VCU School of Nursing receives grant to explore effect of yoga on depression during pregnancy

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a grant to the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing for a pilot study that will examine how motivational interviewing and prenatal yoga might reduce or prevent depression during and after pregnancy.

Patricia Kinser, Ph.D.(B.S’03/N;M.S.’04/N), assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Health Nursing, received the two-year, $456,579 grant for her project “Self-Management of Chronic Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy.”

“Nearly 20 percent of pregnant women experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy and 13 percent experience chronic, recurrent symptoms,” said Kinser, whose research focuses on stress and depression in women and their families.

Depressive symptoms may significantly threaten a pregnant woman’s well-being. In February, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government-appointed health panel, recommended that pregnant and post-pregnant women receive depression screenings.

“Appropriate treatment of depressive symptoms in pregnancy is essential, yet many women find the typical treatments such as antidepressant medications and psychotherapy insufficient to address their symptoms,” Kinser said, adding that women are often concerned about the stigma and cost of drugs and the possible side effects on themselves or their babies.

“Pregnant women are in great need of safe, inexpensive self-management therapies to enhance their well-being, reduce the burden of symptoms during and after pregnancy and prevent chronic reoccurrence of depression,” Kinser said.

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VCU School of Nursing names new chair of Department of Adult Health and Nursing

Beth Rodgers, Ph.D.

Beth Rodgers, Ph.D.

Virginia Commonwealth University today appointed Beth Rodgers, Ph.D., as professor and chair of the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems in the School of Nursing. Rodgers previously served as professor and research chair at the University of New Mexico School of Nursing. She has been a prominent scholar, consultant and nursing educator for more than three decades, having served most of her career in various leadership positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing.

“We are thrilled that a highly talented nurse leader of Beth’s caliber is joining our leadership team,” said Jean Giddens, Ph.D., professor and dean of the School of Nursing. “Her innovative scholarly work and research, as well as her leadership experience will complement the great work underway at our school.”

Rodgers is widely known for her work in qualitative and mixed methods research with adults experiencing chronic illness, major life change and obstructive sleep apnea. She has consulted extensively on Ph.D. nursing education and for faculty development related to philosophy, theory and scholarly thinking throughout the curriculum. She serves on numerous editorial and grant review boards and was a member of the Sleep Apnea Patient Advisory committee of the federally funded Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

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VCU School of Nursing student and alumna selected as a Jonas Scholar


Christina Wilson

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing announced that Christina Wilson, RN, WHNP-BC (M.S.’13/N), a Ph.D. student, was selected for the highly competitive Jonas Nurse Leader Scholars Program of the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare. She is one of 425 doctoral students nationwide chosen for the 2016-2018 cohort.

The mission of the Jonas Scholar program is to increase the number of doctorally prepared faculty available to teach in nursing schools nationwide and the number of nurse leaders providing direct patient care and filling roles as clinical faculty. Sponsored by the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, the program provides financial assistance, leadership development and networking support to expand the pipeline of future nurse faculty and advanced practice nurses.

As a Jonas Scholar, Wilson will receive a $10,000 scholarship, matched by the VCU School of Nursing, to support her doctoral studies. She joins more than 1,000 future nurse educators and leaders at 140 universities across all 50 states supported by Jonas Center programs, the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholars Program and Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program (JVHP). These scholarships support nurses pursuing Ph.D.s and DNPs, the terminal degrees in the field, as part of a national effort to stem the faculty shortage and prepare the next generation of nurses, which is critical as a clinical nurse shortage is anticipated just as an aging population requires care.

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New center at the School of Nursing emphasizes quality, safety and innovation

Langston Center namesake Nancy Langston, Ph.D., rises during a standing ovation recognizing her for the 22 years that she served as dean of the VCU School of Nursing.

Langston Center namesake Nancy Langston, Ph.D., rises during a standing ovation recognizing her for the 22 years that she served as dean of the VCU School of Nursing.

During a presentation at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing last week, American Academy of Nursing immediate past president Diana Mason, Ph.D., challenged attendees to envision a health care model that puts patient safety and quality care at the forefront.

“We have to redefine what we mean by health care and focus on improving the quality and safety of essential services,” Mason said. “The organizational culture and ethics of the health system are the keys to providers being able to live up to the expectations of patient-centered care.”

Mason was speaking at the grand opening of the Langston Center for Quality, Safety and Innovation, a new center housed within the School of Nursing that promotes patient-centered, population-focused and cost-effective quality and safety initiatives designed to improve health care. She said the new center at VCU exemplifies the innovative model of care she described. “The Langston Center is on the right track,” Mason said. “I see innovation and vision in its goals and I think it can be a leader for the rest of the nation.”

Nearly 100 people representing both VCU campuses and the health system attended the event that marked the official launch of the center. Seated in the middle of the auditorium was Nancy Langston, Ph.D., the former dean of the School of Nursing for whom the center is named.

“The Langston Center is dedicated to providing education, activities and resources that foster patient-centered and quality health care that is safe, collaborative and cost-effective,” said School of Nursing Dean Jean Giddens, Ph.D., adding that the opening event was a historic occurrence for the school. “Although the center is housed within the School of Nursing, it really serves as a hub for work associated with quality and safety for the entire university and the VCU Health System.”

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Nursing postcard collection featured at VCU Libraries


The Kay Seidenberg Nursing Postcard Collection consists of American and European postcards relating to the nursing profession. Kay Seidenberg (B.S.‘85/N) began collecting postcards shortly after embarking on her nursing career. At first she was more of a generalist in her collecting, but she gradually began to acquire nursing related cards.

While building her collection she learned about Edith Cavell, an English nurse who was executed by the Germans in 1915 for assisting Allied soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium. The “Edith Cavell: A Nurse Who Did Her Duty,” at VCU Libraries’ Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, is now on exhibit and will run through Feb. 5, 2016.

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VCU receives NIH grant to explore self-managing exercises in sickle cell anemia patients

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Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D.

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $250,000 grant to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing for a study that is the first to examine improved approaches to self-managing exercises in adolescents and young adults with sickle cell anemia.

Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Nursing’s Department of Family and Community Health Nursing, received the two-year NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant for her project, titled “Subjective Responses and Metabolic State During Exercise in Sickle Cell Anemia.”

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic, life-limiting disease in which chronic anemia, sickled red blood cells, and inflammation cause debilitating pain and fatigue, as well as long-term complications to bodily organs. In the United States, the disease affects up to 100,000 people, primarily African-Americans. Globally, it affects millions, and the number of infants born with sickle cell anemia is expected to increase by approximately 30 percent by 2050 according to a study published in the weekly medical journal PLOS Medicine.

Individuals with sickle cell anemia tend to be less active and fit than healthy peers. Thus they are at a greater risk for poorer health outcomes including obesity and cardiovascular problems, Ameringer said.

“They have difficulty self-managing their exercise regimen because existing exercise guidelines focus only on how to avoid potential complications,” she said. “There are no guidelines on how to safely and effectively improve fitness or exercise capacity.”

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Dean Giddens receives high honor

Jean Giddens, Ph.D., RN

Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, Ph.D., awarded the VCU Medallion for Endowed Chair honors to Jean Giddens, Ph.D., RN, dean of the School of Nursing, at the School of Nursing’s annual convocation for faculty and staff in August.

Giddens was recognized for her appointment as the Doris B. Yingling Endowed Chair. An endowed chair is an honor to the named holder of the appointment and also an enduring tribute to the donor who established it.

A nationally recognized expert in nursing education, curricula and evaluation, Giddens joined the School of Nursing in July 2013. A Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Nurse Executive Fellow alumna, she is the author of numerous journal articles, nursing textbooks and electronic media in nursing education. Giddens is widely recognized for creating innovative teaching and learning models in nursing sciences, including The Neighborhood, a Web-based virtual community used to enhance integrative approaches in nursing education.

VCU receives $2.5 million grant for interprofessional geriatrics training

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Edward Ansello, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration recently awarded $2.5 million to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Allied Health Professions’ Virginia Center on Aging to fund initiatives that introduce geriatric health care into primary care settings. VCoA directs the Virginia Geriatric Education Center, a consortium of VCU, the University of Virginia, and Eastern Virginia Medical School. The funds will be used to improve the health and well-being of elders statewide, with a focus on regions that are medically underserved or face a shortage of health professionals.

The VGEC started in July 2010 with a $2.2 million HRSA grant meant to address the simultaneous aging of Virginia’s population and the shortage of health care professionals who are trained in geriatrics.

The current grant supports interprofessional geriatrics training for aspiring and practicing professionals with a focus on dementia care and falls prevention. Trainees include professional health care providers, residents, interns, students, academic faculty members, direct care workers, older adults and their families and caregivers.

The project staff includes faculty and staff from VCU’s Schools of Allied Health Professions, MedicineNursingPharmacy, and Social Work, as well as faculty and staff from these and other disciplines at UVA and EVMS.

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Beginning at the bedside: Nurse residency program shepherds new graduates from student to expert

Katherine Houston talks with Wilbur Talley, 62, of Henrico County, who is being treated for pancreatic cancer at VCU Medical Center. Photo by Thomas Kojcsich, VCU University Marketing

As a nursing resident at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Katherine Houston attended a lecture by Shelly Brown, forensic nurse examiner in the VCU emergency department. Brown spoke to the room of new nurses about the importance of screening and education for intimate partner violence. Houston, who graduated from the VCU School of Nursing in December 2013, had been working as a clinical nurse in the acute care medicine unit for almost a year when she attended the lecture. Brown’s presentation sparked an idea.

“Even though the emergency department was doing a three-question screening, none of it was being transferred to the patients’ medical records,” Houston said. At the time, the only other unit with an intimate partner violence screening tool was in labor and delivery. Working on a floor of the hospital that saw everything from chronic pain issues to suicide attempts, Houston determined that she could improve the quality of care for her patients by implementing a universal intimate partner violence screening tool in the acute care unit.

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School of Nursing honors two retiring professors with research endowment fund

Mary Jo Grap, Ph.D.; Nancy Langston, Ph.D.; Jean Giddens, Ph.D.; and Nancy McCain, Ph.D.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing recently held a celebration to kick off a fundraising campaign for a new research endowment fund named in honor of two retiring distinguished professors.

More than 75 faculty, staff, alumni and friends were on hand at The 2300 Club in Richmond to honor Nancy McCain, Ph.D., Nursing Alumni Distinguished Professor, and Mary Jo Grap, Ph.D., Nursing Alumni Distinguished Professor, for 20 and 31 years of service to the school, respectively.

The school established the McCain-Grap Research Endowment Fund in honor of their outstanding careers and impact on the school’s research program. Both professors were a part of a team of pioneers who helped establish and elevate the School of Nursing’s biobehavioral research program into one of the top among nursing schools nationwide.

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