USF Receives HRSA Grant to Prepare Nursing Educators

Joliet, Ill. – The Leach College of Nursing at the University of St. Francis (USF) was recently awarded the prestigious Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) Grant by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant, worth close to $250,000 annually, seeks to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty nationwide, and through loan cancellation, decrease the financial barrier that nursing instructors often experience.

“The purpose of this program is to prepare highly qualified, diverse nursing educators, thereby reducing the nursing faculty shortage and addressing health disparities. The NFLP funds will provide tuition assistance to 20 future nurse educators in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and post-master’s certificate programs,” said Christina Nordick, APRN, CNP, grant project director and Associate Professor of nursing at USF.

The grant will help USF to address three primary goals. The first is to increase the quantity and diversity of nurse educators in the greater Chicagoland area. The grant will also help USF NFLP loan recipients receive high-quality preparation for their nurse-educator roles, which will in turn help to decrease the shortage of nurse educators in the Chicagoland area.

As outlined in the terms of the grant, students may receive up to $12,490 annually to pay for tuition, fees, books, and educational expenses. After graduation, if recipients are employed fulltime as nurse faculty at an accredited institution, if they are employed part time in an accredited nursing institution and are precept advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) students part time, of if they are precept APRN students full time for four years, 85% of the grant is “forgiven”.

“NFLP funding will relieve students’ financial burden and provide incentives for students to enter careers in nurse education in academic and clinical settings, thereby expanding the nurse faculty workforce. Students will benefit from the various in-kind supportive structures provided at USF, such as mentorship, advising, and career-development activities, which will help students overcome barriers that prevent them from persisting through graduation,” Nordick added.

Visit stfrancis.edu/leach-college-of-nursing for more information on nursing programs at USF.

About the Health Resources and Services Administration

According to its web site, hrsa.gov, the mission of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is to improve health outcomes and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce, and innovative, high-value programs. HRSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable. HRSA programs help those in need of high quality primary health care, people with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women, and mothers. HRSA also supports the training of health professionals, the distribution of providers to areas where they are needed most and improvements in health care delivery.

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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.

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Three Instructors Earn Title of Professor Emeritus at USF

Joliet, Ill. – With the spring 2021 semester at the University of St. Francis (USF) concluding on Friday, May 7, three of the university’s faculty members have now officially earned the title of Professor Emeritus and will begin their retirement. The title of Professor Emeritus is granted by the university president (Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D.) – with the consent of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees – in recognition of a faculty member’s loyalty and unique contribution to USF and commonly marks the professional retirement of the title’s recipient.

Debra Bacharz, Ph.D., held the rank of Professor of Nursing in the USF Leach College of Nursing and maintained a full-time faculty appointment at USF for 30 years. She earned her BSN from Marycrest College, her M.S. from Northern Illinois University, and her Ph.D. from Capella University.

For Bacharz, teaching for the past three decades has been a true calling.

“My teaching at USF has been my passion for the last 30 years! Through all the ups and downs – pandemic and all – it has been my joy and privilege to serve our future nurses.  The expertise, dedication and collegiality of the USF faculty and staff has added to added to that joy and privilege,” she said.

As she begins her retirement, Bacharz is already set to enjoy her newfound free time.

“I will walk on the beach more, spend as much time as possible with my family, especially my grandchildren, and maybe write an article or two,” she said.

Patricia Pascoe, M.S., held the rank of Assistant Professor with Distinguished Teaching Faculty Status in the USF College of Arts and Sciences and maintained a full-time faculty appointment at USF for 41 years. Pascoe earned her B.S. from St. Norbert College and her M.S. from Bowling Green State University.

As she reflects on her teaching experience at USF, Pascoe uses two words to describe it.

“My teaching experience at USF can be summarized as one of passion and growth. The passion was for my discipline and our wonderful students. Growth in my discipline was being able to develop a comprehensive human anatomy program, which uses cadavers for teaching and provides students with the unique experience of cadaver dissection. I have fond memories of the two years I spent in Albuquerque with the PA program and I am proud to have been a part of its establishment. A large part of my success at USF stems from my loving and supportive family,” she said.

Pascoe added that her fondest memories center around the experiences she shared with her students.

“My fondest memories of teaching at USF involve working shoulder to shoulder with my students, both as lab assistants and in my dissection class. These students have touched my life. I am especially proud of the students who went on to do graduate work in anatomy and those who found successful niches in healthcare,” she said.

While she knows that many projects await her, Pascoe begins her retirement awaiting the guidance of her heart.

“I am intentionally planning to do nothing until my heart leads me in a new direction. I have many projects that need my attention, but I am going to take some time to “be comforted by the sweet territory of silence,” Pascoe said.

Anthony Zordan, CPA, DBA, held the rank of (full) Professor in the USF College of Business and Health Administration and maintained a full-time faculty appointment at USF for 38 years. Zordan earned his BSC and MBA at DePaul University, and earned his DBA from Nova Southeastern University.

