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President's GEM Award: Paul Austin, CRNA, Ph.D.

04.09.2014 | By:

I am happy to present the latest GEM Award to Professor Paul Austin, CRNA, Ph.D., from the Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Program (DNAP). Through Dr. Austin’s leadership, his students are pushed to think critically about real problems in their field and define solutions for themselves and their peers.

An example of Dr. Austin’s outstanding efforts to lead students towards real-world problem solving is with a paper he co-authored with Ruth Fletcher, a recent graduate of the DNAP program. The paper was selected to receive the prestigious 2014 Mary Hanna Memorial Journalism Award, an award that recognizes significant contribution to nursing knowledge.

Students in the doctorate of nurse anesthesia program are required to complete a scholarly paper describing a clinical problem and uncover an evidence-based intervention to address the problem. Under the skilled guidance of Austin, students are pushed to use critical thinking to discover ways to make a difference in the lives nurses and patients.

The published article entitled “Patients With Aortic Stenosis: Who Should Undergo Noncardiac Surgery in a Rural Hospital?” showed that some patients with aortic stenosis, a condition that decreases blood flow from the heart, can safely undergo noncardiac surgery in smaller hospitals. This is important because most patients prefer to have surgery close to home (often rural areas) where the surgery is less expensive and more convenient.

With this paper, Fletcher, Austin and other co-authors Lisa R. Milhoan, CRNA, DNAP, and Kirk Evans, CRNA, DNP, recommend criteria for doctors and nurses to screen such patients – an enormous asset to help them make safe decisions for patients who wish to have surgery close to home.

I hope you will join me in congratulating Dr. Austin for his significant contributions to the field of nursing and our University, and for exemplifying what it means to create a learning atmosphere that promotes critical thinking and analytical reasoning.