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Indiana University School of Nursing

The Pulse of Indiana Nursing

A joint publication of the Indiana University School of Nursing and the Indiana University School of Nursing Alumni Association
E-Volume 1: June 2017

Table of contents

Students studying health policy at IU School of NursingExpanding program helps develop nurse leaders in health policy, advocacy

Influencing public policy is something lawyers and lobbyists do. That’s what Liz Linden thought before taking IU School of Nursing’s health policy course, part of the required curriculum for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students.

“The course challenged me to look at what I can bring to health policy as a professional nurse leader,” said Linden, associate chief nursing officer at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. “The exposure I got both in class and in our two-day intensive at the [Indiana] statehouse is that legislators want to hear from experts, and in healthcare policy, as a nurse, that’s me.”

Linden is one of many students inspired—and empowered—to learn more about the role of nurse leaders in health policy. The course and IUSON’s burgeoning portfolio of policy, advocacy, and engagement programs make this possible, offering real-world experiential learning opportunities to students outside the classroom.

In the past five years, IU School of Nursing, under the direction of Sharron Crowder, PhD, clinical assistant professor, has expanded its offerings to help advanced degree students learn more about how they can influence healthcare issues. Crowder is pictured above in red with (back row, l to r) Senator Ed Clere, John Grew, and Jason King; front row (l to r) Marty Cangeny, Wanda Thruston, and Emily Sego.

Some of IUSON’s experiential opportunities include:

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit – Annual three-day conference in Washington, DC, exposing students to the federal legislative process and nursing’s role in advocacy
  • Legislative Fellowship – A semester-long fellowship experience with Indiana State Representative Edward Clere and collaborations with John Grew, Indiana University Government Relations
  • Advocacy practicums – Projects focused on particular topics or issues, often working with community organizations
  • IUPUI Academy Health – Interdisciplinary approach; IU School of Nursing and the IU School of Public Health started a student chapter of Academy Health, a national advocacy organization focused on improving healthcare delivery
  • IUSON-Franciscan Health Policy Partnership – Unique collaboration to develop policy and advocacy leadership initiatives among practicing nurses

“The nursing profession, including professional and accrediting organizations, has realized the need for nurses to be involved, to use our voices, and be at the table helping decision-makers shape health policy,” said Dr. Crowder, whose passion for advocacy started with her work on behalf of children with asthma. “Preparing nurse leaders for this responsibility means offering diverse experiential learning opportunities that will spur students to move forward after graduation with greater influence and impact.”

Marty Cangany, a mental health and med-surgical clinical nurse specialist at Franciscan Health, was one of the first IUSON students to participate in the School’s legislative fellowship. Since graduating from the DNP program in 2014, she has worked with non-profit organizations and Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt to raise awareness of substance abuse and the state’s opioid epidemic. Already an advocate for teen substance abuse before starting the doctoral program, Cangany, who lost her son to an accidental methadone overdose, said the health policy course and programs at IUSON motivated her to learn more.

“Dr. Crowder’s class was one of those ‘a-ha’ moments in realizing the opportunities I have from a public policy perspective to make a difference with issues that are near and dear to my heart,” said Cangany, who has testified in front of state legislative study committees on methadone and opioids. “Our voices as nurses have tremendous power and impact.”

While a graduate student at IUSON, Wanda Thruston, DNP, PNP, RN, clinical assistant professor, IU School of Nursing, participated in both the legislative fellowship program and attended the AACN Student Policy Summit. She’s currently in her ninth year as a member of the Washington Township School Board in Indianapolis and is a board member of Healthy Teen Network.

“To be good healthcare providers, we need to understand what our patients and their families are going through,” Thruston said. “It’s not just the Affordable Care Act; there are many decisions that are made nationally and locally that impact the health of our community.”

For Cangany, Thruston and other graduate students, IUSON’s health policy programs provide a foundation on which to build. Since completing the legislative fellowship with Rep. Clere, Emily Sego, director of clinical management for St. Vincent’s cardiovascular service line, has met with her state representative and contacted the St. Vincent government relations officer to express her interest in assisting with health policy efforts.

“Without the legislative fellowship, I wouldn’t have known how to network and make connections,” Sego said. “I learned not only how the legislative process works, but how to confidently and strategically present my opinions in an effective way.”

