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College of Nursing at UTHSC Launches New Center for Community Partnerships and Nursing Innovation

Sara Day was recruited to UTHSC College of Nursing to lead the new Center for Community Partnerships and Nursing Innovation. (Photo by Thurman Hobson/UTHSC)

In an effort to advance the practice of nursing and improve community health, the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has launched a new Center for Community Partnerships and Nursing Innovation.

Led by Sara Day, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor and assistant dean in the UTHSC College of Nursing, the center is designed to develop sustainable partnerships with clinical, research, and service institutions in the Mid-South to advance health care, foster innovative nursing strategies, reduce health disparities, and improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Day said the center will work to integrate academic nursing into population health initiatives, offer education and support for evidence-based practice, expand academic leadership in clinic practice, and grow academic nursing research programs.

The center will also work with and support nurse preceptors and provide nurse scholar programs in specialty areas. It will collaborate with other institutions to establish and support post-DNP nurse practitioner fellowships, offer guidance in quality improvement initiatives, and serve as an accredited provider of continuing nursing education credits.

All of this aligns with recommendations for the future of nursing and nursing education laid out by the 2015 study, Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing, commissioned by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The study advised an expanded role for academic nursing institutions as a key to better health care.

“Really, the recommendation is to expand your horizon and work with nurses in your community and institutions because they have needs that we can serve, and by working together, it just helps both of us,” Dr. Day said.

Dr. Day is well-versed in the benefits of partnering academic and clinical nursing in the community. She has served as the director of Nursing Education and the director of International Nursing at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and as associate professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Nursing and director of Nursing Research and Evidence Based Practice at Children’s Hospital of Alabama.

Dr. Day’s career has focused on the development, implementation and management of nursing programs and models. Her programs and models have improved the outcomes of underserved children and have been implemented nationally and internationally in 15 countries. She has worked to empower nurses to provide quality nursing care and created programs to advance the nursing work environment through education and improvement in quality standards.

The results of her research have affected policy at local, national and international levels. She has 34 publications in peer-reviewed medical and nursing journals and has traveled to 16 countries to present or  implement her programs. In 2014, she was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing for her significant national and international contributions to nursing and health care.

Since joining UTHSC in late 2016, Dr. Day has been meeting with nursing leaders in the community and talking with them about their needs. She is currently working on a nurse residency partnership with the Shelby County Health Department, which is led by Alisa Haushalter, DNP, an alumna of the UTHSC College of Nursing.