Meet Our PhD Students
Olga Abiri, MSN, RNC-MNN, C-EFM, is a fourth year PhD student. Her research interest is nurse-physician collaboration and patient safety in the Labor and Delivery arena. She has been a registered nurse for 15 years and is currently employed at Broward Health Coral Springs. In her role as the Nurse Manager, her responsibilities include overseeing the Mother/Baby and Labor and Delivery units. She is also adjunct faculty with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Florida International University (FIU) where she enjoys teaching obstetrical clinical rotations to future nurses. Olga received her BSN in 2005 from Tel-Aviv University, Israel and her MSN from FAU in 2010. Olga holds national certifications in maternal newborn nursing and electronic fetal monitoring. Olga has presented posters on Hypertensive Emergencies in Pregnancy at Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative and Association of Women’s Health and Neonatal Nurses state conferences.
Natalie Bermudez, MSNed, RN, PCCN, is a third-year part-time PhD student. Her current area of research interest is related to morality, moral agency, and autonomy in decision-making of the direct care nurse. She has been a registered nurse for 16 years and is currently employed as the Lead Clinical Nurse Educator at Bethesda Hospital East. As a PhD student, she is looking forward to becoming an effective researcher, but her greatest passion is for teaching her nurse colleagues. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Iota Xi Chapter, and is a Regional Chapter Advisor for the State of Florida for the American Association for Critical Care Nurses (AACN). Most recently, she has become a member of the American Nurses Association in an effort to become more involved in nursing politics, policy-making, and ethics.
Cheryl Birmingham is currently a Clinical Specialist/Orthopedic Program Coordinator at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Cheryl's professional responsibilities include assessment of staff education needs, training and development of the interprofessional team and continuous monitoring of safety and quality standards set by external regulatory agencies. Cheryl received her BSN from FIU in 1991 and her MSN from FAU in 2008. She is certified as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and a Board Certified Nurse Executive. Cheryl’s poster presentation topics include: nursing research, transforming a culture, employee engagement, pressure injury best practices, alarm fatigue and ARNP lead intensivist program. Her oral presentations include: patient family centered care, hypothermia, nursing research and family support groups. She is pursuing her passion for research in the PhD program. Her area of research is focused on the Veteran population, their participation with Veteran’s Service Organizations and the relationship it has with their well-being. The investigation proposed will further define what well-being means to Veterans and the phenomenon precision well-being. Cheryl was nominated for the Jonas Scholarship in Spring of 2018.
Raquel Brown is a PhD student at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University where she is also a teaching assistant and clinical instructor. She earned her diploma in nursing at the University Hospital of the West Indies School of Nursing. After further studies and working in diverse settings she went on to earn her Master of Science in Nursing with a major in education. She feels privileged to have had her Master’s thesis published in The Jamaican Nurse, the journal of the Jamaican Nurses Association.
As a PhD student she has worked with experienced researchers as she engaged in directed independent studies. She participated in a federally funded study with older adults collecting and entering data. In 2014 she was a recipient of the Gertrude E. Skelly Foundation stipend as well as the Cross Country scholarship. In 2016 she received the Jonas Scholarship.
Raquel appreciates being mentored by scholars who live caring. She looks forward to influencing nursing as much as she herself has been influenced. As a nurse scholar she proposes to explore factors contributing to the decision to use herbal modalities in the Caribbean-American population in South Florida.
