Two Orvis School of Nursing faculty have been inducted as fellows into the American Academy of Nursing, considered one of the highest honors in the nursing profession.
Wei-Chen Tung and Lisa Thomas were honored as two of Nevada's newest fellows at an induction ceremony last month in Washington, DC.
The academy's 2,500 fellows represent nursing's most accomplished leaders in education management, practice and research and represent association executives, university presidents, chancellors and deans, hospital executives, nurse consultants and researchers nationally and internationally.
The self-nomination process for induction is both rigorous and thorough, requiring letters of recommendations from two academy members, a significant body of work and contributions to the nursing profession over the course of a career. Only about half of those who apply annually are accepted. With the induction of Tung and Thomas, and two nursing faculty from UNLV this year, Nevada now has 12 fellows in the academy.
Both Tung and Thomas were deeply honored to learn they had been inducted and look forward to engaging with other health leaders inside and outside the academy to help transform America's health system. The academy works to that end by enhancing quality of health and nursing care, promoting healthy aging and human development throughout life, reducing health disparities, shaping healthy behaviors and strengthening the nursing and health delivery system across the globe.
As new fellows, both Tung and Thomas will participate in one of the academy's expert panels; Tung has chosen the global nursing and health expert panel while Thomas will join the quality health care panel. Other panel topics include LGBTQ health, health care worker and patient safety and preventing blood-borne pathogens in nursing students, among others.
Tung, an associate professor, said the honor means she will be responsible for helping other nursing professionals be successful. She expects to be able to contribute further to the profession on the national and international levels.
"I will start with my colleagues and students here at Orvis. I also made an offer to help the Washoe County Health Department and reached out to my colleagues in Taiwan," she said, adding that she will serve as a mentor to those working with minority populations to decrease health disparities.
Tung has been working with vulnerable populations to understand their health behaviors and cultural health issues throughout her career. Her research focuses on HIV prevention and cervical cancer screening, particularly in applying the Transtheoretical Model to Chinese college students, international students, Asian women and Latina women. This research has developed theory- and evidence-based interventions which have promoted condom use intention and empowered women with condom use negotiation skills among Chinese college students in the U.S., China and Taiwan. Tung's publications on behavior changes have contributed to others' curriculum nationally and internationally and her columns on cultural diversity discussions have been used by different disciplines worldwide to enhance understanding of diverse cultural beliefs and practices.
Thomas, also an associate professor at the Orvis School of Nursing, said she was "overwhelmed, humbled, shocked and surprised" upon learning of her induction which she had always considered as a bookend to a nursing career.
"I was beyond honored," she said, adding that going forward, membership in the academy will "give me access to the best world thought-leaders in health care" and allow her the opportunity to partner with them on research, since the academy and her research are both policy focused.
Thomas' nursing career has spanned a quarter century and encompassed clinical practice, policy leadership and academic roles. She was one of the first, and remains one of the only, registered nurses worldwide to speak publicly and advocate widely for safer needle alternatives. Her subsequent accomplishments in health policy advocacy have directly contributed to multiple state, national and international initiatives that protect frontline healthcare workers from occupational blood-borne pathogen exposure. Her current program of research takes place at the student-faculty interface to further understand how healthcare worker safety efforts can be better-implemented during the early training of student nurses in the United States.