Health & Science

Scientists Travel From China to Work With HBOI Researchers

Mangrove scientists from the People's Republic of China (PRC) spent time at FAU Harbor Branch working alongside Dr. Ed Proffitt and Dr. Donna Devlin. The collaboration is part of a cooperative agreement between Florida Atlantic University and PRC, which allows FAU graduate students to do part of their research in the mangroves of Guangzhou, China. The agreement in turn affords Chinese scientists the opportunity to travel here to study mangroves in the Indian River Lagoon and give lectures on their research.  

Picture caption: Dr. Ed Proffit traveled to the Research Institute of Tropical Forestry in Guangzhou, China last year as part of a collaboration between FAU and PRC.



FAU's College of Nursing Celebrates First-Ever White Coat Ceremony

Nearly 100 freshmen Florida Atlantic University nursing students recently took part in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing's first-ever white coat ceremony at the Boca Raton campus. FAU was one of only four universities in Florida, and 100 nationwide, to receive funding for this ceremony through a joint initiative of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (APGF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

These pilot white coat ceremonies were designed "to instill a commitment to providing compassionate care among future health professionals" and "to promote humanistic, patient-centered care among incoming nursing students," according to the APGF, themes that closely align with the College of Nursing's caring-centered approach to the nursing profession.

"The white coat ceremony was a very meaningful event that marked special milestones for our University, College and students," said Marlaine Smith, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing. "We are grateful to the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for including us in this movement in modern nursing education."

In addition to being the first nursing white coat ceremony of its kind at FAU, the College also welcomed its first class of freshmen nursing students this fall as part of the College's new freshman-direct admission program, which allows outstanding freshmen to begin their nursing studies immediately, while in their first semester at FAU.


Enhancing Patient Safety Using an Interprofessional Approach

In its 1999 report, "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System," the Institute of Medicine defines medical errors as "the failure of a planned action to be completed as intended or the use of a wrong  plan to achieve an aim." And, according to The Joint Commission, more than 80 percent of medical errors can be attributed to miscommunication.To help increase clear and efficient communication among members of the healthcare team, and, ultimately, patient safety, faculty in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing are educating the next generation of nurses with an emphasis on interprofessional communication. One way this is being accomplished is through the TeamSTEPPS® (Team Strategies to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) program, which cross-trains students from the Colleges of Nursing and Medicine.

The program was developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Department of Defense as an evidence-based curriculum for interprofessional collaborative practice promoting patient safety. Nursing and medical students sharpen their communication skills through role-playing scenarios, allowing faculty and students to reflect on the types of communication techniques that are most effective.Nursing Professors Terry Eggenberger and Kathryn Keller became Master Trainers for TeamSTEPPS® in 2009. TeamSTEPPS® was adopted as part of the nursing and medical school curricula, with nearly 700 students and more than 50 faculty members participating over the past five years.

"By taking an interprofessional approach to training through programs including TeamSTEPPS®, we are building the crucial communication skills necessary to prevent errors that are costly - financially, emotionally and medically," said Dr. Eggenberger.In addition to the TeamSTEPPS® program, FAU students in nursing, medicine and social work take joint interprofessional classes focused on health policy and the roles of various healthcare disciplines. Over the course of a year, students work together with residents of a senior living community to practice the team-based competencies they learn.

Building on their earlier work, Eggenberger and Keller are collaborating with the FAU College of Medicine's new residency program to develop an interprofessional education and practice model that will extend these efforts into local hospitals, beginning with Boca Raton Regional Hospital.


FAU Comparative Studies Student Association Presents 'Post Vital: Remaking Life and Death in Biomedicine'

The Comparative Studies Student Association (CSSA) of Florida Atlantic University presents keynote speaker Sherryl Vint from the University of California, Riverside on Friday, Oct. 24 at 1:30 p.m.. Her lecture, "Post-Vital: Remaking Life and Death in Biomedicine," will be held at the Live Oak Pavilion, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus, and is free and open to the public.

As part of the 2014 CSSA Conference, Vint will discuss how synthetic biology and organ transplantation are shaping and changing what it means to be human and/or alive. She is a professor of Science Fiction Media Studies and the co-director of the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program at the University of California, Riverside.

Vint is also an editor for the journals Science Fiction Studies and Science Fiction Film and Television. She has published widely on science fiction, including most recently "Science Fiction: A Guide to the Perplexed."

The CSSA is an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. For more information, visit


Educating Advanced Practice Nurses to Meet the Needs of Aging, Minority and Underserved Populations

This year, the College of Nursing received much needed assistance in its mission of transforming care by training the next generation of nurses to meet the needs of a changing population. The assistance came in the form of a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to fund nursing scholarships, with a total value of $1,032,144 from 2013 to 2015.

The HRSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded principal investigator, Dr. Karethy "Kay" Edwards, Professor & Associate Dean for Academic Programs, with funding through its Advanced Education Nurse Traineeship (AENT) program.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida's population nearly tripled in size between 1970 and 2010. Given the state's reputation as a retirement haven, it's not surprising that Florida's senior population has grown at a disproportionate rate compared to the rest of the country. As of 2011, Florida's senior population outpaced the national average, with 17.3 percent of Florida's population over the age of 65, compared to 13 percent nationwide, according to the Kaiser Health Foundation. In addition, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state is also home to a higher-than-the-national-average population of blacks and Hispanics, who, when compared with whites, face health disparities including obesity, infant mortality and incidence of AIDS, according to the Florida Department of Health.

"The trends in our state's population speak for themselves. The need is clear, and the College is committed to increasing the number of advanced practice nurses serving aging, multicultural, and other underserved populations in South Florida," said Dr. Edwards. "Through the HRSA grant, we are able to demonstrate this commitment to our students in a very tangible way."

In disbursing scholarships to students, emphasis is placed on supporting veterans, full-time students and students who are members of underrepresented minorities. Full-time students receive $18,650, and part-time students receive $10,200 for tuition and a stipend. Recipients, so far, have ranged from those pursuing careers as nurse practitioners to doctoral students.

Marie Bazelais, one of the scholarship recipients, said, "By awarding me with this AENT Scholarship, the College of Nursing lightened my financial burden, which allowed me to focus on the most important aspect of school - learning. As the only working adult of a family of five, I would not have been successful in the program without this act of generosity. I am currently enrolled in the BSN to DNP program and can't wait to work in the Haitian-American community, where there is so much need!"


 Last Modified 12/1/14