Kathleen Cappo MSN, RN, CNE is PhD student at Florida Atlantic University since 2014. She started out as a medical assistant right of high school 1981 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, then LPN in 1988, practicing mainly in medical offices in Boca Raton where her love of the older adult sparked. After moving to Avon Park, Florida she earned her Associate Degree in Nursing at South Florida Community College in 1999. Continuing explore her passion for the older adult working in step down rehab center. She completed a bridge program ADN to Masters in Nursing Science and Bachelors in Nursing 2006 at the University of South Florida. While working on her Masters she accepted a position as a full time nursing faculty at South Florida State College in Avon Park, Florida in 2003, finding a second love, nursing education. Since then taught undergraduate programs such as Practical Nursing, Associate Degree Program and currently in a new cohort of RN-BSN Nursing Program since 2015. She obtained the Certificate of Nursing Education in 2012. She was the recipient of the Endowed Chair 2012 from South Florida State College for her work in competency tracking. Kathleen’s interest in research focus is the community-dwelling older adults and their experiences with others through meaningful engagements to co-create a sense of belonging and wellness. She knows her passion for Caring Science and Gerotranscendence will guide her dissertation research focus. She believes Florida Atlantic University is the best fit for her to be successful, guided by the Dance of Caring. She is dedicated in her studies and the work to advance Caring Science and was honored to have attended Ann Boykin Institute Summer Academy for Caring Science for the past two years.
Linda Cassidy is an Acute/Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist. She currently works for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and serves as a Clinical Practice Specialist on the AACN Strategic Advocacy Team. Previously, she held the position of Director of Clinical Practice, Associate Training and Development, Nursing Research and the Magnet Program at Holy Cross Hospital. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Psychology from Southeastern Massachusetts University, a Master of Education Degree from Harvard University, and a Master of Nursing Degree from Duquesne University. Linda has earned her CCNS and CCRN-K certifications.
Linda is currently a PhD student and her research interest is healthy work environments and the impact on nurse caring and patient outcomes. When not working or in school, Linda loves to be outdoors especially near, on, or below the ocean.
Katherine Chadwell, DNP, ARNP, GNP-BC, GCNS, CPHQ is an Associate Professor and teaches both at the graduate and undergraduate level. She is trained in primary care, acute care, and long term care as a geriatric NP/CNS. During her tenure in clinical practice, she worked in the intensive care unit, served as the clinical specialist for an open heart surgery program, and practiced as a CNS/ARNP at a local hospital, where she worked on improving quality of care and clinical nursing practice, particularly around the care of older adults. Her research focuses on safer sexual practices related to HIV, STD’s, substance abuse, and hepatitis. Dr. Chadwell has been funded by SAMHSA and OHAIDP and served as the project director for a successful HIV prevention program on a college campus. In addition, she is the President of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Broward County Chapter and is recognized by both Sigma Theta Tau International and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. As a PhD student her research interest is focused on genomic and epigenetic factors in postmenopausal women that may contribute to neurocognitive decline and aging.
Lea Crestodina is the Clinical Manager for wound care at Memorial Regional Hospital. She is an Advanced Practice Certified Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse and a Certified Diabetes Educator. Experienced in acute care, home care, outpatient care, education, and long term care. Her nursing career has spanned 30 years. Lea began as an ADN graduate from Broward Community College (now Broward College), attained her BSN from FIU and her Master’s degree from FAU. Currently, Lea is a PhD student. Her employers have included the North Broward Hospital District (now Broward Health), Emory University, and the Memorial Health Care System.
Lea is a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the Wound, Ostomy, & Continence Nurse’s Society. She has served as the chair of the Exam Committee of the Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nursing Certification Board. She is currently a member of the Guidelines Taskforce for WOCN. This task force has recently updated the Guidelines for Pressure Ulcer (Injury) Prevention and Treatment. These guidelines were accepted by the AHRQ’s National Guideline Clearinghouse.
Lea’s research interests include perfusion and pressure injury development, health liminality during the first 6 months following ostomy surgery and compliance with diabetic regimens.
Deborah Elkins grew up in Virginia and received a BSN from Radford University, a MBA from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a MSN from FAU and a DNP from Chatham University. She was a National Health Service Corps scholar recipient while in the NP program at FAU. Deborah is a board certified family nurse practitioner. Her professional clinical nursing career has included practice in med-surg, corrections, the ICU, primary care, migrant farmworker clinics, wound care, home health and retail clinics. She has taught undergraduate nursing courses at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing as adjunct faculty while pursuing her PhD at FAU. Deborah has co-authored with her mentor, Dr. Ruth Tappen, several peer-reviewed articles in national nursing journals and given podium presentations at SNRS and GSA. Her interests include gerontology, public policy and healthy aging. Deborah’s dissertation research explores the knowledge, attitudes and predictors of behavior of shingles vaccination in community-dwelling older adults in south Florida.
