing home staff and health providers to coordinate patient care. One of the results of the project was a 34.5 percent decrease in potentially avoidable hospitalizations.

Rantz’s pioneering work in nursing homes care quality spans thirty years and she is regarded as a premier international expert in quality measurement in nursing homes and research programs to improve quality of care of older people.

Other MU nursing school researchers involved in the project include: Greg Alexander, professor Marcia Flesner, clinical instructor Jessica Mueller, program coordinator Lori Popejoy, associate professor Amy Vogelsmeier, associate professor MU researchers from other colleges and schools include: Colleen Galambos, professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences’ School of Social Work Greg Petroski, biostatistician in the Medical Research Office.

Subcontractors on the grant are Primaris, a federally designated organization that works to improve health care quality and affordability for Missouri residents, and Missouri Health Connections, a non-profit organization that creates secure health information networks to connect patients and providers in the state.

Donors Kickstart New Building Fundraising Efforts

University of Missouri officials announced two gifts to the MU Sinclair School of Nursing (SSON) totaling $3 million to support the construction costs of a new academic building for the SSON. Michael and Millie Brown have given $2 million to support the new building. Richard Miller has given $1 million to support the same project.

“We cannot thank the Browns and Mr. Miller enough for their vision and support,” said Hank Foley, MU interim chancellor. “This new building will contribute to the state’s economy by strengthening the workforce of a profession that is highly marketable and vital to all Missourians’ quality of life. These gifts will enable MU to admit more stellar students to study nursing and go on to gratifying careers in a highly reputable and much-needed profession.”

The proposed new SSON building is planned to be built near the current nursing building. It will include approximately 104,000 square feet of usable space, featuring larger classrooms, clinical seminar rooms, a simulation center and a research and innovation center. The new building will allow the SSON to admit as many as 40 additional students to the academic program each year, which will represent a 25 percent increase in enrollment. The new building is still in its early fundraising stages. Officials estimate the building will cost approximately $55 million to complete. These funds will be raised through private gifts, state matching funds and $10 million in SSON matching funds.

“We are incredibly grateful to Michael and Millie Brown and Richard Miller for their leadership gifts for our new Sinclair School of Nursing building,” said Judith Miller, dean of the SSON. “Their generosity is helping spearhead this project, the first step in moving it from a dream to reality. We will be able to establish a building that conveys the strength and health care leadership of this school of nursing. With the impending shortage of professional nurses in this nation, this new building will enable us to increase the numbers of students admitted to the clinical major by 25 percent. We will have cutting-edge learning environments so students can develop not only as competent nurses, but also as thought leaders making substantial contributions within health care systems.”

Michael and Millie Brown are residents of Leawood, Kan. and both are MU alumni. Millie earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Michael was one of the founders of Euronet Worldwide, Inc., and has served as the president and chief executive officer since 1996. Michael serves on MU’s comprehensive campaign cabinet and Millie is a member of the SSON campaign executive board. 

“As alumni of MU, Millie and I believe the Sinclair School of Nursing, under the leadership of Dean Miller, currently provides nationally acclaimed academics for a limited number of students,” said Michael Brown. “Advancement of an improved facility, with additional educators and programs, will allow the SSON to be a national leader in nursing education, perfectly located in the Midwest. We also believe the Sinclair School of Nursing will be a capstone for the University, bringing more students, advanced health care research and educators from around the nation to MU. This also will assist Mizzou in fulfilling its responsibility to educate nursing professionals to address the challenging health care needs in the region. This is a tremendous opportunity for growth for the school, the University and the region.”

Richard Miller, a resident of Pittsburg, Kan. and Columbia, Mo., is one of MU’s most dedicated and generous donors. Miller currently serves as tri-chair of MU’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, Mizzou: Our Time to Lead. Miller also serves on the SSON Campaign Executive Board and has previously given $300,000 to the SSON to support the Safe Practices Room, which provides a training space for students to participate in patient care simulations. Miller is president and CEO of Miller’s Professional Imaging/Mpix, and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from MU. He says his daughter’s experiences at MU helped inspire him to support the Sinclair School of Nursing.

“My daughter, Grace, had a terrific experience as a student at the Sinclair School of Nursing, graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in 2012,” Miller said. “In touring the facilities and getting to know Dean Miller and the faculty and staff, I was thoroughly impressed with everyone associated with the school. The state of Missouri has a dire need for nurses and new facilities will help to fill a portion of that need.”

With an overall fundraising goal of $1.3 billion, the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign will secure the University of Missouri’s status among the nation’s elite public universities by focusing on three priorities: endowment — building our endowment to compete with other institutions will strengthen our ability to attract and retain stellar students and faculty; signature centers and institutes — interdisciplinary centers and institutes will be the engine of research growth that will enhance our AAU status and add to our distinctiveness; and a campus renaissance — new and renovated facilities will propel Mizzou to global leadership in education and research and will help attract and retain students and faculty.