Skip to main content Skip to navigation

NLN honors both the WSU College of Nursing and Associate Dean Renee Hoeksel

The WSU College of Nursing and one of its faculty were honored by the National League for Nursing (NLN) in a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Left to right: Renee Hoeksel, Executive Associate Dean; Joyce Griffin-Sobel, Dean and Professor; and Rumay Alexander, NLN President.
The WSU College of Nursing and one of its faculty were honored by the National League for Nursing (NLN) in a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Left to right: Renee Hoeksel, Executive Associate Dean; Joyce Griffin-Sobel, Dean and Professor; and Rumay Alexander, NLN President.
The WSU College of Nursing and one of its faculty were honored by the National League for Nursing (NLN) in a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Left to right: Renee Hoeksel, Executive Associate Dean; Joyce Griffin-Sobel, Dean and Professor; and Rumay Alexander, NLN President.

There are more than 800 nursing programs in the United States and more than 400,000 nurses who’ve earned masters or doctoral degrees.

So it’s notable that the National League for Nursing (NLN) honored both the Washington State University College of Nursing and one of its faculty, Executive Associate Dean and Professor Renee Hoeksel, at the organization’s 2017 Educational Summit this past weekend.

Dean Joyce Griffin-Sobel accepted a certificate naming the WSU College of Nursing a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education in a ceremony Saturday evening. She was joined on the stage by Associate Dean Anita Hunter; Hoeksel; and Senior Instructor Laura Wintersteen-Arleth.

Moments later, Hoeksel was inducted as a Fellow of the NLN Academy of Nursing Education. In announcing Hoeksel’s fellowship, Karen Pardue, Chair of the Academy of Nursing Education Review Panel, lauded her work in establishing new RN-BSN pathways across five western states.

The 14 new fellows and one honorary fellow “have contributed above and beyond the responsibilities associated with their employment, made contributions to nursing education that have been broad in scope and not limited to their own classrooms or schools,” Pardue noted.

Gloria Jacobson, chair of the Centers of Excellence review panel, told conference attendees that the program recognizes schools of nursing and health care organizations that set high standards, are committed to continuous quality improvement, and demonstrate sustained, evidence-based, and substantive innovation. The WSU College of Nursing was among 15 universities and health care organizations recognized, and the only school in the Pacific Northwest.

“The school started out as the first intercollegiate nursing program in the nation, and now has a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees, a multimillion-dollar research portfolio, and courses offered at campuses statewide,” Jacobson said.

Other universities receiving the Centers of Excellence designation are: Ball State University, Duke University, Emory University, Indiana University, Kent State University, Purdue University, Rush University, Samford University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Kansas, Villanova University, and Widener University.

Representing the WSU College of Nursing at the NLN awards ceremony on Sept. 16, 2017, were: Dean and Professor Joyce Griffin-Sobel; Associate Dean Anita Hunter; Associate Dean Renee Hoeksel; and Senior Instructor Laura Wintersteen-Arleth.
Representing the WSU College of Nursing at the NLN awards ceremony on Sept. 16, 2017, were: Dean and Professor Joyce Griffin-Sobel; Associate Dean Anita Hunter; Associate Dean Renee Hoeksel; and Senior Instructor Laura Wintersteen-Arleth.

College of Nursing professor bonds with retired nurse through ElderFriends

Julie Postma, left, a faculty member with the College of Nursing, has been a volunteer companion to Barbara, right, through ElderFriends.

The heart of a nurse isn’t bound by the hours of a work shift.

Julie and Barbara both know that.

Julie Postma is a former ICU nurse who’s now an associate professor in the WSU College of Nursing, teaching in Puyallup, Washington.  Barbara worked as a nurse for decades in California and North Carolina, but at 90, she’s in an assisted living facility in Seattle.

The two connected through ElderFriends, a program in Seattle and King County that matches isolated older adults with volunteers who provide companionship. Postma visits Barbara twice a month and takes the older nurse on drives to explore the Puget Sound region, or just to people-watch.

Julie Postma, left, a faculty member with the College of Nursing, has been a volunteer companion to Barbara, right, through ElderFriends.
Julie Postma, left, a faculty member with the College of Nursing, has been a volunteer companion to Barbara, right, through ElderFriends.