As Zordan reflects on his teaching experience at USF, he places a high level of importance on connecting with his students.

“I tried to motivate students to do two things: to ‘get it’; to understand the material, and to see their work as a vocation and calling. I also tried to motivate them by letting them know I loved them by taking an interest, showing I cared, getting to class early and staying late, by going to some of their sporting events, wearing a tie. It sounds corny, but that’s why I wore a tie,” he said.

Now that his retirement has begun, Zordan already has a variety of plans for his new journey.

“My only commitment as of today is to start giving piano lessons to the 6 year old son of one of my nieces, although I’ve never given lessons. I also plan to learn Spanish and am starting with signing up for a class at USF this fall,” he said.

“Ultimately, I want to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and I think he is leading me in the direction of  continuing with the work of the Wheeler Grant to help students and maybe even businesses see their work as vocation, along with helping seniors navigate Social Security and Medicare, and helping the chronically unemployed,” Zordan added.

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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.

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Gold Foundation to Honor USF Employees and Local Pharmacist

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) and KODO Care Pharmacy have partnered over the past several months to administer some of the first Covid-19 vaccines in the Joliet area, including residents of long term care facilities and developmentally disabled patients who were unable to get the vaccine elsewhere. Their efforts will be recognized by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation this summer as part of the organization’s Annual Gala event on June 10, 2021.

USF Leach College of Nursing representatives Kimberly Gibson, BSN, RN, and Annette Mattea, DNP, RN, APN/CCNS, CNE, and KODO Care Pharmacy president and pharmacist Chad Kodiak will be presented with Champion of Humanistic Care recognition as part of an event that will also recognize Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Wayne Riley, and Dr. Eric Topol with National Humanism in Medicine Medals. The three local honorees will each receive a certificate from the Gold Foundation and will be celebrated at the Gold Foundation’s Annual Gala through recognition on the Gold Foundation website and in the digital gala program.

The trio was nominated for the honor by Ebere Ume, Ph.D., MSN, RN, PHN, Dean of the USF Leach College of Nursing.

“Congratulations to Kim, Annette and Chad on their recognition by the Arnold Gold Foundation as a Champion of Humanistic Care, for their extensive work on ensuring Covid-19 vaccination for our community, promoting a great partnership between USF LCON and Kodo Care Pharmacy, and providing wonderful practice opportunities for our students,” Ume said.

Gibson points to those she served as inspiration to exceed even her own expectations on persevering through the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us all a lot about love, loss, and that distance still cannot stop the power of human connection. There were many very hard days, and yet there were also days of happiness and joy. The patients are what kept me going. They were my inspiration to push the limits and do what some would say was unachievable. Simply holding a hand in silence or watching the tears of joy and relief is why I do what I do,” Gibson said.

For Mattea, the experience has reinforced the important role that nurses have, especially in times of challenge.

“Nurses are known as trustworthy and caring. The Covid-19 pandemic has tested everyone’s physical and mental capabilities, including nurses. We were challenged to understand and show empathy while experiencing grief and loss ourselves. Covid-19 had no boundaries. But during this time, we also shared silence and inactivity while reflecting on the importance of understanding, listening and empathy for others. We helped allay fears of the unknown when we didn’t have all of the answers. We are all humans. We are all important. We are all equal. Covid hit the human heart and soul but perseverance, kindness, and compassion towards others got us through. Being part of the solution through volunteerism has been rewarding knowing that I am helping all I serve and care for as we long for brighter days ahead,” Mattea said.

For Kodiak, his efforts stemmed from the answer to a simple question: what can I do to help?

“Compassion is what has gotten me through the difficult days during the Covid-19 pandemic…and there have been many difficult days. Knowing that a person not only needs but also is often dependent on our care is the motivation that gets me and our team at KODO Care through the late nights, difficult days, and seemingly impossible scenarios. I believe in the goodness of human beings and I have seen that goodness countless times during this ordeal. There have been literally too many times to count when people are saying ‘What can I do to help?’ And every time there has been something, and every time they have done it,” Kodiak said.

About the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation infuses the human connection into healthcare. We engage schools, health systems, companies, and individual clinicians in the joy and meaning of humanistic healthcare, so that they have the strength and knowledge to ensure patients and families are partners in collaborative, compassionate, and scientifically excellent care.

Dr. Arnold Perlman Gold and his wife, Sandra, co-founded The Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1988 with an aim toward sustaining the human connection in medicine and ensuring all patients received compassionate care. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s programs, such as the White Coat Ceremony and the Gold Humanism Honor Society, are now found in nearly every medical school in the country.

