Andra Opalinski was born and raised near Birmingham, AL where she completed her undergraduate work. She has spent most of her adult life in Florida with her husband Brett and two daughters. Dr. Opalinski has been a certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner since 2000 and has serve as a faculty of nursing in several universities. Dr. Opalinski joined the Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing as an Assistant Professor in 2014.

Dr. Opalinski’s teaching draws on her expertise with children and family populations, nurse practitioner specialty and health promotion across the life span. She has taught in the undergraduate and doctoral programs at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. At the family nurse practitioner level she supports students’ learning through direct care content from advanced health assessment courses to care of children and families courses while engaging students in multiple Academic-Service Learning opportunities. At the doctoral level she supports student through comprehensive exams, mentoring dissertation research development as well as serving as a dissertation chair. What she believes most about teaching and learning is that learning happens most effectively in a community which can lead to mutual respect where students feel valued and are invested in the process.

Dr. Opalinski’s scholarship and research interests are encompassed under the umbrella of emancipatory nursing praxis (ENP) utilizing an implementing processes of becoming, awakening, engaging and transforming. Much of this work has also been through the lens of faith community nursing (FCN), health support through faith community (FC) environments, and community-based participatory research. Her interest in the connection between health promotion of children and faith communities (FCs) originated during her practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner. This sparked the direction for her dissertation research where she studied cultural perspectives of childhood obesity of three cultural groups (Haitian, Hispanic, and FCs) and examined for intersection of perspectives to build a basis on which interventions might be created. Since that time, she has continued to examine the food culture of FCs and the potential impact on childhood obesity.

Through community collaborations with FCN programs, another arm of research evolved related to persons experiencing homelessness. She has led an interdisciplinary team (nurses, visual anthropologist, and social work) for 5 years to explore the health challenges of persons experiencing homelessness. This work has been guided through Story Theory and a Field to Forum approach (Liehr) approach to disseminating results in creative ways to engage a broader audience in the findings. This work has developed into exploring the impact of Human Connection between persons experiencing homelessness and community healthcare workers on health outcomes.

In addition, after the events of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shootings, Dr. Opalinski’s work has expanded to exploring the concept of resilience in children and adolescents as well as exploring the use of integrative therapies such as health coaching and mindfulness practices in the mental health promotion of children and adolescents. She is engaged in multiple community partnerships evaluating the use of mindfulness training for self-regulation and improved focus in local elementary and high schools.

Each of these populations (children, adolescents, and persons experiencing homelessness) are vulnerable populations. Her work seeks to be a voice to communicate the health challenges and possible solutions for each group and keeps her work grounded in the concept of emancipatory nursing thus doing her part in generating caring science knowledge in nursing.


Teaching responsibilities include

Undergraduate: pediatric content

Graduate: pediatric content for the family nurse practitioner program, advanced health assessment for nurse practitioners, MSN level research and evidence-based practice courses

Research: Health Promotion through Faith Community Nursing, Faith communities impact on child health, Childhood obesity, Populations experiencing homelessness and health support through faith communities

Grants Awarded

  • D’Avolio, D. (Principal Investigator) / Gropper, S., Opalinski, A.S., and Newman, D. (Co-Investigator). Project Title: “A Telehealth Coaching Intervention Addressing Nutritional Health of Older Adults with Dementia and Family Caregiver Stress and Well-being: A Dyad Approach”. Funding Agency: Institute of Coaching (IOC). Project Dates: 7/2019-12/2020. Amount Awarded: $26,489.
  • Opalinski, A.S. (Principal Investigator). “Impacting emotional well-being of high achieving high school students through mindfulness skill building.” Funding Agency: Florida Atlantic University Office of Community Engagement. Funding Mechanism: Community Engaged Grant Projects. Amount Awarded $1000. Project dates: 12/1/2019-11/30/2020.
  • Opalinski. A. (Principle investigator). Project Title: “Adolescent and Young Adult Stories of Resilience Funding Agency: Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Center for Caring Research Initiative Award. Project Dates: 3/19-present. Amount Awarded $3000.
  • Opalinski, A. (Principal Investigator). Project Title: “Mental Health Promotion in Educational Settings through Health Ministry.” Funding Agency: FloridaBlue and Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Project Dates: 6/1/18 – 6/30/19. Amount Awarded: $10,000.
  • D’Avolio, D. (Principal Investigator) / Newman, D. and A. Opalinski (Co-Investigator). Project Title: “A Mobile Coaching Delirium Intervention for Family Caregivers of Community-Dwelling Older Adults with Dementia.” Funding Agency: Network for Investment of Delirium Across the US (NIDUS). Funding Mechanism: Pilot Awards. Project Dates: 11/1/2017 – 10/31/2018. Amount Awarded: $61,654.
  • Opalinski, A., Principle investigator, Project Title: “Shared Culture, Obesity, Poverty, and Health Ministry”, Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Nursing Research, Project Dates: 9/04-12/06.Amount Awarded: $70,772.

Recent Publications

  • Martinez, L.A & Opalinski, A.S (2019). Building the Concept of Nurturing Resilience. Journal of Pediatric Nursing,
  • Opalinski, A., Gropper, S., Parra, A. (2019). Foods Served at Faith Community Events for Children – Is there Room for Improvements in this Unexplored Child Nutrition Site? Public Health Nutrition.
  • Opalinski, A., D’Avolio, D., Stein, N., Groton, D., Fox, V., Saiswick, K., & Newman, D. (2019). Psychometric testing of the human connection scale with people experiencing homelessness. International Journal for Human Caring, 23(3) doi.10.20467/1091-5710.23.3.205
  • Dyess, S.M. Callaghan, D.M. & Opalinski, A.S. (2017). Exploration and Description of Faith Community Nurses’ Documentation Practices and Perceived Documentation Barriers. International Journal of Faith Community Nursing, 3(1), Article 2. Available at:
  • Dyess, S.M., Sherman, R.O., Opalinski, A., & Eggenberger, T. (2017). Structured coaching programs to develop staff. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 48(8), 373-378.
  • Opalinski, A., Dyess, S. & Gropper, S. (2017). Food culture of faith communities and potential impact on childhood obesity. Public Health Nursing.
  • Opalinski, A., Dyess, S.M. Stein, N. L., Saiswick, K., & Fox, V. (2017). Broadening practice perspective by engaging in academic-practice collaboration: A faith community nursing exemplar. International Journal of Faith Community Nursing, 3(1): 1-8.
  • Opalinski, A.S., Weglicki, L.S, Gropper, S.S (2017). Health Habit: A concept analysis. Nursing Forum. doi: 10.1111/nuf.12208
  • Baugh, M.L.A., Opalinski, A., Dyess, S., Gropper, S.S. (2016). Snack Provisions by 21st Century Community Learning Center-Based Afterschool Programs. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. doi:10.1080/19320248.2016.1146197
  • Dyess, SM, Opalinski, A., Saiswick, K., & Fox, V. (2016) Caring across the healthcare continuum: A call to nurse leaders to manifest values through action with community outreach. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 40 (2), 137-145.
  • Opalinski, A., Dyess, S., & Gropper, S.S (2015). Do faith communities have a role in addressing childhood obesity? Public Health Nursing, 32(6): 721-730. doi: 10.1111/phn.12226