Three College of Nursing Faculty Honored with Kent State Platinum Teaching Recognition Award

From Touch Point Online Magazine, Spring 2024 – Vol. VIII, Issue 1

Kent State University College of Nursing is pleased to announce that three Kent State College of Nursing faculty members, Tracy Dodson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, Janet Reed, Ph.D., RN, CMSRN and Taryn Burhanna, MSN, APRN, NP-C, recently received the Platinum Teaching Recognition Award from Kent State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

Tracy Dodson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, associate professor, and Janet Reed, Ph.D., RN, CMSRN, assistant professor, were honored with the award for their research titled Exploring Undergraduate Nursing Students’ Ineffective Communication Behaviors in Simulation.

“Applying for this recognition award was important to us because it would showcase the work we are doing in the classroom. We hope to inspire others to reflect on their educational approaches and be bold by trying new things,” said Dodson. “Too often nurse educators choose to shy away from any opportunity to be recognized and we need to change that. This isn’t about saying ‘look at me.’ It is about saying ‘Hey, look at what I tried in the classroom. Maybe it will work for you too!’”

This project was based on Dodson’s collected dissertation data. She explained that while transcribing and evaluating nursing students’ comments, behaviors and side conversations during recorded simulation experiences, common themes in their communications were emerging, not all of them good. Dodson and Reed, along with Kimberly Cleveland, Ph.D., JD, RN, C-MBC, C-MPC, Kent State University College of Nursing associate professor, went on to complete a thematic analysis of the students’ communication patterns. The trio published their findings in Teaching and Learning in Nursing and presented during a one-hour podium presentation at the 2023 National Convention for the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) in Las Vegas, NV.

“This work can help other faculty who use simulation as an experiential learning opportunity to discuss these common communication breakdowns in the classroom and debriefing sessions,” said Reed. “Being prepared to discuss these issues with students paves the way for better therapeutic communication moving forward.”

Dodson hopes to inspire her fellow colleagues to apply for teaching recognition awards.

“Much of the work and research our fellow faculty are doing can help others in the classroom or even better, build future collaborations,” said Dodson. “This isn’t a time to be humble. Help us learn and grow together by sharing what you are doing in the classroom to improve education at the university and the college.”

Dodson and Reed are both previous recipients of the Platinum Teaching Recognition Award, having each received the honor in 2021 for their individual projects on simulation.

Taryn Burhanna, MSN, APRN, NP-C, lecturer and first-time award recipient, received this prestigious achievement for her project titled Poverty Simulation Implementation:  A Tool to Experience the Social Determinants of Health.

“The application process for this award provided me with an opportunity for self-reflection and professional development,” said Burhanna, who was seeking a platform to demonstrate her dedication to delivering high-quality education. “This award highlights my continuous efforts to enhance my teaching skills and shows how my teaching extends beyond the classroom. It also aligns with my desire to contribute to the overall success and reputation of the College of Nursing.”

Burhanna initially implemented the Missouri Community Action Network’s poverty simulation into her community health nursing course during the summer of 2022 in collaboration with Stark County Community Action Agency and Mercy Hospital. She explained this two-hour interactive experience is designed to sensitize nursing students to the day-to-day realities of families and individuals living in poverty. The simulation has since been run twice a semester.

“Social determinants of health are touched on in multiple nursing courses but are rarely experienced firsthand. This immersive experience involves stress-inducing situations including financial instability, housing insecurity and limited resources,” said Burhanna. “Understanding these barriers helps our nursing students appreciate the impact of social determinants on health-seeking behavior and preventive care. This understanding can also lead to increased advocacy for policy changes aimed at addressing root causes of health inequity.”

Following the simulation, nursing students were asked to reflect upon the experience. With the assistance of Kent State University College of Nursing Associate Dean of Academics and Associate Professor Tracey Motter, DNP, MSN, RN, and Jennifer Metheney, MSN, RN, CNE, senior lecturer, the reflective data was de-identified and analyzed. They found that nursing students who participated in the simulation experienced an increase in empathy toward individuals living in poverty. The nursing students also had a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health. Their findings were published in The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, A Scholarly Journal of the American Nurses Association.   

Burhanna acknowledges one primary objection to the inclusion of the poverty simulation in the curriculum is the potential trauma for nursing students who may have personally experienced poverty during their lifetime.

“Through our analysis of reflections, we have found that the simulation proves highly beneficial even for nursing students who have firsthand experience with poverty,” said Burhanna. “When approached with sensitivity and a commitment to genuine role-playing, the advantages of continuing the simulation outweigh the potential risks of causing trauma or triggering students.”

The teaching development awards program recognizes actions that enhance teaching and learning at Kent State University. This program allows instructors to earn tiered awards (bronze, silver, gold & platinum) for their efforts to learn about, implement, evaluate and investigate evidence-based instructional practices. All instructors at Kent State, including graduate students and faculty of all appointment types (TT, NTT, adjunct) are eligible to participate.

The Platinum Award recognizes scholarly dissemination and leadership in teaching and learning.

Learn more about the Teaching Recognition Awards.

Image Captions:

Professional headshots of Dr. Tracy Dodson (left), Dr. Janet Reed (center) and Taryn Burhanna (right).

POSTED: Tuesday, March 5, 2024 04:09 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2024 11:33 AM
Mariah Gibbons