Alumni leading at all levels

Learn more about graduates of the UAB School of Nursing's Health Systems Leadership Specialties.
UAB School of Nursing alumni are leaders in health care in the state and across the country, prepared to influence health care at all levels and lead the profession in today's rapidly changing environment.

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Terri Poe, DNP, RN, NE-BC (BSN 1986, DNP 2013)

Alumna Terri Poe, DNP, RN, NE-BC, is a two-time graduate of UAB School of Nursing, earning her BSN in 1986 and DNP in 2013. She joined UAB Hospital as Director of Emergency Services in 2009 before being named Chief Nursing Officer in 2014. She is also Assistant Dean for Practice at UAB Hospitalresponsible for ongoing integration and advancement of the mission of the UAB Nursing Partnership throughout the clinical and academic setting.

“When I graduated from the UAB School of Nursing with my BSN, I was ready to be the best nurse possible and to provide world-class care for patients, but I also wanted to guide others to be strong nurses. I knew I wanted to part of nursing leadership for UAB Hospital,” Poe said. “Completing the DNP program provided additional tools to make that next step as an executive nurse leader, including working on interprofessional teams and handling executive demands.”

As CNO, Poe has embraced new technology, improving safety and increasing the quality of patient care. She has also strengthened operational and academic nursing partnerships, including the UAB Nursing Partnership, a union between UAB Medicine, UAB Hospital and UAB School of Nursing that brings together the best of clinical care and academics, providing world-class care for patients. The partnership received the 2018 New Era for Academic Nursing Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

The nursing workforce is evolving, and nurses have decision-making roles in health systems. By adding health systems leadership specialties to its curriculum, UAB School of Nursing is setting graduates up for future success and opportunities to advance in their careers.

“Graduating with knowledge of health systems, legislation, finance and other skills is immensely important for nurses who hope to advance as leaders,” Poe said. “By providing this foundation, UAB is setting nurses up for success at all levels of care and creating leaders who can adapt as leadership needs become more complex.”

Poe was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Nursing Administrator Acadame or Service Award from the Alabama State Nurses Association. She is the past President of Birmingham Regional Organization of Nurse Leaders (BRONL) and Alabama Chapter of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AlaONE).

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Velinda Block, DNP, RN, NEA-BC (DNP 2010)

Alumna Velinda Block, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, is the first Chief Nurse Executive for HCA TriStar Division, where she oversees nursing practice for almost 6,000 nurses in 22 hospitals and related care facilities throughout the Southeast.

Block previously served as Chief Nursing Officer for KentuckyOne Health and as CNO for UAB Hospital, during which time she worked with UAB School of Nursing Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Doreen Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN to establish a joint Leadership in Nursing Council between the School of Nursing and UAB Hospital. That foundation grew into the UAB Nursing Partnership, a strategic alignment of UAB School of Nursing, UAB Medicine and UAB Hospital that has led to multiple nurse-led interprofessional clinics and new opportunities for students.

UAB School of Nursing and her experience as CNO as UAB Hospital opened doors to many opportunities, Block said, including becoming the first Chief Nurse Executive for HCA Tristar Division.

“My doctorate from UAB School of Nursing, the faculty at the School and my advisor, Dr. Pat Patrician, were invaluable in my preparation to work in a large health system. They provided a foundation for executive nursing leadership, as well as the skills to evolve as a leader as the workforce evolves,” Block said.

Throughout her career, Block has been active in clinical care, research and administration. Block is also a member of Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society and the American Organization of Nurse Executives.

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Porsha Pettaway, MSN, RN (MSN 2017)

Alumna Porsha Pettaway, MSN, RN, is the facility telehealth coordinator and nurse manager at the Memphis VA Medical Center, where she is responsible for the planning, operation and execution of telehealth programs for faculty, including nine clinics. She also supervises a team of 16 RNs, LPNs and health technicians.

Informatics and telehealth are both important parts of health care, and in her role at the Memphis VA, Pettaway has seen how a telehealth produces positive patient outcomes.

“A large portion of my job is managing a home telehealth program, where nurses provide care coordination for chronic diseases through remote monitoring equipment located in the patient’s home. This program has had positive patient outcomes such as reduced hospital admissions for chronic conditions such as CHF, COPD and diabetes,” she said.

The UAB School of Nursing, Pettaway said, more than prepared her for this role.

“During my coursework in the informatics specialty, I learned and applied various theories and skills related to managing health care related information and the development of health care information systems,” she said. “I was exposed to systems development life cycles, information management and organizational and behavioral theories that I use daily.”

The size of the specialty — about 25 students in each cohort — allowed Pettaway to interact regularly with Specialty Track Coordinator Marisa Wilson, DNSc, MHSc, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FAAN, faculty and alumni. Conferences, networking opportunities and practicum experiences also enabled students to get real-world experience.

headshot6 webBlake Smith, MSN, RN (MSN 2017)

Alumnus Blake Smith, MSN, RN, is a Clinical Documentation Senior Analyst for Nebraska Medicine as well as President of the American Association for Men in Nursing. Smith earned his Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Health Systems Administration from UAB in 2017, following a passion that drew him to project management and creating an environment for others to thrive.

The leadership focus of this degree provided Smith for fundamental competencies in advanced nursing practice and challenged him to think about high-level factors that impact the health system and health industry as a whole.

“This education enables a nursing leader to anticipate trends at a macro level. For nurses to influence change to an industry, we must advocate for our profession and our communities by leading health care, not just the nursing profession alone,” Smith said.

UAB School of Nursing also prepared Smith to lead as President of the American Association for Men in Nursing and opened doors to other opportunities.

“The skills I gained from UABSON gave me the confidence and experience to take on a national leadership role in my young career,” Smith said. “My time at UAB was a major contributing factor to the opportunities that I have been presented in my seven years in the profession. Stewardship is the foundation that sets apart good leaders from great leaders. You will find the program at UAB is led by some of the best stewards in the profession. It is an honor to be a part of the UAB alumni family and the knowledge that we have gained is truly changing the world.” 

Last modified on August 17, 2019

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