After taking IUSON’s health policy course as an elective, Audrey Hopper, BSN, RN, CPN, a predoctoral fellow at IUSON, is more aware of how clinical research can help improve health policymaking.

“We need innovative research to inform policy to know where and how to decrease stress and increase resilience for patients and families,” explained Hopper, who is engaged in behavioral research with pediatric cancer patients and their families. "I fell in love with research as a way to better understand and help the families that I cared for at the bedside. I want to continue this work and share it with others at the local, state, and national (policy) levels."

With many of IUSON’s health policy initiatives serving as models for nursing schools nationwide, Dr. Crowder said the real success lies in the number of students who have used their knowledge in health policy and engagement to drive change and make an impact in their communities and health systems.

“It’s rewarding to see students who have had these experiences and one, two, three years later are still motivated and moving forward in leadership roles,” she said. “We’re committed to expanding students’ horizons and preparing them to be transformational leaders in healthcare.”

Study abroad brings world view into focus

Like many careers today, nursing is a global profession. Through an expanding and dynamic portfolio of study abroad opportunities, IU School of Nursing (IUSON) offers students the chance to gain new understanding and perspectives of healthcare around the world.

Group of students in Swaiziland

“I love to learn about new cultures and about how other people in the world live their daily lives,” said IUSON senior Allie Hetrick, who traveled to Swaziland with IUSON in June 2016. She is pictured on the right, front row, with some of her colleagues. “It was really special to connect with patients from another culture and have them welcome me during a time when they are vulnerable.”

A field placement at Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini, Swaziland, not only sharpened Allie’s nursing skills, it put her in touch with her family history. Both her grandmother and great-grandmother were nurses at the same hospital in the 1950s and 1960s, and her father lived in Swaziland when he was a young boy.

“When I found out the school sponsored a trip to Swaziland, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

For Allie, the two-week experience was eye-opening, with plenty of insight to help her prepare for a career as an emergency department nurse.

“One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is that I’ve become more culturally competent,” she said, emphasizing the importance of understanding other cultures when delivering care. “You never know what patients anywhere are going through – including those here in the states, which continues to be such a cultural melting pot.”

IUSON senior Taylor Carpenter, who traveled with the school to Pamplona, Spain, in May 2016, also says the experience helped her gain cultural awareness.

Group of students in Spain

“I’ve learned to keep an open mind and be more aware of cultural differences when caring for patients,” said Taylor. “Even though it was really interesting to see that although we speak different languages and live differently, we really are very similar. Taylor is pictured to the left with other nursing students from around the world.

In addition to the programs in Swaziland and Spain, IUSON has sponsored study abroad trips to Liberia and China and is exploring partnerships in Japan, Cuba, England, and Germany.

“Our goal is to create leaders to help solve global health problems,” said Mary Beth Riner, PhD, associate dean for global affairs. “In addition to ensuring students have opportunities to study abroad, we work with faculty to imbed global perspectives within all of our courses.”

Dean Newhouse and the Nagy'sA call to serve and a chance to give back

For IU School of Nursing master’s program alumna Catherine Nagy, caring for patients is a calling. And for nearly 40 years, Indiana University was the place she fulfilled it.

“I felt a lot of loyalty to IU,” said Catherine. “This is where I felt I was doing my best work. It offered me a wonderful opportunity to work with patients, be part of clinical research, and to see the effects of that research in practice." She is pictured on the left, with Dean Newhouse and her husband, Paul.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Catherine, who earned her nursing degree at Columbia University, and Paul moved to Indiana in 1967. Paul Nagy, PhD, had been offered a position as one of the first faculty members at the newly established Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He eventually became chair of the IUPUI Liberal Arts department and today is a professor emeritus of philosophy at the school.

Shortly after arriving in the Hoosier state, Catherine began working as a nurse in the post-surgery ward at Robert Long Hospital at IU Medical Center. In 1976, she met the now world-renowned Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, a board-certified oncologist who had recently joined the IU School of Medicine faculty. The two talked, and Dr. Einhorn asked Catherine to join his practice, marking what she called the “beginning of a wonderful life experience and professional experience.”

“He had an openness about him as he approached the care of patients,” Catherine explained. “He made caring for patients so central that everyone who served the patient, including nurses, were equally important and had a role.”

