Dean's newsletter

Read the latest information and news from the Orvis School of Nursing in our monthly newsletter from the Dean.

February 2021 newsletter

Dear Alumni and Friends of the Orvis School of Nursing,

As we continue into the spring semester, we are busy preparing for two big events. First is the 6th Annual Mae Orvis Healthcare Symposium, which you should have received an invite to attend. More details are below. The second is for our accreditation site visit in April. Our accrediting body visits every ten years to ensure our programs are maintaining their high standards. Professor Susan Ervin has been hard at work writing our self-study and assembling examples of instruction methods and student work to demonstrate the excellence of our programs. Normally this is a multi-day on-campus visit, but this year, the accreditors will be meeting with the faculty, students, and community virtually. We will keep you updated, but you will be invited to provide comments to the accreditors as part of that process.

Hopefully the dropping COVID-19 positivity rates and vaccine distribution has brought some relief for the remainder of the winter. We know very well how challenging the fall and holiday season was, but it is reassuring to hear from our community partners that the situation is improving. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating our March event and additional achievements by our faculty and school listed below.

Mae Orvis Symposium: Healthcare Resilience

A plant representing growth

Join us on March 10 from 8:00 to 1:30 PST for the 6th Annual Mae Orvis Healthcare Symposium. This year, we are discussing Healthcare Resilience in recognition of the many changes our field has undergone this past year. Though we are meeting virtually, we hope this will still inspire robust conversation on the latest evidence-based practices to improve our practice and patient outcomes. For more details or to RSVP, please visit the Mae Orvis Healthcare Symposium webpage.

Mary Ann Lambert Nursing Scholarship Endowmentent

We are pleased to announce that Professor Mary Ann Lambert ’71, ’82 has established the Mary Ann Lambert Nursing Scholarship Endowment through a planned gift to the Orvis School of Nursing. Many of you will know Mary Ann from her 18 years of teaching at Orvis, as well as her role in founding the Orvis School of Nursing Alumni Association (OSNAA). She was instrumental in transforming the growing RN-BSN program to its online format, making it more accessible to working nurses, and was a dedicated mentor to her students. In 2013, we had the pleasure of honoring her as our Alumna of the Year.

In her own time as a nursing student, she worked three jobs while pursuing her education, so she knows first-hand the difficulties students can face trying to achieve their dreams. She then saw many students face similar challenges as a professor. Therefore, she intends this scholarship to support a student furthering their education through the RN-BSN program or making a career shift through the Accelerated Second Degree program. We are fortunate to continue to receive Mary Ann’s support for our students through this future scholarship!

“I didn’t start college with the intention of going to Nursing school and as a result, I came to Orvis as a transfer student with different experiences and more credits than most of my classmates.  That journey and working through school ultimately shaped me as a nurse and an educator. We need nurses from all walks of life, and I want to make that process a little easier for someone taking a similar path to nursing.”

Our school and our students in the news

Assistant Professor receives state award for Excellence

Dr. Cameron Duncan, Assistant Professor and PMHNP Track Leader is the recipient of The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) 2021 AANP State Award of Excellence. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding achievements by nurse practitioners (NPs) and NP advocates in each state and honors recipients annually during the AANP National Conference.

Orvis Online Master's Program ranked by U.S. News and World Report

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best online nursing school master’s programs in the country.

U.S. News analyzed more than 1,600 online bachelor's and master's degree programs. Graduate school and program ranking methodologies vary by discipline, although include expert opinions on program quality and various statistical indicators.

We continue to increase the number of programs we offer to reach the growing needs of the local community and the state. We currently offer seven master-level tracks.

Student Nursing Association starts food and supply pantry

In a 2020 climate survey completed by the students of University of Nevada, Reno, it was brought to our attention that the Nursing students of Orvis had ranked third highest in food insecurity. As an organization, OSNA recognized the need to provide and support our students in whatever they can. As a result, they formulated the food and supply pantry that provides food and supplies that are needed to meet the well-being of our student community. We are currently seeking funding and donations for the OSNA food pantry.

Newsletter archive

  • January 2021 Newsletter

    Dear Alumni and Friends of the Orvis School of Nursing,

    I hope the first month of 2021 is finding you safe and healthy. Though the effects of the pandemic are still being felt in the health care systems across Nevada and the nation, hopefully the beginning of vaccination efforts will soon bring some relief for all of us. Here at Orvis, our faculty and students have begun receiving the vaccine, most either having already received their second round or have the appointment scheduled. This will greatly assist our School in continuing to carry out our mission to educate the next generation of nurses while keeping our community healthy.

