December 4, 2020
While many Clevelanders were hunkering down for winter’s first big storm of the season on December 1, Ursuline College nursing faculty member Dr. Caitlin Yeager was busy racking up two major career milestones. In one day, she successfully defended her PhD dissertation and was honored by the Ohio March of Dimes with its Nurse of the Year Award for Excellence as an Academic Educator of 0-5 years.
“Having both accolades on the same day is overwhelming, but I am full of gratitude. I was also very thankful that my power never went out,” Yeager said.
Of the March of Dimes recognition she said, “It was definitely an honor just to be nominated, but I felt extremely grateful for winning. I feel like a lot of my success is due to the opportunities to educate nurses in the Caribbean that were provided to me by the non-profit I work with, Giving Health To Kids. The opportunity to work with and provide education to nurses there and here in the U.S. is one of the joys of my career.”
Patricia A. Sharpnack, DNP, dean of Ursuline’s Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions, said, “We are honored to have Dr. Yeager be a part of our faculty and Ursuline team. Her creativity and her commitments to quality, competency, and student-centered learning are tremendous assets for our students. Her research sheds new light on the roles nurses can play in public health.”
Yeager, who serves as Ursuline’s Nursing Resource and Simulation Center Coordinator, has been working on her PhD thesis through Villanova University for more than five years. But her topic couldn’t be more timely – “The Role of Nurses in Surveillance of New and Emerging Infectious Disease to Enhance Global Health Security.”
“When I first started my research, I was fascinated with the Ebola Outbreak of 2014 and the lessons learned. This led me to discovering the Global Health Security Agenda, which was developed in 2014. However, I noticed that there were no plans to incorporate nurses into workforce development surrounding global health security, and there was very little literature about the topic, especially as it related to nursing. I wanted to look at how nurses provide surveillance of infectious disease, especially ones that are new or haven't been seen in a long time.”
When she started the PHD program, she did not imagine that she would complete her research project in the middle of a pandemic.
“It is really important to me that nurses are represented in governments and organizations that are developing policies surrounding global health. We are the largest healthcare workforce in the world and the most trusted profession in the U.S., so nurses have so much wisdom to bring to the interdisciplinary team,” she said.”
Through her research, Yeager was able to find areas in which nursing practice and education can be strengthened related to surveillance and public health. She intends to use the findings from this study to advocate for the nursing profession.
In addition to teaching at Ursuline, Yearger works part time as a clinical RN at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She also serves as a representative on the unit's professional development council and as a Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) instructor.
Three other Ursuline graduates recognized in the 2020 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Program were Joshua Beacorn, a medical intensive care unit nurse for Cleveland Clinic, who received the Outstanding Graduate RN Award; K. Kelly Hancock, Chief Caregiver Officer for Cleveland Clinic health system, who was a finalist for the Leadership Award; and Jill Byrne, a surgical nurse at Cleveland Clinic who holds a patent for a cooling vest for she designed for surgeons.