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UTHSC College of Nursing Lauds Outstanding Alumnus and Preceptors


Four University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) faculty will be honored at the College of Nursing Alumni Awards Banquet on Friday, April 27 at the Memphis Hilton.

Four University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) faculty will be honored at the College of Nursing Alumni Awards Banquet on Friday, April 27 at the Memphis Hilton. The 2007 Outstanding Alumnus Award will be presented to Ann Cashion, PhD, RN, for her research and clinical contributions, as well as her own professional development. Nursing students selected the three Outstanding Preceptors: Ricky Maestri, RN, as the Outstanding Undergraduate Clinical Preceptor; and both Pedro Velasquez, MD, and Carol Headley, DNSc, as the 2007 Outstanding Graduate Clinical Preceptors.

Dean of the UTHSC College of Nursing, Donna Hathaway, PhD, RN, said, “All four of these faculty members represent the very best in academic nursing and medicine. Each is a testimony to dedication to learning whether through research, education or patient care.”

Outstanding Alumnus

Dr. Cashion is an associate professor and director of the Center for Health Evaluation and Lifestyle Promotion (HELP Center), as well as chair of the Department of Acute and Chronic Care in the UTHSC College of Nursing. The HELP Center is a College of Nursing-led multidisciplinary research and practice center that provides health promotion management and support for individuals with chronic conditions. Dr. Cashion received her BSN from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her MNSc from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus, and her PhD from UTHSC where she has been on the faculty since 1998. In 2006, she was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Building on her clinical and research expertise in genetics, Dr. Cashion is actively involved in re-designing nursing curricula at UT to incorporate the rapidly expanding genetic content. She has presented and published numerous times on her research findings related to transplantation and genetics. In 2005, Dr. Cashion was one of 20 nurses awarded the three-year Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship. The fellowship is a leadership development program for nurses in executive positions. She serves as chair of the UTHSC Community Relations committee for the NIH-funded Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) as part of her Robert Wood Johnson Leadership Fellowship.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded UTHSC $18 million to build the RBL, which will be a site to conduct biomedical and biodefense research and training.

Dr. Cashion is the president of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics and was program chair for their 2006 Annual Conference. In 2005, she received the Founder’s Award from the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. She was also one of 10 nurse scientists featured in the Johnson & Johnson Nurse Scientist video to promote nursing research and the National Institute of Nursing Research. In September 2005, Dr. Cashion was selected to receive the Health Care Provider (Non-Physician) Award during the annual Health Care Heroes Awards, presented by Memphis Business Journal. The award recognized her role as a researcher and in improving the health of the individual.

Outstanding Preceptors

A 20-year nursing professional, Ricky Maestri has been cited for consistently demonstrating excellence in clinical education, teaching, mentoring and for his in-depth nursing knowledge. After working in the Burn Intensive Care Unit at The MED (Regional Medical Center at Memphis) for the first five years of his career, he moved to The MED’s Wound Care Center (WCC) where he practices today. Maestri is largely responsible for educating and preparing new nurses to care for the WCC patient population, which requires specialized training in hyperbaric treatments and advanced wound care therapies. On average, he devotes 12 hours per week to teaching nursing students WCC’s novel procedures, and contributes more than 96 voluntary hours to helping them learn advance wound care.

Dr. Carol Headley, a nurse practitioner, will be recognized for her consistent dedication to excellent patient care, clinical education, her knowledge of current practice issues and her mentoring of advanced practice nursing students. While guiding students in the Physical Diagnosis course for the past two years at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, she received high marks as an expert clinical resource for all aspects of care for patients with renal disease. Consistently receiving outstanding ratings from students taking the course, Dr. Headley was noted for her very active involvement with student experiences in hemodialysis. Several of Dr. Headley’s nominations for the award pointed out that she remained steadfast in her commitment to her students despite significant personal challenges.

As director of the UTHSC LifeDOC clinic, Pedro Velasquez, MD, impacts the lives of both patients and graduate nursing students. Described as a highly devoted professional by his students, he is also noted for the tremendous respect shown to the nursing profession. A firm believer in the model of inter-professional practice, Dr. Velasquez consistently demonstrates that he values nurse practitioners as the cornerstones for patient care in both primary and specialty care settings. His students note that his model of practice had led to an increased level of trust between the nursing and medical professions, as well as a deeper understanding of what each has to offer in improving patient care. As evidence of his commitment to his nursing colleagues, Dr. Velasquez worked intensively to encourage two pharmaceutical companies to sponsor the first clinical fellowship in diabetes for DNP students. He has also sponsored nursing colleagues to receive Fellowship Travel Awards, in the past given only to medical doctors.