As an oncology nurse, Catherine was directly involved in Dr. Einhorn’s research—work that ultimately led to his groundbreaking discovery of a cure for testicular cancer, the treatment that saved the life of cyclist Lance Armstrong and countless others.

“To be directly involved in research—to help collect data, write, and present papers—was a great honor,” said Catherine, who earned a master’s degree from IU School of Nursing while working for the IU Department of Medicine. “Dr. Einhorn opened so many doors for me and the nurses who worked with him.”

Although Catherine found the research rewarding, serving patients was her passion. Over the course of her career she worked with patients in oncology, hematology, and immunology—caring for people who often needed extra support and intervention.

“I was only a phone call away, and all phone calls got answered the same day. I could be in touch with the physician when patients were having problems, and I felt like I was truly making a difference,” Catherine explained. “All patients need advocates, and nursing is the best advocate role there is.”

And she did make a difference. It’s been 11 years since Catherine retired from IU, and Paul says she still receives Christmas cards at their home in Arizona from the families of patients she cared for.

“Catherine found her calling—and it really was a calling—in patient care,” Paul added.

Today, Catherine and Paul, married for 51 years and the parents of four adopted children, say they’ve been “partners in everything,” including their gratitude for their time at IU.

“So many things opened up for us at Indiana University,” Paul said. “We always say that IU made a life for us for 50 years.”

Recognized this spring with the IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award for their contributions to the School of Liberal Arts, the Nagys established the Paul and Catherine Nagy Endowment for American Studies and the Paul and Catherine Nagy Chair in Classical American Philosophy. In this same spirit, they have designated a planned gift to support scholarships for graduate students in the IU School of Nursing’s Master of Science in Nursing program.

“Education is the solution to problems in the world, and the only way progress is made is for people to expand their capabilities,” Catherine said. “Nursing has been so rewarding for me; we’d like to help others fulfill that same dream.”

IU School of Nursing faculty Susan HendricksFaculty Innovating for Nursing Education: New entity seeks to leverage School's existing strengths

Promoting innovation and excellence in nursing education has been a fundamental part of IU School of Nursing’s mission since the school’s founding in 1914. Today, faculty members throughout the school develop and support best practices that lead to cutting-edge nursing education initiatives. To leverage and build upon these established strengths, the School is launching FINE – Faculty Innovating for Nursing Education – a collaborative framework encompassing four areas of excellence in nursing education that currently exist within IUSON:

  1. Educator preparation – The courses, degrees, and certificates related to preparing nurses to educate others
  2. Educator development – Internal and external degree offerings (orientation services, continuing education, and consultation) that promote excellence in nursing education 
  3. Scholarship and research in nursing education – Services and structures covering scholarship and research development in nursing education
  4. International education – Educator preparation initiatives, such as consultation and student experiences, to lead educational innovation in improving health outcomes locally, nationally, and globally.

“FINE is an organizing structure to help us better integrate all of the excellent work in nursing education research that’s already taking place at the school and which we’ve always been committed to,” said Susan Hendricks, EdD, MSN, RN, CNE, associate dean for undergraduate programs. “Through FINE, we’ll have an overarching way of organizing and connecting these efforts for synergistic outcomes.”

FINE’s framework is designed to create both internal and external benefits. Within the school, FINE will focus on the needs of IUSON faculty, offering both resources and connections to improve teaching. Externally, FINE, as an entity committed to innovation, will cultivate and develop products and services – some with revenue-generating potential – to benefit other institutions, especially smaller schools with limited resources.

“With the expertise of our faculty and using IUSON as the incubator for developing best practices, through FINE we envision great potential for developing best-practice programs that other schools will value and want to take part in,” said Dr. Hendricks.

Nursing student working with a familyIUSON and Nurse-Family Partnership: Community health up close and personal

At just 21 months, Josiah (“JoJo” to family and friends) recites the alphabet, recognizes numbers, knows all the colors of the rainbow and says “I love you.” He’s more intellectually advanced than most children his age, thanks to the hands-on teaching of his mother, Par Mawi, a Burmese immigrant who arrived in Indiana three years ago. They are pictured in the photo with IU School of Nursing student Jordan Sobasky. Since before JoJo was born, Par has received weekly visits from registered nurses from Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), an evidence-based maternal and early childhood health program focused on helping first-time parents and their babies achieve long-term success. The program is available at no cost to eligible mothers.