Visit gold-foundation.org for more information.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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USF Students Earn CVS Health Foundation Scholarships

Joliet, Ill. – Three students pursuing a family nurse practitioner (FNP) degree at the University of St. Francis (USF) have recently been named recipients of the CVS Health Foundation Scholarship. Each of the students – Chao Moua, Eva Cybulski, and Renalda Tomic – were awarded a $1,000 scholarship that has been credited toward their student accounts.

USF’s Leach College of Nursing administered the application and selection process at the university level. Applicants are required to be students in good standing in the FNP program. Additional consideration was given to students who are military veterans, as well as those who are bilingual or a member of a minority or underserved population.

“We are appreciative of the financial support offered to our students through the CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program. The investment that this support makes locally continues to be paid forward as our graduates continue to serve our communities,” said USF Leach College of Nursing dean Ebere Ume, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., PHN.

About the CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program

The CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program is our contribution to supporting family nurse practitioners and physician assistants of tomorrow as they complete their education. Through this scholarship program, the CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program is proud to support its affiliated academic partners through funding that allows them to offer scholarships to their eligible FNP/PA students.

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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.

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Alysa Kline Named a 2020 Student Laureate

Alysa Kline

Joliet, Ill.  – The Lincoln Academy of Illinois recently honored top students representing Illinois’ colleges and universities with the 46th annual Lincoln Academy Student Laureate virtual ceremony on November 10. University of St. Francis (USF) senior Alysa Ann Kline, a nursing major from Joliet, was one of 55 students named to the Class of 2020 Student Laureates.

“Being named as USF’s 2020 Student Laureate is truly an honor. Helping others has given me a sense of purpose and becoming a Student Laureate has only fueled my drive to create a community that I want my children, our future generations, and our family to grow old in. I believe it is obligatory to be a good citizen, great role model, and to advocate for others,” Kline said.

Kline, who was nominated for the award by USF Leach College of Nursing faculty members Lynnann Murphy, MSN, R.N.; Megan Vasecka, MSN, R.N.; Julie Bialas, MSN, FNP-C; and USF Academic Resource Center assistant director, Joanna Kourtidis, added that she now recognizes the future impact that effort put into today can create.

“(President Abraham) Lincoln said it best in his annual message to congress, ‘the fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.’ Therefore, through this award, I realize that a single person like myself can have a ripple effect that lasts generations. This award has been subtle reminder that my work, our work, within the community is never done,” she said.

As she enters the final semester of her undergraduate studies at USF, Kline believes that USF has prepared her well to make a difference within her field.

“Nursing school is challenging and the thought of obtaining a job after graduation is daunting to some. Through state-of-the-art high-fidelity simulation labs, extensive hands-on training, clinical practice in a wide variety of settings, and career support services, USF has made me feel confident in my transition from student nurse to new graduate RN. Furthermore, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to see firsthand what it means to be a nurse who advocates, is passionate, thoughtful, patient, dedicated, and culturally aware by observing my own nursing instructors in action,” Kline said.

After graduating in spring 2021, Kline looks to begin her career working in a hospital setting focused on children with critical needs.

“I want to specialize in critical care and work as a PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) nurse. I grew up in a small, rural area, where access to healthcare was limited. My own person experience and knowledge as a student nurse has inspired me to want to work in a critical shortage facility before returning to school to complete my master’s degree studies. I am confident that whichever path I choose will be rewarding and one of service,” Kline said.

About the Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Virtual Ceremony

The 46th annual Lincoln Academy Student Laureate virtual ceremony recognized excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities by seniors from each of the state’s four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities, and one student from the community colleges in Illinois.

The Zoom production included a congratulatory statement by Governor J.B. Pritzker, the President of the Lincoln Academy. Academy Vice Chancellor, The Honorable Ron Spears, gave the invocation and Chancellor Frank Clark provided welcoming remarks. Four Laureates of The Lincoln Academy spoke to each of the four recognized pillars Abraham Lincoln’s leadership, which include: Courage, 2012 Lincoln Laureate and 1990 Student Laureate Jean Driscoll; empathy, 2005 Lincoln Laureate and past Academy Chancellor Stephanie Pace Marshall, Ph.D.; honesty, 2019 Laureate George Will; and integrity, 2014 Laureate Michael “Coach K” Krzyzewski.

Student Laureates will also receive a letter and certificate of merit signed by Gov. Pritzker, a Lincoln medallion, a challenge coin, and a $500 check from The Lincoln Academy. Student Laureates were selected by their individual schools.

In addition to honoring the state’s Student Laureates, Illinois is unique in the United States in selecting present or former citizens who have made outstanding contributions toward the progress and betterment of humanity to be honored as Laureates of the Lincoln Academy and receive the “Order of Lincoln” from the Governor, a process that has been in place since 1964.

Proceeds from the spring Laureate Convocation are used to support the Student Laureate program each fall. For more information or to view the ceremony, visit TheLincolnAcademyOfIllinois.org or any of The Lincoln Academy’s social media sites.

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, 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.

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