Alumni News

Alumni News

Learn how Nurse Faculty Program scholars are influencing the Parkinson’s community

Alumni of The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Foundation are making an impact on Parkinson's research and care around the country.

Meet Our Annual Awardees

Each year, the program selects a graduate to receive an outstanding achievement award for improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s or for leadership and innovation in nursing education leading to improved care for those with Parkinson’s and their caregiver.

Diane M. Ellis, MSN, RN, CCRN, 2020 Awardee 

Diane M. Ellis, MSN, RN, CCRN has been chosen for the 2020 Safra Nurse Scholar Alumni Award.  Diane is Clinical Assistant Professor, Villanova University, Villanova, PA.

Diane has exhibited a long-term commitment to excellence in educating nurses about PD and has been an advocate for improving patient care.  She was a participant in our pilot VNF held in Philadelphia, PA, in 2009.  Since then, she has continued to develop creative programs for her nursing students as well as complete research on patient medication safety during transitions. In the process, Diane has utilized her colleagues in the nursing school who have developed a passion for PD as well.   More recently, Diane has developed an interprofessional program between her nursing school  and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, bringing together nursing, medical, psychology, and nurse anesthetists in  simulated PD  case work.  She has researched the effectiveness in her methods  in “Parkinson’s medication error and mock code simulation: Impact on students’ perceived comfort and competency in working with interprofessional teams”. 

Diane has published her work in Nursing Education Perspectives and presented her work at the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association Virtual Conference, 2020, the Quality and Safety in Nursing Education Forums, the World Parkinson Congresses and several other venues.  Diane was recently recognized in “Nova Worthy, 2020” for her committed care to championing patient care in groundbreaking ways.  

We are proud to recognize Diane for her continued efforts and enthusiasm with the 2020 Safra Nurse Scholar Faculty Award.  

Stephanie Stewart, MSN, RN-BC, 2019 Awardee 

In May 2018, Stephanie Stewart attended The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the University of Toledo.  The training and experiences provided there convinced Stewart that she had to find a way to improve the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s Disease in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas.  Stephanie was chosen for this year’s alumni awardee for her excellent and most comprehensive efforts to improve quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease, her contributions to nursing education for Parkinson’s disease and her advocacy work for Parkinson’s disease.  

After returning to Missouri after her VNF experience, Stewart sought out others interested in making a difference and found two women who possessed equal passion and drive.  Stewart, Dr. Maureen Raffensperger (Physical Therapist), and Tara Patterson (martial arts and boxing instructor) shared a dream to create a free exercise program for those with Parkinson’s Disease in St. Joseph, Missouri.  In December 2018, Live with PD! was born and began offering three boxing and one BIG AMPLITUDE exercise class (based on LSVT Big) per week.  Later that month, Live with PD! joined the Freudenthal Family (a home health entity) and became the Freudenthal Center for Parkinson’s Disease.  Stephanie and her team have continued to develop the center which now offers Singing for PD.  The sessions are well attended, and plans are in progress to include cycling, dancing, yoga, Tai Chi, caregiver supports, educational programs and social services.  A nurse navigation component is included which provides research for Stephanie’s doctoral thesis.  

Additionally, Stewart has plans to develop and implement a nurse navigator program as the culmination of her doctoral studies.   Stephanie plans to undertake a capital campaign in the next several years and her goal is raise $3.5 million to build a Parkinson’s Center for these important community services for those with Parkinson’s disease. 

Along with her active role in the community Stephanie maintains an active agenda of teaching nursing students about Parkinson’s disease and getting them involved.  Students participate in a 7-week blog with patients and caregivers providing them with an active learning experience and receive an updated evidenced based lecture.  A simulation lab Stephanie has created uses a home care Parkinson’s patient case study.  For teaching research strategies, Stephanie is working with her nursing students on assessing nurses’ knowledge on Parkinson’s Disease.  

Stephanie works hard in the community and is involved in advocacy work for Parkinson’s disease.  Examples include arranging speakers for the local support group, participating in Moving Day 2019 with the Heartland Chapter of the Parkinson’s Foundation and participating as an Aware in Care Ambassador. She has also presented on needs of those with Parkinson’s disease for staff at a local hospital.  

Stephanie takes advantage of opportunities to keep herself up to date on Parkinson’s disease and she, her team members and 2 of her nursing students attended the ATTP (Allied Team Training in Parkinson’s Disease). Additionally, to keep her skills and knowledge current, Stephanie audited a 2019 Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program and participated in a back to clinic day at Struthers’ Parkinson’s Disease Center in Minneapolis, MN.  