Norma Patrecia Forbes
Norma Forbes’s MSN, BSN, RN employers have included Sheridan Technical College, Keiser University, and Dade Medical College, where she taught undergraduate students in the clinical setting. She worked at Kindred Hospital as a Clinical Manager/Supervisor for three and a half years, and is current adjunct faculty with Florida International University. Her professional clinical nursing career has included practice in Labor & Delivery Postpartum Care, Medical-Surgical, and NICU within the Memorial Healthcare System. For 8 years she has anchored her practice in Medical Surgical nursing. Ms. Forbes is truly a veteran of FAU completing her BSN (graduated Magna Cum Laude) in 2004, and MSN in 2007. Her research interest focuses on the prevention of frequent hospitalization from continued pressure ulcer/injury development in vulnerable populations.
Sandra Gall-Ojurongbe, MSN, RN is currently an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Over the past 25 years her journey along the path of nursing included several areas of nursing practice. However, for the last 16 years of that journey she has anchored her practice in mental health.
Ms. Gall-Ojurongbe is truly a veteran of FAU completing her BSN in 1997, MSN in 2011 and is currently in the PhD program also at FAU. Last Fall she was awarded a pre-doctoral minority fellowship from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) with the American Nurses Association (ANA). Her research focuses on mental health disparities in the Afro-Caribbean community. Of particular interest to Ms. Gall-Ojurongbe is the prevalence of psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia, in the Afro-Caribbean population as a possible stress-related response to immigration in at risk individuals.
J. Garrido has had a distinguished 26-year career as a Captain and advanced practice nurse in the United States Public Health Service. J., at the request of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, created and developed a one of a kind Special Operation Medical Program, led by nurses providing advanced practice care, which encompasses three major programs: aviation medicine, tactical medicine, and shipboard medicine.
The success of the Special Operations Medical Program, which established a health care benchmark in a unique clinical environment, was recognized by the Assistant Secretary of Health (ASH) and the U.S. Surgeon General.
J. received his BSN and MSN from Florida International University and his DNP from Florida Atlantic University. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and American Academy of Nursing. He is a board certified adult nurse practitioner, adjunct faculty at FAU, and a healthcare consultant.
J.’s research interest is on vulnerable populations. He worked as a site project director, from 2014 - 2015, on an NIH R15 grant, titled, “Effect of Sit ‘N’ Fit Chair Yoga on Community-Dwelling Elders with Osteoarthritis”.
Angelica C. Hernandez
Angelica C. Hernandez is a nursing PhD student. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Far Eastern University-Manila, Philippines in 2009 and her Master’s Degree in Nursing with an emphasis in Nursing Education from Grand Canyon University-Phoenix, Arizona in 2014.
Angelica has been a registered nurse for more than 7 years. Her clinical expertise focuses on cardiovascular critical care nursing and renal replacement therapy. She is currently employed as a full-time nursing faculty in Keiser University-Miami Campus and as a CVICU nurse (per diem) in Broward Health Medical Center. As a PhD student, Angelica’s research focus is to investigate the patients’ perception of quality caring in a critical care setting across different cultures. Angelica is looking forward to become a nurse scientist, but her greatest passion is honing and teaching nursing students, for them to become a safe and effective nurses.
Angelica is a member of American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), National League of Nursing, Graduate Professional Student Association in Florida Atlantic University, Policy and Procedure Committee of Keiser University-Miami Campus, Nursing Pharmacology Committee of Keiser University-Miami Campus, Course Coordinator of Advanced Adult Health and a Course Coordinator of Nursing Pharmacology in Keiser University-Miami Campus.