The two share a love of national parks, travel, and dogs. “Sometimes we’ll go to a dog park – Barbara really misses a little dog she had,” Postma said. “She just lights up.”

After spending about two years together, Postma said she couldn’t imagine a more perfect match than Barbara.

So she worried about her friend when she was making plans to be out of the country for six weeks earlier this year. “I thought, that’s such a long time to be gone,” Postma said. “That’s when I had the idea of taking Barbara on a fun metaphorical road trip.” Using photos and interesting facts, Postma created an armchair trip through the Pacific Northwest. She asked a friend to mail the travelogues to Barbara each week.

Postma said she signed up for ElderFriends because she missed the meaningful interactions she used to have with patients. “That’s a big part of nursing,” she said. “It was a big part of my enjoyment of the profession.”

Seeing Barbara brings that back, Postma said.

“This is connecting with another person in the way I used to connect with seniors in the hospital,” she said. “My favorite part of this experience is when I drop her off and she turns around and gives me a big smile.”

For more information on ElderFriends, a program offered by Full Life Care, visit their website at

Desk of the Dean

Dean Joyce Griffin-Sobel


Dean Joyce Griffin-Sobel

Dean Joyce Griffin-Sobel

September 11, 2017
Each year on this date, I reflect on the terrible events of September 11, 2001. I vowed then that I would do my part to ensure we do not forget the horrific assault on our country, and the losses that over 4,000 families endured as a result.

So many people narrowly escaped injury or death, serendipitously. I count myself among those.

I have an apartment on the west side of Manhattan, directly uptown from the World Trade Center site. My husband worked at the stock exchange and was at the Brooklyn offices that day. I commuted for my job from a subway in the basement of the World Trade Center, but had stayed home with a cold. If I hadn’t, I would have been in the building at the time of the attack.

My husband called me shortly after 8 a.m. and told me to turn on the TV – he had seen the first plane hit. I didn’t hear from him the rest of the day. Before I saw the smoke from the collapse of the first tower, hundreds of pigeons flew by my window in a frenzy, as far as I could see. My husband arrived home covered in ash around 6 p.m. He had to walk home, the length of Manhattan, because the bridges were closed and no transportation was moving. He had witnessed people jumping out of 100th floor windows to escape the flames. We had quite the reunion, one that is hard for us to talk about to this day.

By the next morning, every telephone pole, street light and wall was plastered with photos of the missing. The images remained there through the winter; no one had the heart to remove them. My former hospital had nurses out on the street all night waiting for patients who never came. On day 3, we finally left our house and went down to the site. To see that massive hole where those iconic towers once stood, filled now with firefighters and police sifting through smoldering debris, was more heartbreaking than I can express. For weeks, New Yorkers lined the West Side Highway applauding those first responders who returned to the pile, as they called it, for months on end, to the detriment of their own health.

Perhaps most important to me about remembering 9/11 is the demonstration of how we as Americans come together in times of trouble. Now as we worry about the future of healthcare, we as nurses must come together for the health of our most vulnerable. Lack of adequate access to quality healthcare in many areas of Washington has created disparities in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of many diseases. I am a cancer nurse, and areas of our state have some of the highest incidences of colon cancer in the U.S. Colon cancer is almost entirely preventable and as nurses, we must come together to ensure people receive screening, at the very least.

We also must come together for the health of our profession. A graphic demonstration of that is the assault of a Utah nurse by a police officer as she was protecting her patient from an unlawful blood draw. The public has certainly come to her defense, as has the media. Troubling to me is that university and hospital administration were silent for weeks until the nurse released the bodycam video. How are we coming together with our colleagues in healthcare systems across this state to guarantee violence prevention programs are in place and enforced? No nurse should be threatened when doing her or his job.

We cannot wait to speak up until it is convenient or forced because of publicity. So I say this: I am deeply troubled by the threat to 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, the group often called Dreamers. I have taught so many young people affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and each one of them is a wonderful nurse and an asset to our country. America is a land of opportunity – a place to overcome the obstacles we face in our lives. We must come together to protect these Dreamers. It is what nurses do. We take care of those who need us.

Dean Joyce

Grant will create fellowships for researchers with disabilities at WSU

Portrait of Dr. Jae Kennedy
Portrait of Dr. Jae Kennedy
Dr. Jae Kennedy, chair and professor of the College of Nursing’s Department of Health Policy and Administration.