    This week marks the official start of our spring semester. Our spring cohort of 64 new nurses start their first classes, while many students continued to pursue their studies through the winter term. Our second cohort of Accelerated Second Degree students recently completed their first two classes and are now beginning the next phase of their one-year degree. As the pandemic continues, we will continue to offer the majority of classes in a remote setting to further ensure students are safe to complete their clinical rotations. I look forward to updating you on the course of this semester and new year.

    Last month, we ran a campaign asking for your support of our Accelerated Second Degree Scholarship and Annual Fund. Thank you to everyone who so generously made a gift and helped us raise $4,000. This will go a long way to help our students pursue their education goals. Thank you for your support!

    Orvis frontline staff receive the Vaccine

      

    New Acute Pediatric and Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner tracks open for fall

    We’re excited to continue to expand upon our graduate offerings with the Acute Care Pediatric and Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner tracks. Both tracks are now open for fall with an application deadline of March 1. If you’re interested in advancing your nursing skills consider the variety of graduate tracks offered by the Orvis School of Nursing.

    • Clinical nurse leader
    • Family nurse practitioner
    • Nurse educator
    • Adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioners
    • Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner

    Learn more and apply online

    Our school and our students in the news

    Nursing graduate discusses how COVID 19 has impacted her career
    Savannah Johnson, a December 2020 alumna of the Orvis School of Nursing talks with KRNV.

    Orvis student receives national scholarship honoring shooting victim
    University of Nevada, Reno student Hannah Golik, a 2018 Carson High School graduate, was named last week as a scholarship recipient by the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation of Coral Springs, Fla.

    UNR nursing program makes adjustments because of the pandemic
    KRNV reports on what has changed for nursing students during the pandemic and how clinical hours are slowly returning to normal. Alumna Stephanie Bagwell is interviewed about working during the pandemic.

  • December 2020 Newsletter

    Dear Alumni and Friends of Orvis School of Nursing,

    This year was one of the hardest years our school and our nursing community has ever had to face. In spite of ongoing challenges, we have a lot to be proud of when looking back on 2020.

    When COVID forced our classes to go remote and clinical placements to be downsized we had to get creative. Our faculty and students were flexible and understanding as we moved much of our clinical work to simulators. We were even able to purchase a birthing simulator for the school as COVID has made it so students are no longer allowed in labor and delivery rooms. Despite the challenges, we still graduated 225 graduates at the undergrad and graduate level, including our inaugural cohort of the Accelerated Second Degree Program – our one-year, intensive BSN program. We also saw incredible growth in our applications and enrollment in the RN-to-BSN and graduate programs.

    Throughout this pandemic we’ve been able to continue to train the next generation of nurses and there’s no denying how much the world needs nurses right now. Many of our alumni and colleagues have been working the frontlines since March. They’re tired, they’re burned out, but they still show up every day. We’re excited for the COVID vaccine which will hopefully bring some relief to frontline workers and our community.

    This year, the Orvis Student Nurses Association (OSNA) has stepped up to assist in these times of crises in more ways than one. They are working to support their fellow students recognizing that they are facing additional challenges by supporting Pack Provisions and building their own food pantry. We’ll have more information on the food pantry in the new year. In addition, OSNA will be assisting the Washoe County Health District to support vaccination clinics. We’re honored to represent nursing and OSN during this high-priority public health measure.

    I continue to wish you health and happiness as we head into 2021.  Stay safe and enjoy your families and I look forward to next year.

    Congratulations Class of 2020

    Nursing student graduates December 2020In early December, we celebrated the graduation of the Fall 2020 Orvis School of Nursing class. This included 62 BSN degrees, the first ASBSN cohort, 9 RN to BSN degrees and 20 DNP and MSN Degrees. Visit our convocation page below to read more about the graduates. Listen to a congratulations message from our faculty and staff on our YouTube Channel. 

    Learn about our graduates

    OSN grad accepts oncology nursing job on 5-year anniversary of being cancer-free

    haley carrol orvis school of nursing grad

    Five years ago, Haley Carroll found herself battling Burkitt's Lymphoma - a quick growing cancer that can affect the jaw, central nervous system, bowels, kidneys, ovaries, and other organs. This month, on her 5-year anniversary of being cancer free, she accepted a job as an oncology nurse for Renown.

    Read Haley's story

    Daunting challenges - medical education in Nevada

    Dean Thomas spoke with Nevada Business Magazine about the challenges facing the state, university, and health care industry in Nevada right now.

    Read story in Nevada Business Magazine

    New research published by faculty and students

    Assistant Professor Cameron Duncan alongside students Nathanael Mellum, Candie Cuneo, Doris Anukam, and Cassandra Anderson-Monroe were recently published for their research on treating patients with Histrionic Personality Disorder. Their article introduces Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) and explains its clinical features, describes a thorough assessment, discusses comorbidities and management options, and provides practice recommendations for APRNs.

    Read research article

  • November 2020 newsletter

    Dear Alumni and Friends of the Orvis School of Nursing,

    As we move into Thanksgiving Week, our country is seeing dramatic increases in COVID-19 positivity rates and our hospitals are feeling the brunt of this. For all of our alumni and friends who continue to be on the frontlines of the pandemic, everyone here at Orvis is thankful for the work you’re doing, and hope you and your families stay safe and healthy through the upcoming holiday season.

    I have some unfortunate news to share with you. We received word that a former Director of the Orvis School of Nursing, Julie Johnson, passed away in mid-September following a battle with pancreatic cancer. Julie was a professor and director with us from 1993 to 2003 before becoming Dean at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene and Kent State University College of Nursing. She had a long and distinguished nursing career, which also included service as a nurse in the Air Force and Navy Reserves. We are grateful for Julie’s many years of service to the profession, the Orvis School of Nursing, and wish her family peace and healing in these difficult times. If you would like to read more about Julie’s life, her family wrote a wonderful obituary

    Program Updates

    Nursing students doing simulation work

    As I reported last month, following Thanksgiving, all UNR classes will be moving to remote instruction to mitigate holiday-related travel. However, campus will remain open so students have access to services such as the Knowledge Center and Tutoring Center, and so that faculty and students can access critical research that cannot be done remotely. I want to confirm that Orvis will continue to have students on campus for clinical simulation in our Skills Lab. This is a critical piece of nursing education and everyone here at the University of Nevada, Reno is dedicated to ensuring our nursing students are prepared to enter the workforce, especially in these times.

    Faculty Spotlight

    Theresa Watts standing against a brick wall

    A few months ago, you may have seen an article on long-term care and COVID-19 in the Reno Gazette-Journal  written by Dr. Theresa Watts (she/her), Assistant Professor here at Orvis. I wanted to take an opportunity to share more on Dr. Watts’s background and research. Dr. Watts joined the Orvis team at the start of this year, and has a background in public health nursing and long-term care with a BSN from the State University of New York (SUNY)–Plattsburgh, a MPH from The George Washington University, and a PhD in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

    Dr. Watts’ research primarily focuses on infectious disease disparities and inequities. She has recently explored research questions pertaining to Hepatitis C Virus (Hep C) risks, testing, and prevalence. In one study, Dr. Watts and colleagues used billing codes from Wisconsin Medicaid to assess whether pregnant people were being tested for Hep C. They found between 2011-2015, only 6% of pregnancies had evidence of being tested for Hep C. At the time of the study, providers were screening for Hep C using a risk-based strategy, meaning providers would only test pregnant people who they asked about and those who disclosed Hep C risks. Dr. Watts is very pleased that the CDC is now recommending all pregnant people be tested for Hep C during every pregnancy, which will improve prenatal testing gaps. With the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting nursing facilities, Dr. Watts is now researching the disaster response and experience of nursing facility residents during the pandemic. She hopes this research will lead to improved emergency preparedness and the quality of long-term care.  

    Dr. Watts hopes to continue her infectious disease research with an interdisciplinary team and planetary health focus. Planetary health is a way of understanding how human health is interconnected to the systems that affect our humanity, environment, and societal future. By exploring infectious diseases with a planetary health focus, Dr. Watts hopes her future research will understand and repair the systems that are contributing to infectious disease disparities and inequities. We are excited to see how her research progresses on these topics.

    Orvis Nursing is on Instagram!