Candice Hickman, MSN, RN, is a Clinical Educator and the Simulation Coordinator at Boca Raton Regional Hospital (BRRH) in Boca Raton, Florida. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. Candice received her BSN from Florida State University in 1994, and her MSN from Nova Southeastern University in 2007. Candice has published on the use of simulation in nursing education, and on the application of caring theory in acute care nursing. She frequently presents at nursing conferences on topics related to nursing education, promotion of patient safety through simulation, and delirium prevention in hospitalized patients. Candice’s research interest is the prevention of delirium in hospitalized older adults. Her dissertation title is The Effect of a Patient-Centered, Caring-Based Delirium Prevention Intervention in Orthopedic Surgical Patients.
Kelley Jackson, MSN, ARNP, began her Ph.D. in fall 2016 at Florida Atlantic University. She graduated from Michigan State University with her bachelor’s (1996) and master’s (2002) degrees in nursing; and she is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, practicing nursing for over 20 years. She has held clinical, educational, and pharmaceutical positions with a focus on Cardiology, Pulmonology, and Cosmetic Surgery. Currently, she works for UnitedHealthcare serving two national accounts as their corporate wellness nurse liaison. She connects employees to the tools and resources available for preventive care and chronic condition management. In addition, she leads a network of national wellness champions toward creating a culture of health and wellness in the workplace. Kelley is an active member of the South Florida Council of Advanced Practice Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau, Southern Nursing Research Society, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red for Broward County. In 2016, she received the Florida Atlantic University’s Provost Fellowship Scholarship, and the Barbara Lumpkin Scholarship. During her undergraduate and graduate studies, she received Michigan State University’s Nursing Scholarship, and the Borgess Medical Center’s Service League Scholarship. Kelley’s phenomenon of interest is studying the positive impacts of nutrition for health promotion and disease management.
Ayse Malatyali Kaltsas is a third year BSN to PhD student with a research focus in epigenetics of cognition and aging. Her 25 years of work experience covers various healthcare settings including general surgery, neonatal intensive care, staff development, project management and healthcare finance. She earned her BSN degree from Istanbul University, Florence Nightingale College of Nursing, and her MBA degree from Florida Atlantic University, College of Business.
Ayse has been awarded the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare Scholarship, Florida Nurses Foundation Award and Helen Schoeff Nursing Scholarship. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International-Chapter Iota Xi, Southern Nursing Research Society, International Association for Human Caring, Florida Nurses Association and Medical Reserve Corps of Palm Beach County.
Mary Ann Leavitt, MS, RN, CCRN-K, CHFN, received her BSN from Florida State University. She completed her MSN in Nursing Education from Florida Atlantic University in 2013. She has practiced for over 20 years in the fields of Critical Care, Cardiac Cath Lab and Electrophysiology. Caring for patients with heart failure increased her awareness of the problem of frequent hospital admissions for patients with this diagnosis. This led to her research interest in the transition of these patients from hospital to home with the goal of decreasing readmissions utilizing the role of the Heart Failure Nurse Navigator. Mary Ann has been the recipient of the Provost Fellowship, the Gertrude E, Skelly stipend, the Graduate Research and Inquiry Program (GRIP) Grant, the Dissertation Year Award, and the Sigma Theta Tau International Research Grant. She is currently a Clinical Educator at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the College of Nursing, and a member of Sigma Theta Tau International nursing honorary.
Laurie Martinez is a full-time PhD student and teaching assistant at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. She started out as a radiographer and later earned her BSN at the University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut. After moving to Maryland, she earned dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration (MSN/MBA) degrees at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. She is currently the administrator of a thriving radiology practice in South Florida.
Laurie’s research interest involves adolescents with food allergies and food sensitivities – the stigma that comes with them and developing stigma resilience. Outside of school and work, Laurie loves spending time with her family, being outdoors, and running marathons.
