Wills-Savoia Named IBHE Nurse Educator Fellow

Joliet, Ill. – University of St. Francis (USF) Leach College of Nursing assistant professor and clinical simulation and learning director Jennifer Wills-Savoia DNP, MSN, R.N., has always answered a call to serve others. This has held true from her undergraduate studies in psychology, to her transition to nursing, and to her current role at USF. Now, Wills-Savoia’s service-based focus has been formally recognized by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, who recently named her a 2022 Nurse Educator Fellow. The honor carries with it a $10,000 fellowship award and an opportunity to share fellowship plans and activities with other Fellows and members of the Advisory Board for the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center.

Wills-Savoia plans to focus her fellowship award on two areas. The first area is to address perceived barriers on the national NCLEX nursing exam. One of these barriers – timed exam questions – affects many testers, especially those who do not fluently speak English. The second area is to further enhance USF’s simulation program.

“As an example, I met with three of my advisees fairly consistently throughout the duration of their educational program at USF, and was told that the NCLEX exam was their biggest struggle. Namely, the timed nature questions on the exam made it difficult. It’s complicated because they felt challenged to convert questions into their native language, arrive at a response, and then convert that response back to English in order to answer appropriately. Within that content, a time limit of one minute per question isn’t feasible,” she said.

“I just feel compelled to figure out a system, something that we can do to make this an easier process for them. These were three brilliant students and their testing results were compromised due to a barrier they couldn’t seem to break. There’s nothing that we can do differently right now as far as testing because the NCLEX does not make any accommodation for that, and that’s really what I’d like to push. I’d like to arrive at some sort of accommodation or solution for that. There has got to be something that we can do differently. I’d like to figure out a way to approach this,” Wills-Savoia added.

Wills-Savoia also feels that an enhanced simulation program at USF can offer students an even more comprehensive path to their degree, and a more thorough foundation upon which they can begin a career.

“What I love about simulation is that we can create situations that students might not see in a clinical setting but that they need to know about. We can challenge and push them beyond their comfort zone in a relatively safe space,” she said.

“I have been able to create some really interesting mental health simulations for small groups of students in the simulated setting, and as a result have seen their critical thinking skills just soar,” Wills-Savoia added.

The ability to offer these individualized approaches to challenges students face is something, according to Wills-Savoia, that sets USF apart from its peers.

“At USF, we try to maintain smaller class sizes. This approach allows each instructor to provide a personalized focus on each student. We utilize so many resources to support our students – resources that a lot of other colleges don’t have – and I think it’s that support that that has developed what we offer into a very long-standing, great program,” she said.

“We also offer students one-to-one mentoring, supplemental instruction and tutoring, along with many other resources. Additionally, we offer a coaching class here that is similar to tutoring, but that focuses more on helping students learn how to be successful on the NCLEX,” she added.

Aside from being in her role at USF since 2015, Wills-Savoia is very familiar with the university. She earned both her B.A. and BSN at USF.

“I love USF’s faith-based college setting and wanted to return to the place that helped me to develop into the educator and professional I am today. Our graduates seem to have the same calling. We regularly have a large number of students that come back and say that they want to return to USF to earn their master’s degree in nursing education. They want to return to USF with an end goal of serving others the way that USF instructors served them. That is a wonderful testament to what we do,” she said.

: :

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

# # #

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

USF Nursing Instructor Earns ISBE Fellowship

Joliet, Ill. –Being raised in a Catholic family, earning her undergraduate degree at Viterbo University (a Franciscan liberal arts college in La Crosse, Wis.) and now teaching at the University of St. Francis, it is no surprise that the Franciscan value of service flows through Lynnann Murphy, M.N., R.N., a nursing instructor in USF’s Leach College of Nursing. So when she was named a 2021 Nurse Educator Fellow by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), it makes perfect sense that Murphy plans to use the $10,000 fellowship award in ways that will help her to better serve both her students and her peers.

Murphy was one of ten IBHE Nursing Educator Fellows selected through this year’s program. Along with the financial award, Murphy will have an opportunity to share her fellowship plans and activities with other Fellows and members of the IBHE Advisory Board for the Nursing Workforce Center later this year. She is currently considering ways to use the award funds possibly including acquiring useful educational resources for students, exploring advances in technology to enhance nursing education, and obtaining educational teaching tools/equipment for her health assessment course. Murphy plans to attend an educational conference to further enhance her knowledge and skills in teaching. As a faculty mentor, Murphy also hopes to provide needed resources for the nursing faculty.

“As a nurse and as a nurse educator I have had excellent mentors and role models throughout my career, and I know it is because of all of them that I have received this amazing award,” Murphy said.

USF Leach College of Nursing Dean Ebere Ume, Ph.D., MSN, RN, PHN, said the award and recognition being received by Murphy are well deserved.

“We are so pleased with and honored by Lynnann’s dedication to quality education, along with her commitment to our students. In addition to the leadership she provides as an instructor, she provides supportive mentorship for faculty and students. Her teaching abilities are stellar, and students love and gravitate toward her for her compassion, caring, comfort and support,” Ume said.

Murphy said that her passion to serve others was strongly fostered by her undergraduate experience at Viterbo University (known as Viterbo College at the time of her attendance there).

“The campus culture at Viterbo stressed the importance of serving others. I was motivated to be very involved with the student nursing organization there and eventually became the president of the Wisconsin Student Nurses Association,” she said.

Murphy went on to earn her Masters in Nursing (Clinical Nurse Specialist) at the University of Washington, and then began her career at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, followed by a tenure at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. She then joined USF as an adjunct faculty member in 2007 and served as a clinical instructor for fundamental nursing students.

“When I first looked at joining USF as an adjunct instructor, I made it a point to visit campus. I knew it was a good fit right away. I felt the presence of the Franciscan value of service and knew this was where I was called to be,” Murphy said.

Murphy became a full-time faculty member at USF in 2013 and was tabbed as the lead instructor for the Leach College of Nursing’s course on health assessment. She also currently teaches Ministry in Nursing and nursing coaching courses. Murphy, who noted, “It takes a multitude of people to help educate a nursing student,” works closely with the Academic Resource Center, including nursing tutors, supplemental instructors, and students with disabilities.

About the Illinois Board of Higher Education Nurse Educator Fellowship Program

According to ibhe.org, “the purpose of the Nurse Educator Fellowship Program is to ensure the retention of well-qualified nursing faculty at institutions of higher learning that award degrees in nursing.” Awards are used to supplement the salaries participating honorees. Participation in the program is open to Illinois institutions of higher learning with a nursing program approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Association Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

For more information, visit ibhe.org/nefp.html.

: :

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

# # #

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn