UA Nurse-Scientists Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Research, Practice and Education

Apr 15, 2016

Nearly 50 nurse-scientists and scholars from the University of Arizona College of Nursing, including faculty, students and alumni, participated in the Western Institute of Nursing (WIN) 49th Annual Communicating Nursing Research Conference, held April 6-9 in Anaheim, Calif.

Nurse-scientists seek knowledge to prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate symptoms, promote health equity, enhance end-of-life care and more.

During the WIN conference, which was attended by hundreds of leading nurse-scientists, faculty and graduate students from across 13 Western states, several UA College of Nursing students and faculty members were recognized with prestigious awards.

Distinguished Nursing Research Lectureship Award

As a senior investigator who has made substantial and sustained contributions to nursing and health science over the course of her career, Carrie J. Merkle, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor, received the Distinguished Nursing Research Lectureship Award.

Dr. Merkle is a nationally recognized expert in biological models to explain cellular changes that impact a person’s health or wellness. Holding a PhD in zoology and a master’s degree in nursing, her program of research is focused on the role of injury and inflammation in a variety of contexts, including endothelial cell biology, breast cancer and aging, stress and wound healing and shared risk factors for breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

As the Distinguished Lectureship awardee, Dr. Merkle had the honor of closing the 2016 WIN conference with her lecture, “Inflammation: More Than a Response to Injury.”

Western Academy of Nurses Fellow

Jane M. Carrington, PhD, RN, assistant professor and a 2008 graduate of the UA College of Nursing PhD program, was inducted as a Fellow of the Western Academy of Nurses.

A nationally recognized expert in health-care information and technology, Dr. Carrington is conducting a three-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, to increase patient safety by enhancing nurse-to-nurse communication (NSF/NIH-OD-OBSSR-NIBIB R01EB020395).

Specifically, she and her team aim to improve nurses’ identification and reporting of clinical events linked to a higher risk of unexpected patient death by augmenting electronic health record technology so that an alert is triggered when a clinical event is imminent or occurring.

As an educator, Dr. Carrington’s innovative teaching methods include using Twitter assignments to engage her students and using game theory as the foundation for several of her online courses. A highly sought-after mentor, during the WIN conference, Dr. Carrington led a podium session with five of her PhD students focused on innovations to engage nurses in effective communication.

Ann M. Voda American Indian/Alaskan Native/First Nation Conference Award

Nicholas Zumwalt, MS, RN, CEN, CPEN, a student in the online PhD program at the UA College of Nursing, received the Ann M. Voda American Indian/Alaskan Native/First Nation Conference Award.

A member of the Cherokee Nation who lives in Broken Arrow, Okla., Zumwalt is a board-certified emergency and pediatric emergency nurse. Having gained insights as the parent of a special-needs child, his research is focused on symptom management, particularly symptoms of suffering in children unable to communicate verbally, which he presented during a WIN poster session.

Using a palliative care framework, Zumwalt aims to advance the identification and treatment of suffering in these children and strengthen understanding of how family dynamics influence care. The focus of palliative care is to relieve the symptoms, pain and physical and mental stress of a serious illness, regardless of the diagnosis.

Poster Contest Finalists

In the WIN poster contest, PhD students Beverly Sterling Washington, MSN, RN, MBA, and Tracy Crane, MS, RDN, were selected as finalists. In their investigations, both are adding knowledge about health and wellness in the context of breast cancer. Washington is investigating African American breast cancer survivors’ intentions to prevent weight gain, which is a common, unwanted outcome experienced by women receiving chemotherapy. To improve recovery and support, Crane is examining depression, anxiety and symptom distress among Latina breast cancer survivors and their supportive partners.