Christine Moffa, MS, RN, has over 20 years of experience as a nurse. Her areas of clinical practice include pediatrics and women's health. She obtained a Master's in Nursing Education from NYU in 2007. She is currently a nurse educator at St. Mary’s Medical Center and a freelance clinical editor for the American Journal of Nursing. Her research areas of interest include social justice, healthy work environments, and workplace mistreatment. She founded the College of Nursing Student Council and College of Nursing Student Organization (CONSO) at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. Her awards and scholarships include the Presidential Fellowship, Lost Tree Scholarship, FNA scholarship, and PhD Student Leadership award. She loves animals and volunteers for the Humane Society.
Misa Nagata, RN, HNP, MA, APHN-BC, CCRN, is a holistic and integrative nurse practitioner in private practice and a surgical/trauma level-one critical care nurse in New York City. She is a graduate of New York University in both bachelor and master’s degrees, originally enrolled as an internationally transferred student from Tokyo, Japan. Since graduation, she has been certified in the following areas: CCRN (adult acute and critical care nursing) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, AHN-BC (board-certified advanced holistic nurse) and APHN-BC (board-certified advanced practice holistic nurse) from the American Holistic Nurses Association for almost a decade. She is enrolled as a full-time PhD student at FAU, and she received a Presidential Fellowship Award in fall 2015. Her research focus on dichotomous holistic-and-critical nursing experiences has now mutually developed into a concept, nature immersion. Growing up in her parents’ organic garden in Tokyo influenced her lifelong curiosity about human lived experiences in immersing with nature in urban areas. Her research area of interest in nature immersion includes: the impacts of urban farming, gardening, canine visitation, forest bathing and basking on human adults and children’s health, healing, and well-being.
Elizabeth Olafson, MSN, MSEd, RN, is currently the Director of Clinical Education and an Assistant Clinical Professor at Florida International University’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Elizabeth has over thirty years of experience in nursing practice including clinical, educational, and administrative roles. She earned her BSN and MSEd from the University of Miami and her MS in Nursing Education from Florida Atlantic University. Her research interest is in end of life caregivers focusing currently on parental decision making for their children who have been referred to pediatric palliative care. She has received $1,250 in grant funding from the Florida Nurses Foundation for her dissertation work in pediatric palliative care and is currently conducting her research. Elizabeth Olafson is affiliated with The American Nurses Association, The Florida Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, Southern Nursing Research Society, and The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.
Manika Petcharat is a full-time nursing PhD student who is originally from Thailand. She is an enthusiastic person who is passionate about developing nursing knowledge though research. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from her country; her major was mental health and psychiatric nursing. She is also a faculty member in the nursing school at Naresuan University, Thailand. Prior to starting her PhD studies, she taught mental health and psychiatric nursing classes for almost four years.
Her research interest is focused on mental health issues for parents who have children with special needs. These parents often suffer from the effect of their children’s disabilities, experiencing emotional distress, behavioral changes, or social disruption; their parenting abilities may be adversely affected. She is also interested in mindfulness as an approach to assist them in overcoming challenging issues associated with having a child with special needs.
Suzanne Pinos has been an instructor in the nursing department at Palm Beach State College for over a year, managing the Patient Care Assistant Program, as well as teaching simulation with nursing students. She worked as a Telemetry Nurse at West Boca Medical Center prior to her teaching career at Palm Beach State. Before discovering her passion for nursing, Suzanne pursued her first degree in accounting, and worked in the financial/business sectors. Dissatisfied with her career, she decided to return to her first love, helping others, and returned to school for a degree in Nursing. A huge proponent of education, Suzanne earned her Master’s degree in Nursing Education in December 2016 at Florida Atlantic University, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Nursing. While earning her graduate degree, she worked as a Research Assistant and held an integral role in several research projects. She is a co-author to an article published in the October 2016 issue of Psychiatric Nursing, entitled: “Stress in persons with dementia: benefits of a memory center day program”. Currently, Suzanne is sitting as interim president of the newly established Palm Beach County chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).
Bandana Neupane Poudel is an International student from Nepal. She is in her second year in the BSN to PHD program. Bandana is also doing a research assistantship at the College of Nursing. Bandana did her BSN at B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Nepal. After her BSN, she taught in the Manipal College of Medical Sciences Nursing Program for about three and half years. She taught Fundamentals of Nursing, Maternal Health Nursing and Integrated Science to Proficiency Certificate Level and BSN students. Bandana also guided and supervised the students in medical-surgical units, orthopedic units and community field postings. She also has one year of experience of wardenship in the nursing hostel of Maipal College of Medical Sciences.
Bandana has a passion for teaching. After graduation, she is planning to pursue a career as a nursing faculty and a researcher in the States. She has experience working on various federally-funded research projects, manipulating databases, conducting univariate and multivariate analyses and creating interpretation with APA formatted tables. Her current research focuses primarily on exploration of the lived experience of older adults from remote areas on their socio-economic and emotional aging with the investigation of cause-effect-relationships influencing our perceptions and our well-being.
Stacey Ravid, RN, MSN, CNS has had an extraordinary nursing career, spanning over twenty years. Her research area is Intractable Pain in Hospice and Palliative Patients. She is adjunct faculty at Christine E. Lynne CON, teaching BSN students. In 2011, she graduated with a Master’s Degree as a Clinical Nurse Specialist.
For most of her career, she focused on hospice and emergency nursing. She was also a Geriatric Care Manager, responsible for sixty patients, and the continuing education of seventy CNA’s, creating curriculums and teaching courses to them.
Stacey strongly believes in the benefits of traditional and alternative healing modalities. She trained in the field of alternative medicine, completing many courses including; Healing Foods, Detoxification, Touch Therapy, and Holistic Women’s Health. With this knowledge, she helped a village in Ethiopia grow Super Foods with minimal water.
She was awarded the following honors: High School Valedictorian, President of the Student Council, Dean’s List, Northside Hospital Excellence Service Award, and Graduate of High Distinction.
As Stacey pursues a long and fulfilling nursing career in the healing arts, she hopes to teach nursing students, and continue research that will have a positive impact on the health and well-being of many individuals.
Seana Reid entered into Florida Atlantic University’s PhD in Nursing Program Fall of 2016. She is from Jamaica and was raised in Toronto, Canada. Seana graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barry University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing Program, obtained her Master’s degree at Florida International University and has 15 years of nursing experience in CVICU and Cardiac Cath. Lab.
Seana continues her love of education in one of Florida’s hospital corporations. She is the Division Educator and manages programs and training tools for hospitals within the Broward Market. She recently organized a “Day of Learning Symposium” for 2017. Prior to this, Seana was the Sepsis Program Coordinator. This role allowed her to stay current within the clinical and administrative sector.
Seana aspires to become a researcher and educator, giving back to the nursing community. Her focus is the Changing Environment of Healthcare, as it relates to technological advancements and redefining care. Technology is a constantly evolving part of patient care. Seana participated in a pilot program at one S. Florida’s hospital as they prepared for a new patient monitoring system. The perceptions of staff and patients from the preliminary introductions to its full integration peaked her interest.
Carol Reive was born in Canada and started her nursing studies in Montreal. She moved to California where she graduated from Palomar College in San Marcos. During her early career she worked as a Trauma, Open-heart and Neuro ICU nurse at Scripps La Jolla, and later in Florida as an Open- Heart CVICU and ER nurse. While working Carol pursued her education receiving both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing from FAU, and she is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Iota Xi chapter. Since 2001 she has worked as an Emergency Room and Urgent care Nurse Practitioner in multiple hospitals and several private clinics. She has been a clinical preceptor for Nurse Practitioner Students as well as podiatry and medical students. In her spare time she runs a horse rescue charity. Her interests lie in teaching and research of equine assisted therapy health benefits, PTSD and alternative holistic therapies.
Ashley Rivera, RN, MSN, CDE, is not known for being a wall-flower. She believes in the power of a positive attitude and a smile. She keeps centered through her loving husband, three rambunctious children and being outdoors in her organic garden. Ashley’s practice experience includes Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Liver Transplant, Medical Surgical, High Risk Pregnancy, Diabetic Education and Telemetry. She started her health care journey as an EMT, but came to love nursing for the continuation of care aspects. Ashley has worked both inpatient and outpatient at different stages of her nursing journey. Currently she is Adjunct Faculty for Nova Southeastern University, practice clinically in Telemetry, and works as a research assistant. Ashley entered the PhD program in August of 2015 and received a Jonas Scholarship in 2016. Her primary research interests are family-centered and palliative care in the chronically ill pediatric population. She also holds a strong love for community health and entry-level nursing education. Ashley is in the final stages of her first pilot study on the paternal experience of parenting chronically ill children.
Mercedes (Mercy) Rodriguez, RN, MSN, earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1984, and her Masters of Science in Nursing Education in 1995, from Barry University in Miami, Florida. Early in her career, she worked as a staff nurse and an Associate Nurse Manager in behavioral health. In 1990, she joined Jackson Health System (JHS) in Miami, Florida in the role of Clinical Educator for Mental Health Services. In 1993, she transferred to the Education & Development Department. Over the last twenty seven years she has built a career in education at JHS. She served as the Interim Associate Director of Education and is currently in a Nurse Educator role. She is the coordinator of the RN Medical-Surgical Internship program.
Mercy has a passion for creativity and teaching. She co-developed and coordinated the education initiative for Relationship-Based Care and the integration of Madeleine Leininger’s Theory of Cultural Care Diversity and Universality at JHS. Mercy is presently pursuing her research interests in exploring the stories and health challenges of Cuban refugees over decades. She recently had an article entitled “Patterns of Bedtime Preparation for In- Patients with Schizophrenia: A Pilot Study” accepted for publication in Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.
Heather Saifman, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, holds a faculty position as an Assistant Professor at Nova Southeastern University (NSU); teaching in their undergraduate BSN program. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing (Education Concentration) from FAU in 2010. She is a graduate of the NSU College of Allied Health and Nursing’s (CAHN) Teaching and Learning & Leadership and Management Academies, and serves as a Center for Academic and Professional Excellence (CAPE) executive council member.
As a clinician, she worked as an ICU nurse for 16 years, earning Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification, and mentoring new graduates. She has served as a Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), Upsilon Chi Chapter, Member Delegate, and as a Board Member for the Florida League for Nursing.
Her research interests include leadership development, generational sensitivity and succession planning. She is actively researching the experience of being a Millennial Nurse Manager. She has presented her research on peer mentoring at the 2014 National League for Nurses (NLN) Education Summit. She is credited as a co-author on “Factors that lead Generation Y nurses to consider or reject nurse leader roles” and has presented the findings of this work at the International Nursing Administration Research Conference (INARC) in 2014.
Joy Sessa, RN, MSN, CCRN, SCRN, graduated from Malone University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Her Master of Science Degree in Nursing was awarded in 2007by Walden University. Joy currently holds a critical care certification (CCRN) and a stroke care certification (SCRN) from the AANN.
She has practiced in a variety of settings within acute care over the past 18 years, including orthopedics, cardiothoracic surgical ICU, critical care educator, and is presently the stroke program coordinator at Memorial Hospital West. Her research interest encompasses improving stroke outcomes by integrating workflow processes for the treatment of acute stroke patients seamlessly between the pre-hospital and in-hospital phase of care. Her dissertation work involves identifying barriers to stroke prevention within the community using geocoding to pinpoint communities suffering from the highest number of strokes within the service area of a local healthcare system and then conduct qualitative data collection/analysis to determine the factors contributing to the higher number of strokes diagnosed in that specific community.
