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AACN honors D.N.P. director; Former ob-gyn prof leads school

Palokas garners national AACN novice faculty honor

Portrait of Michelle Palokas

Dr. Michelle Palokas, associate professor of nursing and director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, has received the 2020 Novice Faculty Excellence in Didactic Teaching Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Palokas was awarded the honor during a recent virtual presentation by the national organization.

The award is presented to a faculty member who has been in his or her role for five years or less, demonstrates innovation in teaching/learning approaches, shows empathy and respect for students and creates a culture that encourages expressions of ideas, acts as an exemplary role model exhibiting professional values and standards, and demonstrates evidence-based teaching/learning and integration, theory and practice.

Dr. LaDonna Northington, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Nursing, said Palokas is an exemplary teacher.

“She has demonstrated an exceptional ability and interest in stimulating students toward learning and has a genuine desire to see D.N.P. students succeed,” Northington said. “Dr. Palokas’ students highly rate her teaching ability. She is approachable and available. She exhibits intellectual competence and integrity in her interactions with students, earning their respect as a mentor and an expert in her field.”

Palokas, a registered nurse, earned her D.N.P. and M.S.N. with a focus on Nursing Management at UMMC after gaining her B.S.N. from the Mississippi University for Women. Her graduate studies were accomplished while she served first as a staff nurse, then as an R.N. educator, nurse manager and director of inpatient services for Children’s of Mississippi. She began teaching in the School of Nursing in 2016 as an assistant professor.

She was inducted into the Norman C. Nelson Order of Teaching Excellence in 2017 after her first year of teaching.

Palokas has helped train more than 160 students, faculty and external partners in systematic review methodology. Her leadership has led to the publication of more than 40 manuscripts, and her collaboration with students has resulted in 18 co-authored publications.

“Her contributions helped advance the SON from a Joanna Briggs Institute-affiliated group to a JBI Centre of Excellence in just two short years,” said Dr. Robin Christian, professor of nursing. “She is now deputy director of the Mississippi Centre of Evidence-Based Practice: A JBI Centre of Excellence, one of only five in the United States.”

JBI develops and delivers unique evidence-based information, software, education and training designed to improve health care practice and health outcomes.

In contributing to the nomination, Brecken Anderson, a D.N.P. student, said Palokas “has greatly influenced me to want to do my best and be my best in whatever I undertake.”

Belmont names former ob-gyn faculty new med college dean

Portrait of Dr. William G. Bates

Dr. William G. Bates, formerly a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UMMC who started the third in-vitro fertilization program in the U.S. while at the Medical Center, has been named founding dean of the new College of Medicine at Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of reproductive endocrinology at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee, Bates is the founder and former president and CEO of digiChart, an electronic medical records company. He previously served as dean of the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Last October, Belmont announced its plans to establish a medical school in partnership with HCA Healthcare, one of the largest hospital chains in the country and a longtime partner of the university.

“I am humbled and excited to be selected as founding dean,” Bates said. “With the academic reputation of Belmont University and the national reach and clinical breadth of HCE Healthcare, the new Belmont University College of Medicine will have immediate recognition.

“Even as a new medical college, it will quickly take its place among other outstanding medical schools and colleges in the United States.”