Reynolds Scholars

Angela Ramey, MS, RN

Angela Ramey, MS, RN entered the OU College of Nursing PhD program in fall 2011 to address her research in preventive health promotion for post-menopausal women, subsequently becoming a 2013 recipient of the Reynolds Predoctoral Scholarship Award. Angela sees the scholar opportunity as the logical next step in a career of nursing care of women throughout the lifespan.

With a varied background in maternal-child nursing, school nursing and nursing education, Angela has witnessed the health needs of women in several settings. As her career and experiences developed, she began to cultivate a deeper interest in the aging female population, particularly the health risks associated with menopause and aging. As a nurse educator, together with her new role as a nurse researcher, Angela is determined to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to perform all the professional responsibilities required of this position, and to use her time to advance health promotion for postmenopausal women. In her recent research experience with Reynolds mentors Drs. Carol Rogers and Karen Rose, she has shown dedication to supporting health promotion in older adults and a meticulous commitment to the science of aging research. “Angela possesses a special thought for caring that is evident in the way she interacts with older adults in the community,” Dr. Rogers said.

Angela is honored to be a recipient of the Reynolds Scholarship Award and is appreciative of the enthusiasm and expertise of her Reynolds mentors. Through her experience as a Reynolds Scholar, Angela aims to combine the knowledge and expertise from her mentors with her own research to discover behavior changes that will improve health outcomes in older women.

Janis Flanagan Darley, RN, BSN, MBA, JD

As an attorney and registered nurse, Janis Flanagan Darley has combined her experience as a prosecutor and family lawyer with her passion for nursing to pursue research inquiries related to older adult maltreatment and abuse. Janis's interest in geriatric nursing took root very early in life, beginning with close relationships with her grandparents and aging family friends. She holds strong beliefs about the sanctity of life at both ends of the life spectrum and wants to help ensure the highest quality of health and life for seniors. She currently serves as a legal nurse consultant and expert witness in legal cases of alleged negligence. As a nurse scientist and advocate, Janis hopes to promote safer community and hospital environments for the prevention of older adult abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The combination of law and nursing uniquely enables Janis to make a positive impact on the health care, safety and protection of older adults through nursing science that will enhance clinical practice and health and aging policies. She sees her experience as a Reynolds Scholar as an opportunity to build on her prior education and work to improve the well-being of aging adults through science, education and community service.

“The Reynolds Scholarship provides me with a wonderful opportunity to focus on my research interests in geriatric nursing with the assistance of my mentor, Dr. Janet Wilson,” she said. “Her insight and guidance and the generous contributions of all faculty provide a rich and varied environment in which to study and learn.”

Maria Cordeiro, MS, APRN, CNP

Maria Cordeiro has served the older adult population in a variety of capacities and settings during her career. Her roles have included Director of Nursing at local nursing homes, provider expert witness in Administrative Law court and most recently, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner providing primary care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

As a result of her professional experience with the geriatric population, she believes that the burgeoning older population who are choosing to “age in place” will necessitate definitive practices at the point-of-care in determining a person’s capacity to make sound decisions. According to Cordeiro, understanding how people make decisions is essential to developing strategies that enhance and support those with some limitations. In addition, she recognizes the mental flexibility and insight someone with moderate-to-advanced dementia may exhibit. Her research focus is, therefore, on decision making and decision making capacity in older adults with cognitive impairment

Cordeiro is honored to be selected as a Reynolds Scholar and is particularly excited for the opportunity to grow as a geriatric scholar, researcher and educator under the mentorship inherent in the Reynolds program. Being a Reynolds Scholar will afford her the opportunity to focus exclusively on the development of the skills necessary to add to the knowledge regarding decisional capacity. She states, “The opportunity to engage with fellow scholars - past, present, and future - is invaluable. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of older adults and usher in a new generation of geriatric nurses.”

Lolita Martin, MSN, MA, RN

As a Reynolds Scholar, Lolita Martin counts neurocognitive health as it is affected by aging, brain-based learning strategies to reduce cognitive decline, chronic disease and pain, interdisciplilnary collaboration, chronic pain and rehabilitation; regenerative therapies, stem cell research, virtual environments, and distance learning as her research interests.

A PhD student at the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, Ms. Martin is eager to begin her research, which will focus on assisting older adults in self-care about their chronic diseases through problem-solving, recognizing out-of-range symptoms and cognitive-focused computer-based tutors, under the mentorship of Dr. Jo Azzarello.

Her professional experience includes urgent care, family health, medical missions, disaster relief, and neurological/physical rehabilitation. Her personal interest in healthy aging stems from a childhood curiosity with a family centenarian that was never frail. She has an enduring desire to learn from elders; not merely old tales or traditions, but also the art of living. She has also put some of those lessons to use as a devotee of global missions since 1987, and has traveled to over 13 countries.