Usar Suragarn is a Ph.D. student in healthy aging research at Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing. She received her master’s degree in nursing administration and leadership from Florida Atlantic University and obtained a post-master’s certificate in healthcare management in public health, palliative care, and long-term care from Fordham University. She was awarded the 2013-2014 Fulbright research grant to study palliative care in the Philippines, Palm Healthcare Foundation’s Commitment to Community Award, and Mutual of America Community Partnership Award. She is an active member in several community involvement committees and professional simulation organizations.
Usar is currently a Community Project Manager at Florida Atlantic University Simulation Center. She works with community partners to develop simulation-based training programs in community settings: nursing homes, home health agencies, family caregivers, care coordinators, hospice and palliative care, and interprofessional practice. Her research interest is to improve the quality of life for people living with chronic disease working together with community partnership, patients, families, and clinicians to create a more meaningful experience on, “How to live well with the disease until one dies”.
Armiel Suriaga is currently a PhD in nursing student at Florida Atlantic University. He has twenty-five years of nursing experience in rehabilitation nursing, long-term care with focus on Minimum Data Set and Medicare reimbursement, clinical and nursing education. He worked as Resident Assessment Director at Nu Vista Living in Wellington. At present, he is a clinical instructor at Palm Beach State College and faculty per diem at Bethesda College of Health Sciences. His passion for teaching ranks second to none, where he teaches Medical-Surgical Nursing, Pharmacology, Psychiatric Mental Health and Fundamentals of Nursing in some nursing schools in Palm Beach County. He also taught NCLEX-RN in one review center in the Philippines.
Armiel graduated as high school class valedictorian, and he pursued his nursing education through scholarships. In 1992, he received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing with honors at West Visayas State University, a top performing nursing school in the Philippines. He completed his MSN at Walden University, major in Nursing Informatics in 2014.
Armiel is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Iota XI chapter at FAU. His research interests include transforming healthcare environment and healthy aging. Among his self-care approaches are traveling, going to the gym, reading and gardening.
Cheryl Wallin, MSN, RN, NE-BC, is a registered nurse with a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration and Financial Leadership and a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University. Ms. Wallin has been a nurse for more than 30 years working in medical units, cardiac and new born intensive care unit as well as pediatric home health and public health. Currently Ms. Wallin is the Executive Nursing Director of Children’s Medical Services Southeast Region, Department of Health providing care coordination and specialty clinic services to children with chronic special healthcare needs across 6 counties. Ms. Wallin is board certified as a Nurse Executive through the American Nurses Association. Ms. Wallin is co-founder of TuJJe Ministries, Inc. a non-profit NGO providing a clinic and a community health leader program in Uganda.
Ms. Wallin is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and Sigma Theta Tau International Iota Xi Chapter. She presented her qualitative pilot study, Barriers to Mosquito Net Use in an Underserved Population in Uganda, Africa at the STTI 27th International Research Conference in South Africa, July 2016. Ms. Wallin is currently a PhD student and her areas of interest are global health and cultural humility.
Jane C. Wilson, RN, MSN, has over 29 years of experience in nursing. Jane is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Palm Beach Atlantic University with a passion for maternal child health. Currently she is involved in the breast feeding initiative recommended by the World Health Organization, in educating new mothers to breastfeed for the first 24 months of life. Jane obtained her BSN from Kutztown University, PA, and her MSN at Liberty University, VA. Jane has had a wide variety of experiences in the area of the OR, maternal child, and homecare.
Her area of research centers upon the health promoting activity of breastfeeding. Jane is passionate in promoting breastfeeding but she also endeavors to illuminate the complex social and economic conditions that may challenge the possibility of successful breastfeeding of woman of diverse ethnicities and economic levels.
Jane is a proud recipient of the Friends of Nursing Award 2011, the Alma Award for Excellence in Home Care Nursing 2011, Employee of the Quarter, Lehigh Valley Home Care 2010, and the Kutztown University Nursing Scholars Award 2010. Jane is an active member of Nurses Christian Fellowship, and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.