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Upcoming Events

Monday, February 4, 2012
6:30-9:00 pm

Psychiatric Mental Health Alumni Reception
Columbia University Alumni Center
622 W 113th St. (btwn. Broadway and Riverside)
New York, NY

Join us for this annual reunion of alumni from the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program.

Contact and RSVP: Denise Yankou, or 212-305-6043

Friday, Apr. 26, 2013
Save the Date
Alumni Reunion 2013
Bard Hall
50 Haven Avenue
New York, NY 10032

In Hurricane Sandy’s Wake, CUSON Students and Faculty Take Action

The devastation that Hurricane Sandy caused in parts of New York revealed leaders among Columbia University School of Nursing students and faculty, who organized volunteers, performed manual labor, and raised money for storm victims during the weeks following the October 29 storm.

Combined BS/MS student Jillienne Jordan, a native of the devastated Belle Harbor community in Rockaway, Queens, started organizing volunteers with her sister Jaime immediately following the storm, helping storm victims rebuild their homes. The Jordans took action "before FEMA, before the Red Cross, before any assistance arrived," according to a CBS Evening News segment about the Jordans’ relief efforts.

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Rockaway volunteer David Squires (left) with CUSON students Claire Kiefer, Rebecca Weiss, & Azsha Matthews

Assistant professors of clinical nursing Jeanne Churchill, DNP and Karin Desjardins, DNP organized their students in the relief efforts and the school covered the cost of vans to transport them. Drs. Desjardins and Churchill also went to Belle Harbor with supplies including food, toys, juice and cleaning supplies.

The students spent at least two weekends assisting Belle Harbor storm victims, making an especially large impact during an outing led by Combined BS/MS student Claire Kiefer on November 11. Equipped with mops, bleach, garbage bags, carbon monoxide detectors, face masks, and gloves, 17 students travelled to the devastated Belle Harbor community via rental vans as part of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys emergency response teams into crisis situations. They spent the day cleaning basements and garages, shoveling sand away from houses and cars, and bringing up molded floor tiles. The School of Nursing contributed $1,000 toward supplies and rental vans.

"As nursing students, we strive to improve the lives of all people," said Ms. Kiefer. “We tried to make a difference for people whose lives were affected close to home.”

Meanwhile, Anna Lederman, a student in the Nurse Midwifery Program, has been helping storm victims in two hard-hit Brooklyn neighborhoods. Immediately following the storm, Ms. Lederman put her nursing skills and fluent Russian to use in Coney Island, successfully identifying and meeting the needs of people in shelters and vulnerable residents trapped in apartment buildings without electricity.

She has since refocused her efforts on Gerritsen Beach, delivering clothing, supplies, and hot meals door-to-door — and has recruited midwifery students and midwives to join her.

Residents of Gerritsen Beach were especially affected by the storm, said Ms. Lederman, because they were not ordered to evacuate. A month later, the neighborhood is still without electricity and many homes are entirely destroyed.

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Ms. Lederman

She and Allison LaCross ’12, a Doctor of Nursing Practice student and Nurse Midwifery Program graduate, organized the entire CUSON Nurse Midwifery Program, as well as New York-area midwives and midwifery students from other schools, to form NYC Midwives Hurricane Relief. The group is delivering supplies door-to-door, sometimes walking up and down dozens of flights of stairs in the dark. It also sponsored a pizza dinner for 150 storm victims on November 21 after learning that many had not eaten a hot meal since the storm hit.

The local chapter of the Association of Certified Nurse Midwives voted to donate $5,000 towards the group’s relief efforts. Ms. Lederman and her friend, Rachel Cullen, have raised another $5,000 from family, friends, and strangers. "I have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity, and their willingness to help," said Ms. Lederman.

Click here to read an interview with Ms. Lederman in New York Magazine and here to watch her in a Voice of America news video.

CUSON faculty members have also played key roles in relief efforts. Assistant professor of nursing Elizabeth Cohn, DNSc, a former firefighter, spent a three-day weekend volunteering at a shelter for medically fragile people. And, in an example of students and faculty working together, assistant professor of clinical nursing Christina Araujo, MS will lead students from the Combined BS/MS Program as they return to Rockaway on Christmas Eve.

Sarah Sheets Cook, DNP, Honored for 50 Years of Service

School of Nursing dean Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD hosted a reception for vice dean Sarah Sheets Cook, DNP, who announced her retirement after nearly 50 years of service to Columbia University School of Nursing and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Faculty, staff, and friends celebrated Dr. Cook’s many accomplishments dating back to her time as a staff nurse at Babies Hospital (now Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital) in 1964. During her time at CUSON, Dr. Cook helped modernize the School’s curriculum by implementing nurse practitioners as clinical mentors for students and developing such courses and programs as a Combined BS/MS Program for non-nurse college graduates, a master’s specialty in acute care, and courses in genetics and human development. She also co-developed the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program and became a Columbia alumna when she graduated with her DNP degree in 2005.