Research scientists with disabilities are underrepresented in the health sciences, yet such scholars bring needed perspective to understanding and improving health policies and services for people with disabilities.

A new federal grant will help WSU hire three post-doctoral students with disabilities to become academic researchers, with the goal of having them go on to faculty positions at major universities or leadership roles in federal research agencies and nonprofit foundations.

The five-year, $750,000 award from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research will provide a competitive salary, full benefits, and support for any needed workplace assistance or adaptive technologies.

Called the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living Fellowship (CHRIL-F), the positions “will bring new scholars with disabilities to the table, and provide them the skills and support they will need to enlarge the policy debate,” said Jae Kennedy, principal investigator, professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the WSU College of Nursing.

The three fellows will be hired by WSU in staggered terms over the five-year grant, and will spend 18 months taking graduate courses, working on research grant proposals and journal manuscripts, and developing individual plans of research. They can spend three to six months of the fellowship at one or more affiliate sites, including Washington DC, Houston, or Lawrence, Kansas.

Grant funding can also be used for conference travel, which typically is more difficult and costly for people with disabilities, but which is critical for networking and presenting research work.  The specific uses of support funds will depend on the needs of the fellows hired, but could include office space reconfiguration, or hiring a personal aide or interpreter.

With this grant, “We propose building a small but sturdy pipeline for disability researchers with disabilities by designing postdoc positions specific to their needs,” Kennedy said.

Besides Kennedy, the project team includes Roberta Carlin, director of the American Association on Health and Disability; Lex Frieden, a professor of bioinformatics and rehabilitation at the University of Texas in Houston; Jean Hall, a professor and director of the Institute for Health and Disability Policy at the University of Kansas; and Elizabeth Wood, a research associate in the Department of Health Policy and Administration at WSU.

The same team makes up the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL), established by Kennedy under a $2.5 million federal grant to bring together disability advocates and researchers to investigate how the Affordable Care Act and related legislation affects the lives of adults with disabilities.

“The members of the CHRIL have personal, professional, and political experience with disability, and many contacts throughout the research and disability communities,” Kennedy said. “We are not just advocates and researchers who happen to have disabilities: disability is central to what we do and why we do it.”

Benefits of Precepting


Benefits of Precepting for WSU College of Nursing

Precepting nurse practitioner students is an exceptional opportunity to pay forward the extraordinary work of your own preceptors.

By mentoring a student you are enhancing their learning experience, participating in the preparedness of your future colleagues, recognizing the importance of advanced practice nurses, and contributing to the quality of healthcare in the region.

Precepting also yields the benefits of long-term observation of a potential employee in the clinical setting, and offering an opportunity to recruit a high quality student who will need minimal orientation/onboarding at the time of hire. This, combined with avoiding a costly and lengthy job posting process, minimizes staffing shortages, streamlines processes, and represents a significant cost savings for organizations. It has been found that new providers choose to apply to positions in settings where they’ve had clinical experiences as students, so your partnership with the College could strengthen your future provider workforce.

Additional benefits you may be interested in include College of Nursing practice transformation projects and research initiatives that may benefit your practice and contribute to your strategic goals or mission. Precepting is a way to learn about these initiatives through engagement with our faculty and students and connecting your passion for improving healthcare with groundbreaking research.

If you are interested in developing this strong relationship with WSU, here are other benefits you may receive:

  • Letter or signed verification form to count precepting activities towards your recertification requirements
  • Participation in our spring Preceptor Recognition Event (in Spokane and in Vancouver) providing 1-2 free CE units
  • Opportunity to apply for adjunct faculty status (nonpaid) with the following benefits:
  • Library privileges: 30,000 journal subscriptions, access to Up-to-Date
  • WSU ID card with privileges: library privileges, riding the Pullman transit buses
  • Access to WSU study and research facilities
  • Campus parking privileges (fee)
  • Access to computing facilities or services
  • Opportunity to apply to be a Clinical Evaluator (paid)

Interested in being a preceptor or clinical evaluator and obtaining Adjunct Faculty status? Contact us.


Quick Links & Resources



Study: Can an online program help reduce opioid use by patients with chronic pain?

