Faculty, students and alumni receive NBNA honors

By Laura Gasque

Several University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing faculty members, students and alumni received honors and scholarships at the 2023 National Black Nurses Association, Inc. Annual Conference. Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Felesia Bowen, PhD, DNP, APRN, PPCNP-BC, FAAN, is the Nurse Researcher of the Year and Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Graduate Clinical Education-MSN Tedra Smith, DNP, CRNP, CPNP-PC, CNE, CHSE (MSN 2004, DNP 2011), is the Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year.

In addition, Associate Professor Martha Dawson, DNP, RN, FACHE (BSN 1976, MSN 1984), completed her second term as the president of NBNA. Dawson is the 13th president and is a member of the Birmingham Black Nurses Association chapter of NBNA. She was sworn in for her first term in 2019 and her second term in 2021.

Alumna Ashley Weaver, MSN, RN, MEDSURG-GC, CNL (MSN 2011), was named one of the 2023 Under 40 Awardees. BSN to DNP student Madison Smith, BSN, RN, received a $5,000 United Health Foundation Scholarship and BSN to DNP student Melanie Wren, BSN, RN, received a $1,000 Dr. Lauranne Sams Scholarship. Skills Lab Educator Samantha Baldwin, MSN, RN, was awarded a $5,000 United Health Foundation Scholarship.


Photo of Felesia Bowen

The NBNA Nurse Researcher of the Year Award recognizes a nurse researcher who has completed an outstanding research study and who has potential to develop and implement a program of research that contributes to the well-being and health care of minority communities.

“It is truly humbling to know that others are noticing my work and the impact that it is having on patients, families, and communities,” Bowen said. “I am also blessed to be in a supportive environment that allows me to engage in community-based scholarship. My work is valued and supported, and for that I am very grateful.”

Bowen has received a five-year, $250,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to lead an initiative to reduce childhood obesity and its associated poor health outcomes in the Birmingham area. She will be working with the Titusville community, an inner-city Birmingham neighborhood with a predominately minority population, to improve access to healthy nutrition and physical activity resources for children. Goals include establishing a community-based nutrition and physical activity program and forming a team of community and state partners to develop a program sustainability plan that includes a funding strategy to promote preventive child health services for families living there.

Bowen also has been selected to serve as Ambassador of the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research. The FNINR provides resources to support nursing research and advance the mission of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

“The core tenants of the School’s mission are to shape patient-centered, equitable health care locally, in the state of Alabama and beyond. The HRSA project is a perfect example of how we support these tenants,” Bowen said. “The project is humbling because the School is a guest in the community and we want to listen to and deliver preventive health education and care in the way that is best for community members. It doesn’t get more patient-centered than this.”

Bowen earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science from Columbia University in 2010. She joined the UAB School of Nursing in August 2021 as the inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She also is a Professor in the Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care and has distinguished herself as a leader in the areas of pediatric asthma, health disparities and health equity. Bowen is a nationally certified pediatric nurse practitioner and has a strong academic nursing background with expertise in teaching, service and research.


Photo of Tedra Smith

The NBNA Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year Award recognizes excellence in the clinical area at the advanced practice level.

“I do this work because it’s my calling and passion and it’s an honor to be recognized,” Smith said. “I serve in this role to promote a bright, healthy future for children and their families. I’m grateful for the support I receive that enables me to continue serving others as an advanced practice nurse.”

Smith has more than 20 years of experience as a pediatric nurse with a specialization in primary, emergency and preanesthesia care. She serves on the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Nominations Committee and as chair of the School-based Health Care Special Interest Group. She also is on the editorial board for the Journal of Pediatric Nursing.

Smith leads the UAB School of Nursing’s partnership with i3 Academy, a tuition-free, public charter school in the Woodlawn community in Birmingham with more than 400 students in kindergarten through seventh grade. The partnership’s goal is to improve overall health in the community through regular hearing and vision screenings and physical assessments for students, along with health education events for families.

“As an educator and advanced practice nurse I have an opportunity to interact with a diverse population from various cultures and ethnic groups,” Smith said. “Through my current HRSA grant, I’m able to collaborate to provide services to the community in partnership with i3 Academy, while also providing experiential learning opportunities for our students. It fully supports equitable health care and the School’s mission of developing leaders that can excel in practice, scholarship and education.”

In 2021, the NBNA named Smith the Nurse Educator of the Year for outstanding contributions to professional and/or patient education.

Smith earned her Master of Science in Nursing from the UAB School of Nursing in 2004 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2011.

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