Endowed Chairs

The Bert Fish Scholar Upgrades Health Care for Communities

bushy_low_ec.jpgAngeline Bushy, PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC, FAAN

Nursing education and community health care are twin interests of Angeline Bushy, PhD. She has been advancing both for nearly two decades, as the Bert Fish Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair of the UCF College of Nursing on the Daytona regional campus.

When Bushy arrived at UCF Daytona in 1996, surrounding Volusia County had just a half-dozen nurses with bachelor’s degrees. She became aware of just one nurse holding a master’s degree in local hospitals. Today, registered nurses with an associate degree from Daytona State College have well delineated paths to UCF’s R.N. to B.S.N. and R.N. to M.S.N. programs. The UCF Daytona campus also offers a four-year B.S.N. nursing program.

Higher education for nurses translates into higher quality health care for patients and communities, Bushy said. “Research shows that patient outcomes in hospital settings are improved when they have baccalaureate prepared nurses,” she said.

Bushy earned her doctorate at the University of Texas and came to UCF from the University of Utah, where she was an associate professor and coordinator of the master’s program in community health nursing. Additionally, she served in the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps (LTC Ret.) and retired after more than 20 years of service.

Her scholarly interests have focused on the many challenges of rural health care. By every measure, from numbers of physicians to availability of preventive care, sparsely populated regions tend to be underserved, she said.

She currently is researching rural health clinics in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) with a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. She is co-investigator on the study led by Dr. Thomas Wan in the College of Health and Public Affairs.

An ACO focuses on disease prevention and management, with payments tied to keeping populations healthy. It is part of a growing effort to limit the need for costly, acute care in emergency rooms and hospitals. For that to be successful, community nursing must play a major role.

“Primary care starts in the community,” Bushy said. “You may be a school nurse, a parish nurse or a nurse with an insurance company; nurses are working with communities and planning care for the people who live there.” 

back to top

Always One to Challenge the System

sole_low_ec.jpgMary Lou Sole, PhD, RN, CCNS, CNL, FAAN, FCCM

Mary Lou Sole devotes her career to improving the care of hospital patients, particularly those who must spend time on ventilators for respiratory failure. The Orlando Health Endowed Chair and dean of the College of Nursing, Sole’s research interests include the best ways for these critically-ill patients to avoid complications.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia or other complications can add $40,000 to the cost of care and lengthen a hospital stay by up to 10 days, Sole says. Patients may require more time with an artificial airway and long-term respiratory assistance. “If you can get the tube out earlier and prevent infection, not only does it have other benefits, I’d argue that it improves quality of life,” she says.

Supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, Sole has researched prevention and measurement of fluid leakage into lungs. A recent $2.3 million grant from the NIH is funding her team’s study into how nurses can prevent leakage.

Funds from her Orlando Health appointment help her prepare the strongest possible grant proposals. She can pay a research assistant, travel for scientific meetings, and conduct pilot testing of clinical and lab techniques to support her research.

“Work supported by the professorship is used to show NIH that we have the resources and lab capacity to do the research we propose,” Sole says. “Funding for pilot work was instrumental in securing the $2.3 million grant because we could demonstrate how it can positively impact thousands of patients.” Sole earned her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin, but it was at the Ohio Valley General Hospital School of Nursing that she first discovered what became the focus of her career. A professor there emphasized patient care, particularly the importance of oral care for those on ventilators, Sole says. It became part of her practice and her teaching, and eventually developed into her passion.

“I am always one to challenge the system. What is the best way to do something? What’s the best frequency? How can we improve what we do?” she says. “When nurses say, ‘what you’ve done has changed my practice,’ that’s very fulfilling.”

back to top

Chatlos Professor Studies Minority and Immigrant Health

aroian_low_ec.jpgKaren Aroian, PhD, RN, FAAN

Karen Aroian, the Chatlos Foundation Endowed Chair in Nursing, is concerned with the health of minorities and of immigrants as they resettle into new homelands, including Spain, Israel and the United States.

Her major work, which was supported by a $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, has been with Arab immigrant mothers and their adolescent children. She was the principal investigator in this five-year study into how the mothers’ stress and adjustment affects her relationship with her adolescent children and, in turn, how that is related to adolescent behavior problems.

The study of 634 mothers and children yielded a rich trove of data that followed the families through early to late adolescence. “The findings identified a vicious cycle between child behavior problems and the mother-child relationship: a poor mother-child relationship leads to the child’s behavior problems but a child with behavior problems is more difficult to parent. Clearly, interventions with adolescents with behavior problems need to focus on both the mother and the child to improve the relationship between them,” she said.