Dr. Marian Wilson

Dr. Marian Wilson

Marian Wilson, an assistant professor at the WSU College of Nursing, is joining a team of scientists who’ll lead a federally funded, $2.5 million study investigating whether an online pain management program can help patients with chronic pain reduce or eliminate the amount of prescription opioids they take.

Wilson, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a co-investigator on the EMPOWER study with lead investigator Theresa Winhusen, Ph.D., director of the Addiction Sciences Division in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The five-year study will involve 400 non-cancer patients who are being treated for chronic pain with long-term opioid therapy at University of Cincinnati Health and Duke Health.

A web-based pain management tool, called Goalistics Chronic Pain Management Program, has been found in small previous trials to decrease patients’ pain and reduce opioid use. The EMPOWER study will expand the sample size and researchers will have access to patients’ clinical records to accurately measure opioid use.

Goalistics teaches relaxation exercises and psychological approaches to managing pain, and encourages goal-setting and physical activity – the kind of comprehensive, holistic pain-management care patients might get through a multidisciplinary pain clinic in an urban area. Wilson, who has used Goalistics in previous research, said many patients with chronic pain don’t have access to that level of care, and instead are treated by primary care providers who have had little training in pain management.

The EMPOWER study hopes to give primary care providers another tool to use in helping patients manage chronic pain, while also responding to soaring opioid addiction rates and overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended decreasing the use of opioids for treating pain.

“It’s a really difficult situation telling people, ‘Sorry, you can’t have your opioids but we’re not really giving you an alternative,’” Wilson said. An online pain management program could be “a lifeline extended to patients, another tool to help manage pain. It’s something that can give them some hope and show that people understand what they’re going through.”

The research is being funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Wilson said she’ll function as the study’s pain and online-program expert, while Winhusen, the lead investigator, will oversee the clinical trial.

The study is the third announced in recent weeks involving WSU College of Nursing faculty receiving significant funding from federal agencies:

  • Assistant Professor Roschelle “Shelly” Fritz, of the College of Nursing in Vancouver, is one of three WSU scientists who landed a $1.77 million grant from NIH to research how “smart home” technology can help monitor the health and safety of senior citizens.
  • Associate Professor Janet Purath received a $1.3 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration to address a critical shortage of primary-care providers across Eastern Washington through nurse-practitioner training.

Both NIH awards are Research Project Grants (R01), the original grant mechanism used by the agency. R01 and R01-equivalent grants are highly competitive: NIH says that in 2016, for example, just 20 percent of such grant applications were funded, and the average size of the award was about $458,000.

Dr. Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, the College of Nursing’s interim associate dean for research, praised faculty for their success in bringing research dollars to the College of Nursing. “We’re seeing more of the College of Nursing faculty who were successful a couple years ago getting seed grants now writing larger and larger grants,” she said. She also called called the EMPOWER research “a critical study” because of the issue of opioid addiction in the country.

Wilson credited colleagues with valuable help on her work in addiction science, including Drs. John Roll and Matt Layton of the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; Barbosa-Leiker; College of Nursing doctoral students Mary Lee Roberts and Teresa Bigand, and Dr. Michele Shaw, associate professor at the College of Nursing.

Said Wilson, “I think we were fortunate that we had the right topic for the times. The nation is focused on the pain and opioid addiction issue.”

Emilie Kimball, BSN ’11, to volunteer aboard Mercy Ships

Africa Mercy is the largest ship in Mercy Ships' fleet, with 8 operating suites and a crew of 450.
Africa Mercy is the largest ship in Mercy Ships' fleet, with 8 operating suites and a crew of 450.
Africa Mercy is the largest ship in Mercy Ships’ fleet. Photo courtesy Mercy Ships.

Emilie Kimball’s nursing degree will take her across the globe later this month to volunteer for Mercy Ships in Africa.

Kimball said she views it as her third “career” in nursing in the six years since she graduated from the WSU College of Nursing. She worked in the surgical unit at Seattle Children’s, then in the pediatric intensive care unit there.

Emilie Kimball, BSN '11, will volunteer for 10 weeks in Africa with Mercy Ships.
Emilie Kimball, BSN ’11, will volunteer for 10 weeks in Africa with Mercy Ships.

She’ll be a ward nurse on the Africa Mercy, the largest civilian hospital ship in the world with five operating rooms and 80 patient beds, docked for 10 months in Douala, Cameroon. Mercy Ships, a faith-based nonprofit, provides surgery and dental care and trains local doctors and nurses in specific areas of expertise.

