UNCG School of Nursing Garners National Honors 

Posted on December 14, 2023

15 nursing students sitting at tables in a lab

Efforts to advance precision health and to use innovative video simulations in nurse practitioner education earned UNC Greensboro’s School of Nursing a recent place in the national spotlight. 

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recently awarded school representatives, including Dean Debra J. Barksdale, with its Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award. UNCG won the award in the public colleges and universities category.  

In Fall 2023, the association, which represents over 865 member schools, also announced that UNCG was one of six U.S. institutions to receive grant funding to accelerate nursing research related to precision health. 

A Leader in Nursing Education 

Dean Barksdale holding AACN award in group of four women

The innovation award recognized the School of Nursing’s development of 28 clinical simulation videos to be used in face-to-face courses or individually through online learning management systems. Aligned with national nurse practitioner competencies and the AACN framework for professional nursing education, the video series augments the school’s adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner program and its new family nurse practitioner program

According to a recent study published in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, nursing faculty from across the country found the clinical simulation videos to be an effective way to help students demonstrate decision-making skills and to gain knowledge that could be applied in clinical practice. UNCG developed simulation videos have been used by advanced practice nursing programs nationally.  

An Exemplary Team Effort 

The project was a team effort involving several members of the family practitioner faculty, including Drs. Laurie Kennedy-Malone, Autumn Henson, Eric Gill, Carolyn Hoskins, Kathryn Lawrence, and Rebecca Kalinoski.  

Kennedy-Malone led the development of the videos and accompanying faculty guides as well as efforts to validate and disseminate them nationally for nurse practitioner education.  For her role, Kennedy-Malone won Sigma Nursing’s 2021 Edith Moore Copeland Award for Excellence and Innovation. The award recognizes creativity and innovation impacting nursing education, practice, or research. 

In her nomination of the video project for the AACN award, Dean Barksdale applauded the effort as “an exemplar of advancement in professional nursing education.” 

Groundbreaking Research for More Personalized Healthcare 

Three diverse people looking at camera for All of Us Research Program

In a nod to UNCG’s excellence in nursing research, AACN awarded a grant of $12,000 to the School of Nursing. The award was part of the association’s efforts to engage nurse researchers with the All of Us Research program, a National Institutes of Health initiative aimed at helping shift healthcare in the U.S. from one-size-fits-all to more tailored approaches. 

In personalizing healthcare and prevention, precision health considers how factors such as where individuals live, their genetic makeup, their family medical history, and their lifestyle choices contribute to their health and well-being. 

At UNCG, Dr. Amber Vermeesch is working with doctoral student Whitney Schutz to dive into the All of Us national health database, designed to reflect the diversity of the U.S. population.  

Beyond One-Size-Fits-All Healthcare 

With Vermeesch as her mentor, Schutz is exploring electronic medical records, survey results, and other health information to explore associations between Black people’s perceived discrimination in healthcare and everyday life and such markers of their health and wellbeing as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  

Specifically, they want to know if the associations differ between Black men and Black women. 

“We hope this research contributes to shifting beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to a better understanding of factors and association of social determinants of health with physiologic markers of health and well-being,” says Vermeesch, an associate professor and coordinator of UNCG’s family nurse practitioner concentration.  

“The world is not as simple as putting people in binary categories,” she adds. “We know this. And if we can be kinder and increase how we view people and how we work with individuals versus a category, that’s going to be nothing but better for us.” 

Story by Dee Shore, AMBCopy LLC
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
Photography courtesy of AACN and NIH All of Us Research Program

15 nursing students sitting at tables in a lab



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