Memphis, Tenn. (Aug. 15, 2013) – Melody Norris Waller, MSN, RN, an instructor in the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, was chosen one of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future Fall 2013 Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars.
A second-year PhD student, Waller, a resident of Cordova, is also an instructor in the BSN/MSN programs at UTHSC. She teaches reproductive health nursing, medication safety and nursing skills using simulation. Her research interest focuses on women’s health, specifically HIV prevention for African American women.
Waller began her nursing career as a staff nurse in the maternity unit at then-Methodist Germantown Hospital. She has worked at UTHSC College of Medicine in maternal-fetal research, served as a research nurse coordinator for the UTHSC College of Nursing and has been an instructor of nursing at UTHSC for four years.
Waller has also been a faculty mentor for the nursing chapter of the Black Student Association at UTHSC and a faculty volunteer on various community service projects.
She feels she is “contributing to the overall health of our nation” through her nursing career. “During times when we have health disparities that are affecting certain groups, I feel I am in a position, as a researcher and an educator, to address the specific health needs of different ethnic or minority groups,” Waller said.
The award, which carries an $18,000 per year scholarship that is renewable based on funding and performance, was launched in 2007 to enhance racial and ethnic diversity within the nurse faculty population in the United States by providing financial support, mentoring and leadership development to graduate students committed to teaching in schools of nursing after graduation. Recipients must attend the AACN’s annual faculty development conference and meet regularly with a mentor.
“The program is highly competitive and winners are selected by a national panel of deans and faculty leaders based on their academic merits and their plans for serving in future faculty roles,” said Robert Rosseter, chief communications officer for the AACN.
“The nursing shortage is negatively impacted by a shortage of nursing faculty,” said Tommie L. Norris, DNS, RN, associate dean of the BSN/MSN programs at UTHSC. “This shortage of faculty, especially from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, poses a threat to the future nursing workforce and the provision of quality health care. Melody Waller was an excellent choice for this scholarship. Her enthusiasm to share her expertise through innovative teaching methods that increase retention of minority and at-risk students will certainly be valued by her students.”
Waller said she is honored by the award. “I do think that it is an extremely prestigious award, and I want to fulfill my role in carrying forward the gift that was given to me,” she said.