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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

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.”

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.”

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

WSU College of Nursing family mourns the passing of one of its founders

Portrait of Betty Anderson

On Sunday, the WSU College of Nursing lost one of our founders and an influential figure in nursing in the Pacific Northwest, when Betty Anderson passed away at the age of 99.

Anderson was one of the remarkable nurse leaders whose vision and drive established the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education in 1968, and her legacy is the WSU College of Nursing.

She once said of the College of Nursing, “We were all pioneers back then. And they’re still pioneering today.”

Anderson was the Director of Nursing Service & Education at St. Luke’s Hospital in Spokane when she began discussions with others in the nursing profession about the need for additional nursing instruction in the region. At the time, there were no four-year nursing programs in Eastern Washington.

She was an early proponent of the intercollegiate model, and went personally to WSU in Pullman with Betty Harrington to enlist the support of then-President Glenn Terrell for a baccalaureate nursing program. She was also instrumental in expanding the College of Nursing’s statewide reach. 

Anderson was the truest definition of “nurse leader,” say people who worked with her – kind, caring, strong and principled.

Janet Holloway, WSU Associate Professor Emeritus, said of her friend and mentor, “Early on she modeled many of the nursing values and standards I would later incorporate into my own practice.” In the late 1960s, when Holloway was asked to join the faculty at the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education, “Betty mentored me in many aspects of my new role. I will forever be indebted to her for her assistance,” she said.

There will be no services at Anderson’s request, but Dean Joyce Griffin-Sobel of the WSU College of Nursing asks that we keep Anderson’s children, Erik and Signe, along with their families, and all who knew and respected Betty Anderson, in our thoughts today.

If you would like to make a gift in honor of Betty Anderson’s legacy please write a check to the WSU Foundation and note it’s for the Earl & Betty Anderson Nursing Scholarship. Checks can be mailed to WSU College of Nursing, PO Box 1495, Spokane, WA 99210, Attn: Development 443. Alternately, to make an online gift visit and type “Anderson” in the Search function in the middle of the page. Select the “Earl & Betty Anderson Nursing Scholarship” from the drop-down of funds that appears. Finally, you can reach Brooke Ledeboer, Development Director, with any inquiries at (509) 324-7202 or

CBTSim certified by international police training organization

Portrait of Lois James in front of her CBTSim simulator
Portrait of Dr. Lois James, the researcher who developed CBTSim
Dr. Lois James of the WSU College of Nursing

A simulator developed by a WSU College of Nursing researcher to help police officers recognize their biases has been certified by an international law enforcement training organization.

It’s only the second “implicit bias training” class to receive the Seal of Excellence from the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). The association sets standards for police training programs to ensure consistency across the country.

CBTSim, or Counter Bias Training Simulation, was developed by Dr. Lois James, an Assistant Professor at the WSU College of Nursing. Her co-investigator is Dr. Stephen James, Assistant Research Professor at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at WSU.

CBTSim is a portable unit that uses full-sized video screens to present police officers with realistic scenarios where they’re required to make deadly-force decisions. The scenarios are based on 30 years of data, and “may elicit a response from the student based on their inherent biases and not from an actual threat presented,” noted the evaluators who awarded the Seal of Excellence to CBTSim. The simulation is followed by discussion and debriefing among the trainer and the participants.

“Receiving the IADLEST National Certification Program™ seal of excellence is a significant achievement for CBTsim,” Dr. Lois James said. “Requirements for certification are a firm grounding in scientific evidence on the training topic, as well as a rigorous plan for evaluating trainee progress. For an implicit bias training class to be stamped with this seal of approval is rare, and I hope will speak to the value of CBTsim for police departments nationwide.”

With the certification from the national training organization, CBTSim will be listed on a roster of approved training programs for police and sheriff’s departments across the country.

James developed CBTSim with support from the WSU College of Nursing and a grant from the university’s Office of Commercialization. She is currently marketing the training to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Lois James, WSU Spokane College of Nursing, 509-324-7442, cell 509-385-9386,

Anita Hunter’s passion to help others took her around the world

A sign for Holy Innocents Children's Hospital in Mbarara, Uganda
Dr. Anita Hunter feeds a giraffe at an animal sanctuary in Uganda, Africa.
Dr. Anita Hunter with a giraffe at an animal sanctuary in Uganda.

By Addy Hatch

Anita Hunter has traveled the globe, but the pediatric nurse practitioner, professor and academic leader didn’t hit the tourist spots. Instead, she chose destinations where people were suffering and she believed she could help: Ghana, Belfast, Tijuana, Uganda.

But that traveling is over for WSU College of Nursing’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Accreditation. Hunter, PhD, MSN, RN, FAAN, said a recent trip to Uganda was her last.

“After 22 years I’ve got to call a stop,” said the 71-year-old. “I can’t physically sustain the stress of those trips.” Getting to Mbarara, Uganda, for example, takes 24 to 36 hours each way, including multiple flights and a 6-hour drive once she lands in the East African country.

She made the decision that her recent trip to Uganda would be her last several days before she left the country. “It was a very emotional time,” Hunter said. Bringing health care and improved public health to communities internationally “has been a passion of mine for a very long time.”  » More …

Dr. Janet Katz named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing

portrait of Dr. Janet Katz

Janet Katz

Dr. Janet Katz, Professor at the WSU College of Nursing, has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Katz will be inducted into the Academy in a ceremony in October.

She is one of 173 nurse leaders worldwide selected for induction as an Academy fellow. Selection criteria includes evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care, and sponsorship by two current Academy fellows. Applicants are judged based in part on how their nursing career has influenced health policies and public health.

Dr. Katz has worked extensively to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce, and is currently principle investigator on a federal grant to increase the number of disadvantaged, Native American and Hispanic students from rural areas in health sciences professions. She also is principle investigator for a project focusing on preventing substance abuse and suicide among young members of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Her research has included academic-practice partnerships with Native American tribes in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. She coordinates nursing programs for the Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute held annually at WSU Spokane, and teaches community health. She holds a PhD in Education, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

With the induction of the latest group of fellows in October, the American Academy of Nursing will have more than 2,500 fellows in all 50 states and 29 countries around the world.

“The fellows are nurse leaders in education, management, practice, policy and research,” the American Academy of Nursing said in a news release. “Academy fellows include hospital and government administrators, college deans, and renowned scientific researchers.”

For more information on the WSU College of Nursing, visit

For more information on the American Academy of Nursing, visit

Gordana Dermody named to national CNL certification board

Portrait of Gordana (Dana) Dermody
Portrait of Gordana (Dana) Dermody
Gordana Dermody, Phd, RN, CNL

Gordana Dermody, PhD, RN, CNL, has been named to the board of the Commission on Nurse Certification, which manages the Clinical Nurse Leader certification program. Dermody, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the WSU College of Nursing, will join the board on July 1 and will serve a three-year term.

The Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) Board of Commissioners is an autonomous arm of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and is responsible for the policies and administration of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) certification program.

The CNL credential is given to graduates of master’s and post-master’s programs who meet all eligibility requirements and pass the CNL Certification Examination. Earning the credential demonstrates proficiency on a set of national standards and a broad base of knowledge beyond the RN licensure. Since the CNL was introduced in 2006, 5,350 nurses have earned the credential.

Dermody’s nursing experience includes hospice, long-term care, occupational health, acute care medical oncology, stroke and cardiac care. She became CNL certified in 2011 and is a past board member of the Clinical Nurse Leader Association. She has worked to improve quality of care in nursing internationally, most recently on promoting the Clinical Nurse Leader role in Japan.