    We’re excited to announce our brand new Instagram page, @orvisnursing. Join us on Instagram (and our Facebook page) for news, updates, faculty and student highlights, and an inside look into the Orvis School of Nursing.

  • October 2020 newsletter

    Dear Alumni and Friends of the Orvis School of Nursing,

    As this year has progressed, there have certainly been moments where the days are feeling routine and almost normal – the new normal. And then there are moments that once again highlight how strange these times are, and last week was one of those here on campus. It was Homecoming Week, which is normally filled with joyful reunions with alumni near and far, various events, and of course a tailgate and Nevada football game. This year, it was another quiet fall week and we watched the game in the comfort of our living rooms instead of surrounded by the Wolf Pack. This will happen more as we move into the holidays and normal traditions have to be adjusted to keep us all safe and healthy. Please be safe and take care of yourself as we move into this phase of the year.

    Another change to the fall semester has also occurred that I want to update you on. I have reported to you that some of our students and faculty have contracted COVID-19 (and everyone has recovered), which is also part of a trend we’ve seen on campus. With rates increasing both on campus and in the community, President Sandoval has instructed classes to move entirely remote following Thanksgiving Break to reduce travel-based transmission. Student services such as the Knowledge Center, Tutoring Center, and Counselling Center will be open, but students are encouraged to stay home as much as possible. Winter break will also be extended a week by reallocating time off from Spring Break, but currently, we anticipate students coming back for the Spring Semester for hyflex classes.

    All but two classes have been taught remotely for Orvis, so we do not anticipate this being a major upset to our students. We are currently continuing clinical instruction as planned for the rest of the academic year. Of course, this year has required continuous adjustment and flexibility, and as we move further into the fall and cold and flu season, we are prepared to adjust our clinical plans as necessary to keep our students and faculty safe while still helping them meet their core competencies. I will keep you informed if we make further changes to this plan.

    On a more pleasant note, I am pleased to say though that as part of Homecoming, the Nevada Alumni Association held a virtual awards event and honored two Orvis alumni. Libby Kryak ’07, MSN ‘17, co-President of the Orvis School of Nursing Alumni Association, received the Alumni Association Service Award for her outstanding work with OSNAA. Dr. Derek Drake ’09, MSN ’14, DNP ‘16 was recognized as Orvis’s Alumnus of the Year. Derek is CNO at St. Francis Medical Center in Southern California and is an LOA with our DNP program. Congratulations to Libby and Derek! We appreciate your hard work and are very proud of the work you’re doing!

    Along those lines, OSNAA will be meeting soon. Please reach out if you are interested in attending and learning more about our alumni chapter. We also had our first Community Advisory Board meeting on Friday 10/9. This was an opportunity for everyone to meet and discuss the role of the Advisory Board in more detail. We will meet quarterly with our next meeting tentatively scheduled for early February.

    I hope you all are staying safe and well as we continue moving through uncertain times. 

  • September 2020 newsletter

    Dear Alumni and Friends of the Orvis School of Nursing,

    I want to begin this newsletter by wishing everyone health and safety as we move into the fall. Many of our alumni on the west coast have been threatened by wildfires and the rest of us, even on the east coast, have been impacted by the smoke. Not only that, but we continue to live in the midst of a pandemic and are headed into cold and flu season. My hope is that the mask wearing and social distancing will also limit the number of cases of flu! Please keep well and stay safe!

    On a brighter note, many of you have likely heard that the NSHE Board of Regents has selected the 17th President of the University of Nevada, Reno. We are pleased to welcome former Governor Brian Sandoval, an alumnus from the College of Liberal Arts, back to campus when he takes over for President Johnson on October 5. I personally look forward to working with him to advance the mission of the Orvis School of Nursing and our connections with the local nursing community.

    October will also see the formation of our first Community Advisory Board. I have invited eight nursing leaders from Nevada and California and representing different areas of nursing care to join a board. Not only is this a requirement for accreditation, but the role of the Advisory Board is to connect Orvis to the changing needs of the community and profession so we can best prepare our students for their chosen careers. This will be done through advising on curriculum, strategic initiatives, and supporting the development of the nursing school. I look forward hearing their ideas and bringing them into the strong network of support Orvis enjoys through the Orvis School of Nursing Alumni Association and Orvis Student Nursing Association.

