Dr. D'Ann Somerall named 2016 President's Award for Excellence in Teaching recipient

Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track coordinator lauded as invaluable asset to teaching profession
By Jimmy Creed

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Assistant Professor D’Ann Somerall, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, is one of 11 UAB faculty honored with a 2016 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at the inaugural UAB Faculty Convocation.

“According to her students, fellow faculty members and colleagues, Dr. Somerall is an innovator,” UAB President Ray Watts, MD, Watts said at the ceremony, which marks September as Faculty Celebration Month. “She integrates award-winning knowledge and competencies into the teaching and mentoring of the next generation of leaders in nursing.”

Somerall is coordinator of the School’s Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Specialty Track – the School’s largest with 160 to 180 in each cohort – in the Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Program and is a leader in distance education classroom innovation. 

She said she is humbled to be selected for the award by her students and fellow faculty.

“Someone asked me if I could win any award what would it be? I said, ‘I have already won it,’ and it was this one because you’re nominated by your students and your peers and selected by fellow faculty members,” Somerall said. “To me that is the highest honor I could receive.”

Somerall began her nursing career in 1995, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the School, after teaching high school for 11 years. She completed her MSN in 1999, training to be a women’s health nurse practitioner, completed post-MSN training at the School as a family nurse practitioner in 2000, and earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the School in 2011. She was the 2014 recipient of the American Association of Nurse Practitioner’s annual Alabama State Award for Excellence and also was named one of the top 15 family nurse practitioner faculty in the country in 2014 by nursepractitionerschools.com. Somerall Harper Prez AwardUAB School of Nursing Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Doreen C. Harper, right, congratulates Assistant Professor Dr. D'Ann Somerall on here 2016 President's Award for Excellence in Teaching at the recent UAB Faculty Convocation.

Somerall was the perfect choice for this award said Instructor Katie Buys, DNP, MPH, NP-C, the assistant FNP Specialty Track coordinator. Buys earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from the School in 2011 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP) in 2015.

“After reading the award description, I could not think of anyone under whom I have studied or with whom I have taught who better embodies the spirit of this award than Dr. Somerall,” Buys said. “It is a pleasure to teach alongside someone from whom I can learn so much about teaching complex concepts, actively engaging students and caring for them in a way that embodies the spirit of nursing.

“Dr. Somerall makes me proud of my profession, and it is a delight to see her teach and mentor another generation of family nurse practitioners.”

Somerall is noted for being open, attentive and easily accessible to her students. She frequently shares her cell number with students and encourages them to call or text if they have questions. She has also established a Facebook page as a resource for current FNP Specialty Track students and for maintaining contact with alumni of the program.

“Every time I am around our current students or alumni, they rave about how effective Dr. Somerall is, and I always heartily agree,” Buys said.

Two students who wrote letters in support of Somerall’s nomination echoed Buys.

Capri Rutland, MSN, CRNP, earned her degree from the School in 2015 after graduating with a 4.0 GPA and now practices in an emergency department in Mobile, Alabama. She believes she owes much of her success to Somerall.

“Dr. Somerall consistently demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of what are sometimes extremely difficult concepts and seamlessly communicates this knowledge to her students,” Rutland said. “My accomplishments, not only as a student but also as a professional, are greatly due to her encouragement, her knowledge, her patience, her professionalism and her world-class teaching skills.”

Joshua Thomas Wing, MSN, CRNP, another 2015 graduate, was equally glowing in his support.

“Her accomplishments and dedication at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have established her academic leadership and commitment to students that merits this award,” Wing said. “While her academic achievements clearly illustrate her viable contributions, it is her unparalleled teaching ability that sets her apart as truly unique and an invaluable asset to the University and the School, and thus the nursing profession.”

Somerall believes such praise comes her way because the students sense how much she cares for them and her fellow faculty understand she is always focused on providing the best instruction possible for those students.

“I think the students do know I care about their learning and that I push the faculty to always have the most-improved content we can to teach them,” Somerall said. “I love being a teacher. I think it is the greatest job in the world, and I work really hard at it, just like all the faculty here at the UAB School of Nursing. It is nice to be recognized for all that hard work.”
Last modified on September 16, 2016

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