Last fall, IU School of Nursing, as part of efforts to redesign its curriculum to more closely reflect community needs and healthcare trends, began a partnership with NFP, implemented locally by Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana.

“Families who work with Nurse-Family Partnership have improved prenatal health, better birth outcomes and more advanced child development and school readiness,” says Meg Moorman, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, clinical assistant professor, community and health systems. “The organization is a perfect exemplar to show our students how a need in the community was identified and can be impacted by an intervention focusing on disease prevention, health promotion, and access to care.”

The partnership allows IUSON students to job shadow NFP nurses as they make their home visits. Students observe the prenatal and well-child visits and assist with clinical tasks, such as recording the child’s weight, taking the mother’s blood pressure, and reviewing the weekly wellness plan with the family.

“Many of the clients don’t have support systems or know where to go for help, and the NFP nurses are very knowledgeable and always able to give them advice and answers,” said Jordan Sobasky, a junior nursing student who attended four NFP home visits as part of her clinical coursework. “These nurses have amazing connections in the community–something I learned is so important in community health nursing.”

In addition to the job shadowing, the current partnership includes a shared faculty position. Lisa Sledge, MSN, RN, has worked as a nurse-home visitor for Nurse-Family Partnership since 2012 and is also a clinical instructor at IUSON. Dr. Moorman said the intent is to grow the partnership with plans for the school and faculty to help NFP write and facilitate simulations to teach their nurses how to manage low-frequency, high-intensity clinical situations that may occur during the home visits. Faculty may also lend their expertise to help the organization update and refine their onboarding modules.

“For our students, the NFP partnership really emphasizes the need to think about healthcare on all levels—how it affects the individual, her family, and her community,” Dr. Moorman said. “All three are vital parts of community health.”

For more information about NFP, visit

Alumni news

Alumni weekend - 2017

collection of images from reunion weekend

1. Susan Pfettscher, class of 1967
2. Eric Newsom (left), out-going alummi board president, receiving an award of appreciation from Andrea Simpson, assistant vice chancellor and executive director for Alumni Engagement. All will miss his dedication, energy, and excellent leadership.
3. Old friends are the best.
4. Phyllis Ritchey (l) and Priscilla Jackson Kilman, both class of 1962
5. Andrea Yvette Moore Walton (l) and Julie Snyder, both class of 1982
6. Karin Comastri (l) and Ruth Miller, both class of 1987
7. Ball Residence tea cups
8. Members of the class of 1967, left to right: Joan Alfred, Beverly Henley Bishop, Ellie Bullerdick Corey,Carol Wheeler-Kent Hermes, Penny Nicols Bodkin, Susan Pfettscher, Carole Blaemire Pepa, and Sharon Werner Herdon
9. Judy Zinn (l) and Marjorie Applegate, class of 1957. Marge is in the picture she's holding - the seated nurse on the left.
10. Carol Mravinac, class of 1977
11. Neither wind or rain will keep IUSON students from lending a hand at reunion festivities.
12. Class of 1977. Back row, left to right: Carol Willey Showers, Dianne Glidden Krull, Janet Meyer Opperman, Rae Schnuth, Rebecca Torzewski, and Diane Nyari. Front row seated, from left, Julie Golonka, Maren Kolin Breitwieser, and Carol Mravinac
13. Stephanie Preston, class of 1997

To see more photos like these and download copies, visit our Flickr site!

Alumni weekend awards

Deborah DeMeesterDeborah A. DeMeester, pictured to the left with Alumni Association president Eric Newsom, received the Special Recognition Award. Established in 1978, this award is presented to either an individual or group who has provided significant contributions of time, energy, and aid to the growth and development of the Indiana University School of Nursing, and/or its Alumni Association. Dr. DeMeester is a key leader in the School of Nursing who works with new faculty and students to have a highly productive and satisfying experience. 

Deborah Stiffler '03, pictured on the right with Alumni Association president Eric Newsome, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Established in 1974, the Distinguished Deborah StifflerAlumni Award is presented annually to an outstanding alumna/alumnus of the Indiana University School of Nursing who is nationally or internationally recognized for significant professional and/or academic contributions to the field of nursing and/or healthcare. Dr. Stiffler is recognized for actively providing exceptional service to the IU School of Nursing, the IUPUI Campus, the state of Indiana, and globally to the nation of Liberia.