She is pleased to join the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center as a Reynolds Scholar and anticipates future work as a nurse scientist conducting global research for healthy aging. She states, “Aging-in-place was a lifestyle for a generation that relied on self-sufficiency, self- preservation, and home remedies. As a Reynolds researcher, I will be conducting solid inquiry into the gift of aging and how it is done successfully, worldwide, with or without health challenges. Discoveries related to healthy aging and the older adult give insight into healthy living across the lifespan.”

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Lisa Despain, MSN, RN

Reynolds Scholar Lisa DeSpain, RN, MSN, has a passion for the welfare of older adults that was derived from her love and respect for her grandparents. “I believe older adults are a vulnerable population that deserve to have a satisfying quality of life, regardless of their mental or physical capacity. They need to feel love, a sense of belonging, security, autonomy, and self-esteem while being treated with dignity and respect by family, friends, society, and health care providers,” she says.

Lisa’s professional interest is prevention of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation within families, society, and health care facilities. She explains that, “covert emotional, financial exploitation, physical neglect, and maltreatment are difficult to detect. Vulnerable older adults are often incapable or reluctant to report the neglect or abuse to authorities.” Her desire is to study maltreatment of older adults and prevention strategies that may be tested within the community setting. Ms. DeSpain states that, “being a part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence is a wonderful opportunity to focus on my studies full-time and participate in a program that promotes interdisciplinary community based action research. This program goes above and beyond the traditional gerontology nursing education. With my mentor, Janet Wilson, PhD, RN, I will be involved with local, state, and national interdisciplinary teams to prepare me for greater responsibility as a leader in gerontology research, education, and service.”

Kimethria Jackson, RN, MSN, APRN-BC

Kimethria Jackson, RN, MSN, APRN-BC, believes that being selected as a Donald W. Reynolds Scholar will allow her to further explore her passion for caring for older adults. For Kimethria this passion began at an early age when one of her earliest and honored mentors, her mother, imparted to her the value of compassion and concern for others. According to Kimethria, the ever-increasing numbers of older adults in our society presents many health care challenges and issues which the profession of nursing must address. One such issue is Elder Abuse. Becoming a Reynolds Scholar, “is a once in a lifetime opportunity to pursue in-depth and up-close study of gerontology and acquire the scientific skill and expertise to advance the health and welfare of our aging population."

Mentoring is crucial to the success of any student and Kimethria looks forward to cementing lifelong collegial relationships with current and future scholars and nurse scientists. Kimethria anticipates that her studies as a scholar will help her bring another dimension to healthcare and nursing when she assumes the nurse scientist, educator, and leader roles in this ever-changing health care arena.

Kimethria hopes that her research in cultural elder abuse risk factors of older adult caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease will serve as a hinge upon which proactive and preventive intervention, policy, and legislation can be formulated to reduce the risk of elder abuse in Oklahoma.

According to Kimethria, who received her BSN and MSN as a family nurse practitioner from the University Of Oklahoma HSC College Of Nursing, “It is an honor and privilege to return to the University of Oklahoma as a Scholar in the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation for Excellence in Geriatrics program to further my personal growth and professional development.”

Diana Sturdevant, MS, GCNS-BC, APRN

Diana Sturdevant, MS, GCNS-BC, APRN, has been a student in the College of Nursing PhD program since Fall 2010 and received her Reynolds Scholarship in Fall of 2011.

Diana has been engaged in nursing in long-term care settings since her earliest nursing career. She presently serves as Director of Nursing Services in a long-term care facility in eastern Oklahoma. Her formal education in geriatrics includes a Master of Science degree in nursing and she is certified as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gerontology (GCNS-BC). Her expertise in geriatric care in nursing home environments was recognized by her appointment to the Governor’s Long Term Care facility Advisory Board.

Her program of research encompasses factors that improve the care experience and environment for nursing home residents. She completed a state of the science paper entitled “Sleep and Thermal Comfort in Nursing Home Residents” and presented a review of this research evidence in a poster presentation at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual scientific meeting.

Diana will focus her dissertation research on implementing “culture change” in long-term care facilities. She is already working to educate others across Oklahoma on implementing these changes and serves on the steering committee of the Oklahoma Culture Change Network. She is co-investigator on a qualitative study to determine how culture change and “person-centered care” is perceived by Directors of Nursing of long-term care facilities that are involved in changing from traditional models to person-centered models of care. She plans to continue to work in long-term care with adjunct teaching and research roles and advocate for state or national policy change to improve resident quality of life and satisfaction.