Kimball heard about Mercy Ships a few years ago and was intrigued, she said. Then she discovered her employer, Seattle Children’s, offers sabbaticals after just five years of service.

“I decided it was time, applied for sabbatical, applied for Mercy Ships, and here I am one month out” from her Sept. 30 departure, she said recently. She’ll work on the ship for 10 weeks, then plans to travel before returning to Seattle.

That’s the kind of flexibility and adventure a nursing career can offer, said Kimball, 28.

“Nursing is such a great career,” she said. “It fits my personality to a T. I love the science behind it, I like the critical thinking, I like caring for people. It’s fun to see how nursing can be used in different ways.”

Kimball came by the profession naturally. She jokes that she graduated nursing school twice, since her mother was pregnant with Emilie in 1988 when she graduated from the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education. ICNE eventually became the WSU College of Nursing.

“I knew I wanted to be a nurse since I was 3,” Kimball said, and she always knew she wanted to attend WSU for nursing school. She spent her first two years at Whitworth University.

She added, “I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t a nurse. My roommate works for (a major Seattle-area employer), and being in the business world is not who she is. But for most nurses, being a nurse is who you are.”

For information on Mercy Ships, visit the organization’s website at 

Jarah Nordin, an American volunteer nurse, works with an orthopedic patient onboard Mercy Ships. Photo by Katie Keegan, courtesy of Mercy Ships.
Jarah Nordin, an American volunteer nurse, works with an orthopedic patient on board Mercy Ships. Photo by Katie Keegan, courtesy of Mercy Ships.

Open Lab sign up

Open lab sign up form

News release: College of Nursing faculty part of group landing $1.8 million for “smart home” research

SPOKANE, Wash. – An interprofessional team of scientists from Washington State University has landed a $1.77 million grant to research how “smart home” technology can monitor the health and safety of senior citizens from afar.

The National Institute of Nursing Research, one of the organizations that makes up the National Institutes of Health, awarded the grant to:

Fritz - Cook - Schmitter-Edgecombe l-r
Fritz, Cook, Schmitter-Edgecombe, l-r

— Roschelle “Shelly” Fritz, assistant professor in the College of Nursing in Vancouver;

— Diane Cook, the Huie-Rogers chair professor in the School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science;

— Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, the Herbert L. Eastlick professor in the Department of Psychology

Bringing technology together

The scientists are looking to bring together the analytics produced by smart-home sensors and health monitoring and assessment technology, with the judgment and experience of health-care clinicians for automated health assessment. They will design and pilot test smart-home technology to automatically identify health events for adults with chronic conditions in their own homes.

As sensors record information, a health-care professional will identify data that’s relevant to a person’s health and safety, then engineers will create computer algorithms to recognize meaningful behavioral patterns. For example, a sensor might detect motion in a person’s kitchen around the same time each night as the subject gets a glass of water before bed; the clinician would flag that pattern as important and the engineer would create an algorithm to trigger an automatic alert to caregivers in the absence of that motion.

Living longer at home

The research has the potential to provide dramatic benefits. By extending the ability of older adults to age in place through real-time assessment and intervention, these technologies can extend the functional independence of our aging society, reduce caregiver burden and improve quality of life.

The “clinician-in-the-loop” research project builds on the work of Cook and Schmitter-Edgecombe in developing a health-assistive smart home that uses intelligent algorithms capable of detecting and labeling with over 98 percent accuracy more than 40 normal activities of daily living and behavior patterns for older adults.

The research also builds on Fritz’s innovative pilot work conducted at Touchmark on South Hill,, a retirement community in Spokane, Wash. There, she has deployed five health-assistive smart homes, with support from the Touchmark Foundation. Fritz is evaluating the clinical relevance of raw sensor data, so the intelligent algorithms can be trained to detect health changes in older adults with multiple chronic conditions. Research under the new grant will again be conducted at Touchmark on South Hill.

The five-year grant started on Aug. 1. It includes funding for a nursing Ph.D. student to work as a research assistant with a nine-month tuition waiver and stipend. Interested students can email Fritz for an application at

Subscribe to Focus on Nursing E-magazine

Subscribe to Focus on Nursing E-magazine