Jayme Little

Meet Jayme Little

Jayme Little, director of Alumni Programs, is our new partner in the IU Alumni Association. Jayme has been with IUPUI for over 10 years working on a variety of projects for the IUPUI Office of Alumni Relations. For seven of those years he worked with IU School of Medicine alumni and had the privilege of working with many IU School of Nursing alumnae. In addition to supporting alumni efforts for the School, Jayme also supports alumni programming with the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, the School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, and he advises the Student Organization for Alumni Relations and the IUPUI Regatta Steering Committee.

Dean Robin Newhouse - Graduation 2017

Dean Robin Newhouse presided over graduation ceremonies on Mother's Day, May 14, 2017. "It is rewarding beyond words to have watched the development of these students as leaders. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to hear about what they've done as well as their future plans. I know they are well-prepared for their careers as advanced practice and clinical nurses, scientists, and faculty. It's an exciting time!" The IUPUI campus conferred degrees on 354 students over the academic year - 266 BSN, 65 MSN, 17 DNP, and 6 PhD. Congratulations to all!

Large group of shots from graduation

I'm an IU Nurse - Lillian Stokes, Associate Professor Emerita

Dr. Lillian Stokes
Lillian Stokes does not have trouble identifying her impact on the IU School of Nursing. "I championed for diversity in the School," she said.

Her 40-year history at the IU School of Nursing involved serving as a teacher and administrator. The first five of those years involved facilitating learning among diverse groups of students. Stokes also had a soft spot for the guided studies students, who lacked certain prerequisites for full admission to the program.

"Supporting these highly-motivated, compassionate students heightened my interest in teaching even more," she said. "I am proud to say these students went on to provide significant contributions to the profession of nursing."

In 1996, she was appointed as director of Diversity and Enrichment, where she created an environment of respect for differing cultural values.

Outcomes of her work were the develpment, approval, and display of a diversity statement that increased recruitment, propelled new activities at the school, retention, and graduation of underrepresented students, and general appreciation for diverse students. In addition to showing students the value of diversity, Stokes wanted to grow their appreciation for education. "I had a strong interest in convincing students that learning could be fun and void of excessive stress," she said. "Even after my 40 years of work, I still receive messages from students I had 20 years ago. That brings so much joy to my life."

After a long and successful career of teaching, Stokes hopes former students recognize that nurses are capable of breaking the glass ceiling and pursuing a myriad of careers. "Nurses are truthfully everywhere," she said. "You can be an educator working in academia, a policymaker, a researcher, a consultant, and so much more. The sky is no longer the limit."

Did you know?

The first five graduates of the IU School of Nursing

One hundred years ago - June 13, 1917 - IU School of Nursing graduated its first class. They were Marie Myrle Bratton of Brownsburg, IN; Lucy Ellen Gilley of Shoals, IN; Josephia Amada Grima of Matamoras, Tamaulipas, Mexico; Mary Ruth Groenier of Greensburg, IN; and Bertha Ellen Rizer of Worthington, IN.


Phyllis DexterLongtime IU School of Nursing faculty member Phyllis Dexter passed away on May 30, 2017. She is remembered by all who knew her during the 43 years she spent at IU School of Nursing as an outstanding nurse, editor, and colleague with a kind heart and gentle spirit. In her role as Scientific Editor in the Center for Research, she had a careful hand in almost every aspect of research publication at the School.  Her dedication will remain unmatched and she will be sorely missed by us all. 

2017 >>

June 23
Symphony on the Prairie for IUSON Dean's Council Members

July 20, 5:30 pm
Alumni gathering: Nursing Happy Hour

August 21, 6pm
Induction Ceremony - Fall Semester
IUPUI Campus Center, 4th floor

September 6, 2pm
Nursing Emerita Board Member's Tea and Memories

September 23
IUSON alumni appreciation at the IUPUI Regatta

November 7
Alumni appreciation event at American Public Health Association conference

October 29, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm
Alumni and friends reception at Sigma Theta Tau Biennial Convention in Indianapolis

December 8, 6pm
IUPUI Holiday Night at the Indianapolis Children's Museum

IU School of Nursing logo
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Sally Krause, 
Editor, Director of Marketing and Strategic Communications

Jill Jansen, writer

Janet McCully, 
Director of Development

Jayme Little, 
Director of Alumni Programs