Mississippi Educational Consortium for the Doctorate of Nursing Practice

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2019 Institute-Symposium speaker bios

Keynote speaker:

  • Cynthia Ackrill, MD, PCC, is a leader in the field of leveraging stress for optimal productivity, health and happiness. She addresses the critical relationship between lifestyle choices, performance capacities and leadership effectiveness.

    A graduate of Duke University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, she practiced primary care for a decade then spent another decade in the field of applied neuropsychology, studying brain function, mapping and biofeedback, and ways to support human thriving. She has developed curriculum for coaching and leadership programs and is a faculty expert for the American Institute of Stress. Certified in wellness and executive coaching and stress education, she now coaches individuals, leaders and teams and presents workshops using science based strategies to improve resilience, performance, health and happiness.

National speakers:

  • Kathleen Ballman, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, CEN, is an associate professor of clinical nursing at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing. She received her graduate and post-graduate training at the University of Cincinnati. As the coordinator and faculty for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs, Ballman is engaged in using technology to enhance teaching and learning in both the classroom and the lab setting for more than 11 years. In addition to her numerous awards; and resulting from her commitment to incorporating Apple technology into the classroom, she was selected in 2017 to be an Apple Distinguished Educator. Along with her academic position, she practices as an acute care nurse practitioner in the Cardiovascular Institute at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where she expresses her clinical passion for cardiovascular disease prevention.

  • Heather Findletar Hines, DNP, CNM, FACNM, is an assistant clinical professor in both the nursing and the obstetrics and gynecology departments at SUNY Stony Brook. She earned her master’s degree in Midwifery in 2001 and went on to obtain her DNP in 2009 from Stony Brook’s School of Nursing. In 2016, with the impending launch of the School of Nursing iPad innovative, she became certified as an Apple Teacher. In 2017, she was selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator and became the Midwifery program director in the SUNY Stony Brook School of Nursing. Her passion is helping students in the clinical setting with the development of their peripheral brain. She continues to interweave technology into basic and lifesaving midwifery skills.

  • Melissa Stec, DNP, APRN, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, is a professor and associate dean for evaluation and educational innovation at SUNY Downstate. She completed her MSN in midwifery in 2005 from Vanderbilt and returned there for a DNP that she earned in 2010. She is a 2015 Apple Distinguished Educator and holds an Apple teacher certification. Her mixed methods research entitled “Exploring adaptation to a curriculum delivered via iPad” has completed two phases of research on student and faculty tablet use. She has recently launched a third phase connecting faculty confidence with technology use. Stec is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and is nationally known for her work on technology infusion in nursing education and the translation of pedagogy using technology centric methods.

Other speakers:

  • Robin Christian, DNP, RN, FNP-C, has over 20 years' experience as a RN, and 18 years as a FNP. She is an associate professor of nursing at the University of Mississippi School of Nursing. Christian received her BA and MS degrees from Millsaps College; a BSN and MSN degree from the University of Memphis; and a DNP degree from Texas Christian University. She is an accredited, trainer-certified reviewer for the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Comprehensive Systematic Review Training Program and the Evidenced Based Practice Clinical Fellowship Program of Adelaide, Australia.

    Christian is the director of the Mississippi Centre for Evidenced Based Practice: A Joanna Briggs Institute Center of Excellence. The Centre is responsible for teaching the JBI methodologies of systematic reviews to faculty, students and community partners. It is also responsible for scholarly output, focusing on evidence synthesis, to support the global mission of JBI.

    Her passion and goal of professional activities is the elimination of health disparities through nursing innovation. She is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Nurses' Association, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Mississippi Nurses' Association. A member of the Beta Alpha chapter of the Sigma honorary, Christian is a peer reviewer for the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Gastroenterology Nursing and the Joanna Briggs Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports.

  • Caroline Compretta, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center with faculty appointments in the departments of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics in addition to the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities. As an anthropologist working in Mississippi’s only academic medical center, she has developed and implemented medical humanities curricula and experiential learning exercises designed to teach students about social determinants of health, health disparities and diverse contexts of care. In addition, Dr. Compretta’s research interests include health equity, food insecurity, pediatric obesity and community-based programs. Her current work examines how pejorative labels for parents of pediatric patients by health-care practitioners affect health outcomes.

  • Tearsanee Davis, DNP, APRN FNP-BC, is the director of clinical and advanced practice operations for the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. She is responsible for all telehealth clinical operations at the Medical Center. These telehealth services include eICU, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) for chronic disease management, TeleMental health, Corporate Telehealth, Specialty Telehealth and Store and Forward services.

    With over 20 years of nursing experience, she has worked in various healthcare settings which include private practice, community health, emergency medicine and academia. UMMC has been a pioneer in Telehealth for 15 years and the program has grown exponentially in the five years that Dr. Davis has been a member of the team. The UMMC Center for Telehealth now has over 215 sites of service and delivers over 30 medical specialties.