Helen Farrar MS, RN, B-C, CNE

For Helen Farrar, MS, RN, B-C, CNE, becoming a Reynolds Scholar was a life changing opportunity. Her work as a nurse educator, registered nurse, and geriatric nurse consultant with mentally ill older adults inspired a mission to improve the quality of care for this underserved population. Ms. Farrar strives to represent the highest ideals of nursing and believes that “quality nursing care means bringing all of your knowledge and skills to the table, both as a human being and as a registered nurse.” The mentorship and learning opportunities exclusive to being a Scholar at the Reynolds Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence create an opportunity for full time study that will enable concentration and focus on innovative solutions for mentally ill aging adults.

Ms. Farrar’s research focus is on the quality of care that people with chronic mental illness receive as they age. As people become older health problems may develop that potentiate existing mental health problems. How to help aging adults with mental illness, their caregivers, and families is the focus of her program of study. This population has a long history of being underserved and is vulnerable to the complexity of the modern healthcare environment, often utilizing a wide range of services for an extended period of time. Ms. Farrar believes that research in this area will enhance the ability of the healthcare community to implement models of care that reduce redundancy in services, gaps in care, and promote a high quality of care.

Carol Stewart, MS, RN, GCNS-BC

Carol Stewart, MS, RN, GCNS-BC, believes her passion for geriatric nursing grew out of a deep respect for her grandparents and their values. She says, “I enjoy working with a patient population that is still rich in history and cultural heritage.” Sooner born and bred, Carol completed her MS at the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing and is a board-certified gerontological clinical nurse specialist. She also holds a MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of Tulsa.

Carol describes the Reynolds Scholar experience as fostering valuable relationships with geriatric nursing leaders, offering opportunities for interdisciplinary translational research, and providing a fast track to development of her research program. Carol plans to research effective interventions that enable older adults with cognitive impairment to successfully continue living in the community. As Carol says, “There are many quality of life issues for both the older adult and caregivers.” Her mentor is Dr.Lazelle Benefield.

For Carol, teaching is a way to provide leadership as a nurse and to prepare a workforce that can successfully address the healthcare needs of the future. She currently teaches nursing at OU’s Tulsa campus and previously served as adjunct faculty at Rogers State University. Carol also has more than a decade of geriatric-focused clinical experience working with the SeniorCare geriatric psych unit of the Oklahoma State University Medical Center and as the manager of a psychiatric home health program for older adults at Columbia Home Health. In 2008 Carol was selected to participate in the Reynolds Center’s Oklahoma Geriatric Nursing Education Workgroup as OU’s champion for geriatric education. In addition, she recently assisted in the formation of the Oklahoma Gerontological Nursing Association group for Northeast Oklahoma.

Beth G. Hall, RN, MS, CNE

For dedicated nurse educator Beth G. Hall, RN, MS, CNE, getting a PhD has always been a personal goal. Her Reynolds Scholarship award is allowing her to focus on a full-time course of study and more quickly complete her program. According to Beth, “Nursing needs PhDs as soon as possible to do research, adding new knowledge for patient outcomes and teaching new generations of nurses about what has been found.”

Beth’s area of research is safety interventions to support aging in place. This interest emerged when she was studying safety in an acute care setting and recognized how much more of an issue safety was for older adults trying to remain at home. Her recent work centers on the informal caregiver’s role in home environmental safety. Lazelle Benefield is Beth’s Reynolds Scholar Mentor.

A homegrown product of the University of Oklahoma, Beth received both her BS and MS degrees from the university’s College of Nursing and has served on the nursing faculty since 2000. She has been recognized with several awards for excellence in teaching.

According to Beth, her development as a nurse researcher will bring another dimension to her career as an educator. She says, “Access to this scholarship is an unbelievable opportunity to get in and get the work done. The program gets you focused fast and directed into an area of research rapidly.”

Lillian Pope, RN, MSN, ARNP

Reynolds Scholar Lillian Pope, RN, MSN, ARNP, brings a passion for the geriatric population to her doctoral studies. She has worked in geriatric medicine for more than five years, both as a clinician and adjunct faculty. Lillian says, “As a nurse practitioner with experience working with homebound geriatric populations, I have a unique practical background that contributes to the creation of new forms of research in the area.”

Lillian loves teaching and lives by the phrase “each one, teach one.” She has served as adjunct faculty for the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center Department of Geriatrics and OU’s Department of African and African-American Studies and was an instructor at OU’s College of Nursing. She believes that completing her doctoral degree will further her goal to serve as an advocate for research, administration, clinical practice and leadership for health policy related to geriatric education. As she observes, “There are not enough of us who specialize in geriatrics!”

Lillian’s research focus on prevention and care of falls in the homebound geriatric patient grew out of her work as a Family Nurse Practitioner doing home-based primary care for the Veterans Administration Medical Center - Oklahoma City. With falls being one of the leading causes of death and disability in the older adult, she is interested in how to keep community dwelling elders mobile and safely ambulating.

Lillian completed the Master of Science in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner programs at Vanderbilt University, where she also served on the School of Nursing Graduate Council.

Sooner Nursing: Integrity, Compassion, Excellence