A subsequent study was about the discrimination experienced by Muslim-American adolescents. She conducted that research in collaboration with the UCF Institute of Simulation and Training.

“What I found was that much of their discrimination occurs in school at the hands of their teachers,” she said. “I found some pretty horrific examples.”

Aroian was an endowed professor at Wayne State University when she was recruited for the Chatlos chair in the UCF College of Nursing in 2008. The endowment provides her money to conduct pilot studies and teach fewer classes, giving her the data and the time to prepare competitive proposals for major grants.

“It’s incredibly helpful in tight financial times,” she said.

Her research findings have provided information for clinicians and health providers to improve immigrant and minority health. “NIH is looking for studies with a strong impact on health,” she said. “As the nation’s second-largest university, it’s important that we have a strong presence, leading change with impactful studies.”

Aroian currently is working with Dr. Jason Lang at Nemours Children’s Hospital to examine how cultural and health beliefs guide families’ management of a childhood chronic illness. She is looking specifically at the Puerto Rican population, which has a high incidence of childhood asthma.

Aroian was one of 19 nurse researchers worldwide inducted last year into Sigma Theta Tau International’s Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame—further demonstrating the reach and impact her research is having in the world of health and health care. 

back to top

Impacting National Health

Dr. Joellen EdwardsJoellen Edwards, PhD, RN, FAAN

Joellen Edwards is a nationally known expert on health policy and rural health, and has a special interest in women’s health issues. Her research on health policy has been widely published over the past 20 years. In Appalachian Tennessee, Edwards was one of the leaders in establishing and continuing a long-standing network of nurse-managed clinics that now serve thousands of rural and underserved patients each year.

Her research has been widely published and a recent manuscript with colleagues on “Factors Influencing Mental Health Screening and Treatment among Women in a Rural, South Central Appalachian Primary Care Clinic” was accepted for publication in the Journal of Rural Health. The manuscript presents the results of a qualitative study from the perspective of women and their providers. As the new Hugh F. and Jeannette G. McKean Endowed Chair in Nursing at UCF, Edwards plans to continue this research and the studies of barriers and facilitators of several preventative screenings in rural Florida women.

In 2012, she was principal investigator for a funded interagency research project looking at cancer awareness, prevention and treatment in the region with the Appalachian Regional Commission and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She also was an evaluator on a funded research project for “Getting East Tennessee Women Involved in their Health through Interactive Teaching” and principal investigator on a rural health professions project funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health.

Edwards is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Rural Health and has served on several state and national committees addressing rural health issues. Edwards is also a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and was nominated for her work with rural women’s health.

back to top

Virtual Patient, Real Innovator: Simulation Expert Appointed

welch_low_ec.jpgGregory F. Welch, PhD

The College of Nursing received a $1 million grant from Florida Hospital to establish an endowed chair for health care simulation. Research professor Gregory Welch, a computer scientist and engineer, has been appointed to the position.

Mary Lou Sole, dean of the college said, “This new endowed chair underscores the College of Nursing’s commitment to becoming a national leader in developing and testing innovative technologies to enhance nursing and health care education as well as patient care delivery.”

“Dr. Welch brings significant education and experience in simulation from a culture outside of health care, and we believe he will challenge our thinking about medical simulation in all the right ways,” said Sheryl Dodds, chief clinical officer at Florida Hospital. “We feel his work will have a positive effect on both health care education and our clinical operations. We are excited to be working with Dr. Welch, UCF and other professionals as we explore new opportunities and expand the Florida Hospital approach to simulation in health care.”

Welch’s primary focus is the improvement of simulated patients that are used in the education of nurses and other health care professionals, as well as other uses of technology for patient care. His research interests include virtual and augmented reality, the capture of human movement for simulation and training, and human surrogates for training and telepresence – particularly related to health care.

The multidisciplinary nature of his appointment to allow Welch to foster collaborations between computer scientists and health care educators, practitioners and organizations so that UCF can develop the next generation of health care technology.

He brings to his appointment both a record of technological innovation – he is the co-inventor on multiple patents – and a longstanding interest in health care. While a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned his Ph.D., he led research efforts to develop three-dimensional remote health care consulting technology, allowing physicians to “look over the shoulder” and coach emergency medical personnel through necessary procedures.

Prior to academia, he worked on the Voyager Spacecraft Project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and on airborne electronic countermeasures at Northrop-Grumman's Defense Systems Division.

back to top