    In addition to representing the Center for Telehealth at various professional organizational meetings and committees and serving as principal investigator for numerous telehealth research projects, she is a member of numerous professional organizations and participates in committees that promote the profession of nursing and bring attention to improving access to care for all. Davis received her DNP from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, MSN with a focus in family nurse practitioner form Alcorn State University and her BSN from the University of Southern Mississippi.

  • Teresa Jones, BSN, RN, CNOR, is an instructor for the School of Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). With over 15 years of nursing experience, she has worked in the nursing profession as a staff nurse in perioperative services and as the otolaryngology coordinator at UMMC before coming to the SON. She received her ADN degree from Hinds Community College, BSN degree from Mississippi University for Woman and is pursuing her MSN degree with an emphasis in nursing and health care administration from the University of Mississippi.

    In her nurse educator and coordinator position with her HRSA advanced-practice nursing grant-funded position, she has expanded the collaboration of the Mississippi Educational Consortium for the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (MECDNP) while broadening its purpose of increasing nursing leadership throughout Mississippi and showcasing the evolving role of the DNP. She has been an integral part of establishing a DNP mentor network that includes DNPs and current DNP students from around the state. Jones also assisted in the development of the MECDNP website to serve as a leading source of information for current members and as a recruitment tool. She served as the coordinator to the annual Mississippi Health Care Symposium and DNP Leadership Institute working with acquiring national and regional speakers to present topics on health literacy; cultural competency; patient safety; faculty development and leadership; and various other topics.

    With the HRSA grant, Jones has developed her role to include assisting the implementation of integrating behavioral/mental health into the primary care setting at the SON-managed UNACARE Family Health Clinic and the school-based clinics in Jackson and the Mississippi Delta; collaborating with staff to implement a new Telehealth system at the School of Nursing and its clinics; and creating surveys in REDCap to compile data for HRSA grant reporting. She further serves as a liaison between clinical groups and sites for the Interprofessional-Behavioral Health Integration (IP-BHI) team.

    She serves as the director of clinical services at the UNACARE Family Health Clinic, SON telehealth coordinator and instructor. As UNACARE director, Jones is responsible for directing clinical services for the clinic, a full-service, nurse-run, urban family practice clinic. Faculty and students provide care to the diverse Jackson Midtown community with a range of services for clients across the lifespan. She is responsible for implementing telehealth services, creating educational material, teaching and working closely with all of the School of Nursing’s nurse-run clinics to provide telehealth services to our underserved communities. She is collaborating with the UMMC Telehealth Center of Excellence to develop a telehealth curriculum for all levels of nursing at the School of Nursing.

    She is a member of Mississippi Nurses Association, American Nurses Association and the Association of perioperative Registered Nurses. She is a certified nurse of operating room, Master Trainer Teamstepps and EPIC Super user. Jones also served as past president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association. She has experience as a plastic surgery coordinator and an instructor/chairperson in surgical/technology.

  • Michelle Palokas, DNP, RN-CPN, is an assistant professor and director of the DNP Program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing. She is also the deputy director of the Mississippi Centre of Evidence-Based Practice: A Joanna Briggs Institute Centre of Excellence.

    She obtained her BSN from Mississippi University for Women in 2002 and both her MSN and DNP degrees from the School of Nursing at UMMC in 2007 and 2014, respectively.

    She has several years of leadership experience in the hospital setting, as she served in Batson Children's Hospital as the nurse manager of the general pediatric unit from 2007 to 2012 and then director of inpatient services from 2012 to 2016. She was named the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Nursing Leader of the Year in 2009. Palokas is also certified in pediatrics through the Pediatric Certification Board and a member of Mississippi Nurses' Association, Sigma Theta Tau, and Phi Kappa Phi.

    Her interests include pediatrics, patient/family-centered care and she is passionate about improving Interprofessional collaboration and evidence-based practice in health care.

  • Shelby Polk, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, is an associate professor and chair of the nursing department at Delta State University Robert E. Smith School of Nursing. She has held various positions throughout her nursing career in hospital, clinic and academic settings.

    Shelby holds a DNP degree from the University of Alabama Birmingham and national certification as a FNP-BC. During the past few years she has completed wellness coach, lifestyle coach, People Map and Bridges Out of Poverty training.

    In August 2013, the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing at Delta State University was awarded a three-year HRSA [Delta State Rural Development Network Grant Program (DELTA)] grant targeting obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Polk served as the project director for the Delta Healthy Families Project, which extended over a five-year period.

    She enjoys her work as both an educator and a practitioner and is a strong advocate for health promotion/disease prevention strategies to improve health outcomes in the rural Mississippi communities where people live, work, learn and play.