    Finally, I want to provide further information on our students and their health. As I reported last month, some of our students have contracted COVID-19, and since then, we have had some new cases. I want to ensure you though that from what we can tell, the disease is not being spread on campus or in clinical settings, but through off-campus encounters. Our students and faculty have been very diligent in identifying symptoms, testing, and isolating. My understanding is that no one has become seriously ill and are recovering well or have made a full recovery. If you have questions on University policy related to COVID-19, I highly recommend the University Coronavirus page that outlines our policies for ensuring student and faculty safety.

  • August 2020 newsletter

    Dear Alumni and Friends of the Orvis School of Nursing,

    Hopefully this newsletter finds you all well and either enjoying the last few weeks of summer or having a good start to the fall semester.

    While on-campus classes were scheduled to start in Summer Session II in July using a combination of online and in-person teaching, the nursing faculty decided to err on the side of caution and continued classes using remote technologies (mostly lectures over Zoom and totally online classes). We did, however, bring students to campus for lab practice and simulation. We only allowed 4-6 students to be present for this activity, so faculty had quite a challenge with scheduling to get all the students a good experience. There were no major outbreaks of COVID on campus, but a few nursing students did contract the disease, quarantined, and finished the summer semester. Having classes via Zoom and online really made it possible for these students and those who had to quarantine because of a possible exposure to complete their courses.

    The fall semester has now just begun. We have 64 new undergraduate students beginning their first semester in the traditional 16-month program. To ensure they can be on campus for classes, we have divided them into two sections of 32 for Fundamentals and Pathophysiology/Pharmacology. We have the capability from the classroom setting to Zoom any students into class who might have a need, either because of exposure or actual COVID. We are excited to offer these new students as normal a fall semester as possible in a safe capacity.

    From the graduate program perspective, the fall brings plenty of good news. We just began our MSN Generalist, Acute Care Pediatric and Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner tracks to further meet the interests of our students and healthcare needs of the State. We admitted 95 new MSN, DNP, and post-Masters students, marking a new record of matriculating grad students.

  • July 2020 newsletter

    Dear Alumni and Friends of the Orvis School of Nursing,

    I hope you are all doing well and keeping safe and healthy as we move through the summer. These tumultuous times have continued to evolve as we not only navigate a pandemic, but also face hard discussions about systemic inequality in the country. As nurses, our job is to provide care to promote health and healing, and our country is in great need of that. Orvis will do our part to help with this process, and I know you are all working hard to do the same.

    As the Dean, I wanted to provide you an update on a few topics related to the nursing school.

    Clinicals

    At the beginning of June, we began bringing students into our Simulation Lab for small-group, in-person clinical simulation. Our community helped provide students with masks who needed them, and everyone was diligent in monitoring symptoms and cleaning between morning and afternoon groups. I am pleased to say that the hospitals are beginning to allow our students to return. We know that as this situation evolves, that may end, but every moment they can receive true, hands-on experience is incredibly valuable. We want to thank all our community partners for their help in making this happen safely.

    Preparing for Fall

    Students have started returning to campus more completely with Summer Session II and we are hopeful this will continue for the Fall Semester using the Hyflex model, where half of the class will attend call in-person, while the other attends virtually. They will then swap the next week to allow for social distancing and the benefits of classroom attendance. Masks will be worn on campus (indoors and outdoors) at all times. We are prepared to resume all distant instruction should the COVID-19 situation take another turn for the worst. We hope that diligent mask wearing measures, hand hygiene, and social distancing will allow this to go forward without any further restriction.

    Student Scholarships

    Spring scholarship decisions have been made and students have been notified about their awards. With the economic crisis and sudden changes in some of our students’ circumstances, we know this financial aid has an even greater impact than years past. I must extend my sincerest thanks to all of our scholarship providers throughout the years, who have given this support to our students. As some of our newest scholarship providers, I want to particularly recognize Donor Network West and Alta Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Donor Network West, the federally-designated organ procurement organization for Northern Nevada, partners with us for Level 3 community rotation clinical unit, and has established a scholarship endowment for undergraduate students to further support student nurses. Alta Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center reached out at the beginning of this crisis, inspired by the Orvis students working as CNAs at their facility, to offer scholarship support and establish an endowment. I know many of you have also contributed further to your scholarships to ensure a scholarship was awarded, established planned gifts for students yet to come, or provided support to other areas of Orvis, and I thank you all for that.