College of Nursing Recognizes Excellence with 2009 Alumni Awards

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This year UTHSC College of Nursing honors, Suzanne Meeks, MSN, MA, BSN, with the Most Supportive Alumna Award, and Mona Newsome Wicks, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, with the Outstanding Alumna Award.

Each year, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Nursing honors two alumni recognized by the UT Nursing Alumni Association Board of Directors as distinguished contributors to the nursing profession. This year, Suzanne Meeks, MSN, MA, BSN, has been selected to receive the Most Supportive Alumna Award, and Mona Newsome Wicks, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, is winner of the Outstanding Alumna Award. On Friday, May 8 at 12:30 p.m., the honorees will receive their awards at The Hilton Memphis, 929 Ridge Lake Blvd., during an alumni awards and reunion luncheon. The event is part of the college’s annual “Nursing Alumni Day” activities.

Suzanne Meeks started her career as a nurse practitioner, but moved her expertise into nursing instruction, management and independent practice administration. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1956 from the University of Cincinnati, a master’s degree in gerontology from the University of South Florida in 1971, and a master’s degree in nursing from the UT Health Science Center in 1977.

Meeks held her first position in the late 1950s as an emergency room nurse for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She left her profession for a few years to raise her family and later re-entered as a nursing instructor. She spent the next 16 years in nursing education. One of her roles included serving as director of the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing.

Later in her career, the nurse educator seized an opportunity to utilize her knowledge of gerontology and geriatric nursing by serving as director of nursing at Memphis Jewish Home. In this capacity, Meeks worked with respected colleagues and friends to establish the nurse practitioner program at the Home. After 10 years of service to the Home, Meeks began an independent nursing practice as a geriatric care manager, a role she held until retirement in 2007.

Meeks eventually served as an adjunct professor at the UT College of Nursing, providing occasional lectures and seminars on developing an independent nursing practice.

Mona Newsome Wicks approaches her roles as a nursing researcher and instructor with a focus on the highest levels of quality. The well-trained professional received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Memphis in 1981, a master’s degree in medical and surgical nursing from the UT College of Nursing in 1987, and a doctorate degree in nursing from Wayne State University in 1992.

On the faculty of the UT College of Nursing since 1987, Dr. Wicks is currently a professor and associate dean for research. She mentors students in the college’s doctoral program, acts as guest lecturer for doctoral courses, and mentors minority undergraduate students for nursing careers. Dr. Wicks is a grant reviewer for the American Nurses Foundation, the Southern Nursing Research Society, and the Adult and Older Adult Study Section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).

Dr. Wicks’ research and publications are focused on minority health and patient-caregiver issues that involve chronic lung disease or end-stage renal disease. She is currently conducting a study funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research to test an intervention for reducing depression and anxiety in African-American women caring for relatives receiving hemodialysis.

Dr. Wicks speaks nationwide on teaching cultural competency and conducting family-based research, and has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her teaching and mentoring skills. Her awards and honors include: finalist, Memphis Business Journal Healthcare Heroes (non-physician) in 2008; the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Leader Fellowship Award for 2008-2011; the UTHSC Chancellor’s Distinguished Educator Award in 2003-2006, and the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award in 2002 from the Southern Regional Educational Board’s Compact for Faculty Diversity division.

Dr. Wicks is a former president of the Greater Memphis Area Chapter of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and is a lifetime member of this organization. The expert is also affiliated with the American and Tennessee Nurses Associations, Sigma Theta Tau International (Beta Theta Chapter at-large), the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science, and the Southern Nurses Research Society. As a service to the community, Dr. Wicks mentors African-American high school and college students interested in health and science careers, and teaches health awareness at her church.