Tara Haskins, DNP, RN and Donna Hood, PhD, RN, CNE, 2018 Co-Awardees

The 2018 Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Foundation annual award is given to two colleagues from Louisiana Tech University, Tara Haskins, DNP, RN, Associate Professor, and Donna Hood, PhD, RN, CNE, Professor and Nursing Director. Drs. Haskins and Hood attended the 2017 program hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Drs. Haskins and Hood became interested in Parkinson’s Disease when they were introduced to a Rock Steady Boxing Class locally and then attended the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2017.  Their project was to develop a phenomenological research study of care partners of the Rock Steady Boxing program (publication pending).  Part of the outcome of this study was a demonstrated need for more education and support for those facing the uncertainty of the physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms of PD.  In searching for resources in their area, Drs. Haskins and Hood found only 5 resources groups/medical communities in the state of Louisiana addressing PD, and very limited access to PD resources and support in the rural northeast and central areas where Louisiana Tech University is located in Ruston, LA.  To addresses their findings, Drs. Haskins and Hood have developed a 4-year plan which brings together University resources to establish a PD  Information Center.  The Center will train nursing students and leverage multiple disciplines including speech/audiology, kinesiology, nutrition, dietetics and biomedical engineering, developing future leaders while providing resources and interventions for the PD community.

Dr. Haskins holds the Lincoln General-Glenwood Endowed Professorship at Louisiana Tech University and is an Associate Professor. She is a certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and has been recognized for her excellence with multiple awards, including the 2018 Louisiana Tech University Foundation Professorship Award for Research, Teaching and Service.  She holds a DNP from the University of Tennessee at Memphis, a MSN from the University of Texas at Tyler and a BSN from Northwestern State University, Shreveport, LA

Dr. Hood is the Professor and Director, Division of Nursing, Louisiana Tech University.  She is a certified nurse educator and has been recognized for her leadership with the 2018 Louisan Nursing School Administrator of the Year award.  She is a certified qualitative researcher, holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Tyler and a MSN and BSN from Northwestern State University, Shreveport, LA.

Debra Lemenager, MSN-ED, BSN, RN, 2017 Awardee

Debra attended the “VNF” at the Muhammed Ali Parkinson’s Disease Center in 2016.   Since then she has spoken at her college conference to RN, LPN, NA, and care techs by showing on/off videos, addressing meds on time, safety, exercise and non-motor symptoms.  She has influenced over 100 nurses in her first year since completing the “VNF”.  She is furthering her efforts to bring knowledge on PD to others by joining her university’s network for humanities, art and neurodegenerative care, a program bringing art and music to those with neurodegenerative processes.  Since Debra still occasionally “works a hospital shift” she has been able to influence hospital nurses’ understanding of PD care and share the Aware in Care Kit.  On a personal level, Debra has been able to help a close family member who has PD by recognizing that there is so much more to one’s care and needs than she had previously appreciated.  Debra’s motto is “Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it” by George Halas…a motto she is committed to with her new knowledge on Parkinson’s disease, and which will carry her through her doctorate studies at Arizona State University. 

“Prior to my attendance at the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Foundation, I felt that I had completed my schooling; having completed my Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, followed by my Master’s Degree in Nursing in 2016.  However, the program ignited my new aspiration to obtain a Doctorate in Nursing and pursue a career in Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.”

Laura Kelly, Ph.D., R.N., A.N.P.-C., and Cheryl Leiningen, D.N.P., R.N., A.N.P.-C., 2016 Co-Awardees

Dr. Kelly is Associate Professor and Program Director at Columbia University School of Nursing and Dr. Leiningen is Assistant Professor at Monmouth University School of Nursing and Health Studies. Both maintain clinical nursing practices.

After completing their training with the Nurse Faculty Program in 2015, Drs. Kelly and Leiningen developed a 15-week interactive educational activity “Meet Val And Holly: An Experiential Tour Through the Lives of A PD Family,” for their nursing curriculums, which they presented at the 4th World Parkinson Congress in Portland, OR. It walks nursing students through the journey of a person with Parkinson’s and care partner as they cope with a new diagnosis. Throughout the semester-long activity, as students read the journal of “Val and Holly” and submit assignments, we introduce them to Parkinson’s complexities — motor and non-motor symptoms, medication management, nutrition, home safety, care partner stress, adaptive equipment and resources — and the role nurses play in helping people to cope and live well.

The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Foundation congratulates and thanks Drs. Kelly and Leiningen for their work as it relates to nursing education to improve care in Parkinson’s.

Geralyn Altmiller, Ed.D., A.P.R.N., A.C.N.S.-B.C., 2015 Awardee

Dr. Altmiller is Associate Professor at the College of New Jersey and a clinical specialist at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She is an exceptional teacher, having been recognized for her excellence in nursing education with the 2014 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching

Dr. Altmiller has rapidly integrated her “VNF” experience into her career in nursing and nursing education, and has had an impact on the field by through the development of tools she is sharing with fellow nursing educators across the US.

After her training with VNF, Dr. Altmiller developed and published a case study entitled, “Unfolding Case Study: Applying the QSEN Competencies to the Care of Patients with Parkinson’s  Disease," on QSEN, a website highly utilized by nursing faculty around the country. Her case study addresses patient safety in Parkinson's disease. She also presented the case study on PD at the annual meeting of QSEN in San Diego in May 2015. It is now available as a free tool for nursing educators around the U.S. In a very short time, it has had far reaching impact, with nursing professors from across the country using her case study to teach their students about safe Parkinson's disease care.

