University of Mary LogoAs the University of Mary continues to meet the local, regional and national demands for highly educated and prepared nurses at all levels it strives to recognize those who go above and beyond in the classroom and service to others as current and future healthcare professionals.

The University of Mary graduate nursing program recently honored three individuals, one student, one healthcare professional and one faculty member, for their commitment to excellence in nursing. The Excellence in Instruction for Healthcare Leader and Nursing Faculty Awards recognizes individuals who elevate graduate nursing students’ educational experiences by inspiring, encouraging, and challenging them to reach their full potential. The Future of Nursing Award recognizes a graduate nursing student who, during their academic program, has demonstrated the growth in professional aptitudes necessary to lead change and ensure high quality, safe patient care.

Graduate nursing education at the University of Mary fosters responsibility, creativity, self-direction, and leadership that characterize a professional commitment and the continued desire to learn and grow.

Faculty members and healthcare leaders, who interact with students during academic experiences, share the responsibility of students’ educational and professional formation. They also play a central role in students’ achievements of attaining core skills and attributes that are essential to becoming a competent advanced nursing professional.

Sara Dvorak, clinical learning coordinator at Altru Health System in Grand Forks, was recognized with the 2015 Healthcare Leader Excellence in Instruction Award. Since June 2014, Dvorak has played an active role in the development of a centralized process to coordinate advanced practitioner clinical placements. This process enhances the clinical placement process for providers and students. Sara’s role has made her an advocate for the students’ professional development by seeking out preceptors that will meet the specific needs of the student.

Dr. Annie Gerhardt, a faculty member in the University of Mary Family Nurse Practitioner Program and a Family Nurse Practitioner at Altru Clinic in Devils Lake, earned the 2015 Nursing Faculty Excellence in Instruction Award. Gerhardt is recognized as an exemplary model of the Benedictine values, especially service and hospitality. Her efforts at modeling integrity, professionalism, competence and compassion are wide-reaching. Dr. Gerhardt is not only known for sharing her knowledge with University of Mary FNP students in the classroom, but for her presentation and speaking at local, regional and national conferences.

Joan Skopal, a Master of Science in Nursing, Nurse Educator student from Durango, CO, is the recipient of the Future of Nursing Award. Skopal’s peers know her as respectful, hospitable, strong, and professional. Colleagues often comment on her degree of persistence, care for others, and readiness in serving others. She is a servant leader that is continually looking to assist those around her to reach success. She is consistently commended for her positive attitude, can-do spirit and adaptability in the ever-changing healthcare environment.