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(left-right): Dr. Cook; assistant professor of nursing Karen Desjardins, DNP; clinical director Sunni Levine, MS; & assistant professor of clinical physiology in nursing Sally Aboelela, PhD

At the reception, Dr. Berkowitz announced that the School of Nursing’s new building will name a meeting room for Dr. Cook. "I trust that having this conference room associated with Sarah will infuse it with good karma — and that her humor, grace, wit, arched eyebrow, perceptive comments, and incisive mind will inspire all its future users," said the dean.

Dr. Berkowitz also noted the numerous Annual Fund gifts made in Dr. Cook’s honor to date. These gifts represent a meaningful way to honor Sarah Sheets Cook and her deep connection to the School of Nursing’s students – many of whom benefit directly from the Annual Fund each year. To make your gift in honor of Dr. Cook, follow this secure link.

The American Nurse Project: A Photographic Celebration of Nurses and Nursing across the US

The American Nurse is an inspiring photo essay book of 75 portraits and interviews with nurses working in our nation’s healthcare system, including CUSON alumni Meagan Shipley ’07 ’10 and Mary Helen Barletti ’93. On December 4, author and photographer Carolyn Jones and American Nurse Project sponsor Rhonda Collins, MSN presented a photographic slideshow to CUSON students, faculty, alumni, and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital nursing community. Mary Dickey Lindsay Professor of Nursing Nancy Reame, PhD introduced Ms. Jones and Ms. Collins, who also sponsored and recognized Ms. Barletti, who was in attendance. The book features 75 moving portraits of nurses working on the frontlines in such settings as the district with the highest hunger rate in New York City, a VA hospital in San Diego, and a penitentiary in Louisiana. A Q&A with the author and a book raffle followed the presentation. Copies of the book are for sale online.

Global Health News

Each year, CUSON students travel to La Romana, Dominican Republic, to care for patients at La Clínica de la Familia and learn about the health and life of Dominican culture. While completing clinical credit requirements under the supervision of a CUSON faculty member, they work collaboratively with students from the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the School of Public Health to help improve the quality of care. This year, students in first portion of the Combined BS/MS Program visited La Clinica in April, while master’s students traveled in August. Field reports from faculty supervisor Rebekah Ruppe, DNP, an assistant professor of clinical nursing, and students Corrie Shattenkirk and Lisa Stibitz were chronicled on Facebook (you do not need a Facebook account to read).

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(left-right): Students Primrosa Cardenas, Rita Marie Anderson, Lisa Stibitz, & Corrie Shattenkirk at the Sigma Theta Tau poster presentation

Assistant professors of clinical nursing Norma Hannigan, DNP, who traveled to La Clinica this spring, and Kristine Takamiya, DNP, director of the Adult Nurse Practitioner Program, recently appeared on WABC-TV about a new component to CUSON’s involvement in La Clinica – a webinar that enables CUSON students in New York and medical professionals in La Romana to learn from each other. Dr. Hannigan got the idea for the webinar during her most recent clinic visit, realizing that while it’s not possible or practical for all students to visit La Romana, long distance learning could provide the same benefits.

Additionally, the Alpha Zeta chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International hosted a poster presentation highlighting the work of students who traveled to La Clinica this year. Presenters included Primarosa Cardenas, Rita Marie Anderson, Lisa Stibitz, and Corrie Shattenkirk. Click here to view Ms. Cardenas’s poster, and here to learn more about global health at CUSON.

Presentations and Awards

Alumni Professor of Nursing Suzanne Bakken, PhD received an honorable mention for the Irving Institute 2012 Mentor of the Year Award. The Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research recognized Dr. Bakken for providing exceptional support for students, fellows, faculty, and colleagues at Columbia University Medical Center. She received the award during a ceremony at the Pilot Awards Luncheon on December 10.

Professor of nursing Judy Honig, DNP, EdD is among a select group of Seton Hall University College of Nursing alumni inducted into the college’s Hall of Honor on December 2. Dr. Honig was selected for her outstanding contributions to nursing.

Kristine Kulage, MA, director of CUSON’s Office of Scholarship & Research and a student at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, was elected as a student member of the New York Academy of Medicine.

Assistant professor of nursing Lusine Poghosyan, PhD delivered a podium presentation, "Nurse Practitioners as Primary Care Providers: Creating Favorable Work Environments in Massachusetts and New York State," at the inaugural Michigan Symposium on Effectiveness and Implementation Research at the University of Michigan School of Nursing in Ann Arbor. Dr. Poghosyan will also participate in a meeting of prominent health economists and health human resource experts that will aim to develop a framework for the economic evaluation of nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. The meeting is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and will take place in Toronto on January 10.