In addition to Dr. Altmiller’s QSEN work, she has published about quality and safety in graduate and undergraduate nursing education and spoken nationally at other conferences on this topic. She focuses her research on health care delivery communication challenges and educational and clinical arena incivility challenges, which have negative effects on patient safety.  The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Foundation congratulates and thanks Geralyn for her work on the behalf of nursing education and Parkinson’s disease patient safe care.

Allen V. Prettyman, Ph.D., F.N.P.-B.C., 2014 Awardee

Dr. Prettyman is the Nurse Managed Health Center director and School of Nursing at the University of Delaware assistant professor.

He co-directs the university’s Parkinson’s Clinic with 2010 awardee Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff. Dr. Prettyman attended the program at Johns Hopkins University in 2013. He has a broad nursing background with specific preventive healthcare expertise. He led the March 2014 opening of the Parkinson’s Disease Telehealth Clinic in Newark, Del., which he and Pretzer-Aboff designed along with other colleagues to serve patients living far from easy access to PD experts. It allows people with Parkinson’s, without easy access to expert care, to telecommunicate with internationally known PD neurologists. This innovative clinic demonstrates that strong leadership and vision can combine clinical services, academic mission and research outcomes into an integrated and effective healthcare model. Dr. Prettyman is proud that he could provide an immersive educational platform focused on PD for three graduate nursing students and 11 undergraduate students in the clinic’s first six months. He plans to soon expand PD immersion for graduate and undergraduate students.

Joanna Rowe, Ph.D., M.S., B.S.N., 2013 Awardee

Ms. Rowe has been a nursing educator since 1989. Chronic illness, family nursing, simulation and curriculum development are the focus of her most recent teaching. She consults across the country on learning theory in nursing education, simulation design and curriculum, and has won teaching and scholarships awards at the University of Portland. Recently Linfield College-Good Samaritan School of Nursing appointed her full professor. She was hired to help implement a competency-based curriculum.

We chose Ms. Rowe as the 2013 VNF Alumni Awardee in appreciation of her work as the editor on the leading nursing textbook on U.S. family nursing, now used in more than 100 nursing schools. Her Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program project was including a chapter on Parkinson’s disease in the context of families dealing with chronic illness in this book. This effort to enhance nursing education on Parkinson’s disease has the potential to reach thousands of nursing students in the U.S. and Canada.

Johanna Romero deSlavy, R.N., M.S.N., C.R.R.N., B.C., 2012 Awardee

Johanna Romero deSlavy participated in The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Program at the Parkinson’s Foundation at Johns Hopkins University in 2011.  Mentored by Margaret McCormick (our 2011 Awardee), she took the PD simulation laboratory experience outside the university and into the hospital setting, educating newly hired nurses on Parkinson's disease care.  She is helping to meet the needs of Parkinson's patients in the acute care setting.  She is co-author with Ms. McCormick on "Teaching with Technology: Improving critical thinking through the use of a simulated unfolding case study in Parkinson's Disease," in the Journal of Neuroscience Nurses in February 2013.

Margaret McCormick, M.S., R.N., 2011 Awardee

We selected Ms. McCormick for the second Alumni Award in 2011. She participated in The 2010 Johns Hopkins University program. An excellent nursing educator at Towson University in Maryland, she developed “Teaching with Technology: Improving Critical Thinking Through the Use of a Simulated Unfolding Case Study on Parkinson’s Disease.” Her project recognizes the power of simulation labs in nursing education. Many universities plan to replicate this model for nursing student Parkinson’s disease education. Her unfolding case study follows a patient from early diagnosis to the middle stages of Parkinson’s, and then on to the advanced care period. She integrates family involvement and caregiver roles by having some students role-play parts, while others are nurses and the voice of the patient. Ms. McCormick presented her work at the 2010 Second World Parkinson Congress in Scotland. More recently, she completed an article with co-author Rebecca Dunlop, B.S.N., R.N., host site coordinator for the program at Johns Hopkins University, entitled "Placebo surgery in clinical trials research for Parkinson's Disease," which is now in press.

Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff, Ph.D., M.A., R.N., 2010 Awardee

We selected Dr. Pretzer-Aboff for the first Alumni Award in 2010. She participated in the 2009 pilot program. She continues to be actively involved in improving the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease through her research in a home exercise PD program that incorporates supportive telephone care and home visits. She also established a group exercise program for those with Parkinson’s disease, assisted with a PD support group, assisted with establishing an alliance of PD support groups and presented a poster on PD at the 2nd World Parkinson Congress in Scotland, 2010. Never to tire, she also visited her state Senator and advocated for the hiring of a movement disorder trained physician for the state of Delaware which previous to her involvement had none.  

Most recently, Dr. Pretzer-Aboff has been the driving force behind the first nurse managed Parkinson's disease telehealth clinic at the University of Delaware, which opened in March 2014.  Her current research is a collaborative study with the Department of Engineering at the University of Delaware to evaluate the effect of step synchronized vibration on people living with Parkinson's disease.

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