Mary Dickey Lindsay Professor of Nursing Nancy Reame, PhD is now featured as a menopause expert on, a website that offers health-education videos on a variety of topics for millions of viewers per month. Dr. Reame, a nurse-physiologist and women's health researcher, speaks on menopause symptom management and other topics. Click here to watch her videos.

Assistant professor of nursing Jingjing Shang, PhD presented “Supplemental Nurses in Hospitals and Patient Outcomes” at the 2012 State of the Science Congress on Nursing Research, hosted by the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science in Washington, DC . Dr. Shang also co-authored a paper, "Hospital Use of Agency-Employed Supplemental Nurses and Patient Morality and Failure to Rescue," that recently appeared in Health Services Research.

Senior associate dean Jan Smolowitz, DNP, EdD and associate dean Judy Honig, DNP, EdD presented "Building the Next Generation of Advanced Practice Nurses through Clinical Education and Faculty Practice" at the Royal College of Nursing’s International Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nursing Network Conference in London. Dr. Smolowitz and Courtney Reinisch, DNP also presented "Doctoral Preparation of Advanced Practice Nurses to Meet Global Health Care Needs."

Selected Grants

Assistant professor of nursing Rebecca Schnall, PhD received funding for two projects exploring HIV testing, prevention, and treatment. “Using Queuing Theory to Improve HIV Testing in the Emergency Department,” funded by a Columbia University TRANSFORM K12 Mentored Career Development Award, aims to understand the implementation of New York State HIV-testing laws in emergency departments (EDs) and compare the cost-effectiveness of various HIV-testing delivery models.

Dr. Schnall is also principal investigator of a $250,000, CDC-funded U01 Cooperative Agreement titled “Informing the Development of Mobile Apps for HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care.” The purpose of this study is to explore the need for two different HIV-prevention mobile phone applications (apps) in the United States. One app is for meeting the health needs of people living with HIV, including adherence to HIV medications, retention in care, and treatment management; the other encourages HIV testing by identifying testing sites and providing periodic reminders for high-risk individuals. Dr. Schnall presented her findings at the CUSON doctoral research seminar on November 27.

Patricia Stone, PhD, Centennial Professor of Nursing, received a $2.5 million R01 from the National Institute of Nursing Research for "Prevention of Nosocomial Infections and Cost Effectiveness in Nursing Homes." This four-year project, which includes collaborators at the RAND Corporation and the University of Pittsburgh, aims to better understand how nursing homes can better implement and sustain research-based innovations in order to prevent infections and improve the health and safety of residents.

Recent Grads Offer Advice to Students

On December 3, the Adult Nurse Practitioner Program hosted a panel presentation of recent graduates who spoke about employment and offered advice to students scheduled to graduate from the program in 2013. Serving on the panel were Karen Hiensch ’10 ’12, a primary care nurse practitioner at Bronx Lebanon Hospital; Christin Isik ’10 ’12, a nurse practitioner and headache specialist at the New York Headache Center; and Kathy Wu ’10 ’12, a nurse practitioner at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Each panelist gave a unique perspective on challenges and rewards of finding employment and working as a newly minted adult nurse practitioner.

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Adult Nurse Practitioner students with program director Kristine Takamiya, DNP (back row, 3rd from left)

Donors and Students Honored at 17th Annual Scholarship Reception

The School of Nursing celebrated the generosity of over 90 named scholarship donors and the accomplishments of almost 100 student scholars at the 17th annual Scholarship Reception on October 22. The event also served as an opportunity for named scholarship donors to meet their student scholarship recipients.

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Alfredo Axtmayer II

"The incredible care I received when I was diagnosed with cancer inspired me to become an adult nurse practitioner with the goal of being the best nurse possible – which meant enrolling at Columbia. This choice requires an incredible commitment for students like me, both of time and financial resources." Alfredo Axtmayer II, Lincoln Fund Nursing Scholar

To help students like Alfredo study at CUSON, please make your tax deductible contribution today at Every dollar counts towards financial aid.

Welcoming the group were Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD; Alumni Association president Martha Cohn Romney ’81; and Lincoln Fund president Martha McLanahan. Alfredo Axtmayer II, a Combined BS/MS student and Lincoln Fund Nursing Scholar, delivered his personal perspective on why he chose to become a nurse and asked those in the room to consider their own motivations for pursuing nursing. He also encouraged faculty, alumni, and friends to learn more about the students in the room, joking, "not to toot our own horns — but we’re pretty awesome."

In addition to honoring donors and scholars, both Dr. Berkowitz and Mr. Axtmayer acknowledged the importance of faculty. Said the dean, "Although our students come to us well prepared to enter the profession of nursing, it is our faculty and staff who finish it. So, we owe them a great debt for the work that they all do in helping these scholars achieve what they achieve."

Click here to view photos from the event.


Stay tuned for a revamped e-newsletter in January 2013

Columbia University School of Nursing
Mailing Address:
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New York, NY 10032
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