By Erica Techo
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing is known for its commitment to educate talented, highly-qualified registered nurses and nurse leaders, as well as the next generation of groundbreaking nurse scientists. The School’s graduate and doctoral programs are ranked top in the nation by U.S. News & World report, and its senior-ranked, internationally known faculty provide a high-quality, affordable education to students, and are leading the charge in developing innovative new practice models and discovering new knowledge that will improve the lives of patient and families globally. Four talented nurse leaders who have served the School in various roles of increasing responsibility over their time of service moved into the role of Associate Dean this past year.
“We are very fortunate to have so many talented individuals who are willing to take on the added responsibilities for leading all of our programs and missions in continued success,” said Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Moneyham, PhD, RN, FAAN.
Maria Shirey, Associate Dean of Clinical and Global Partnerships
Maria Shirey, PhD, MBA, MS, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FACHE, FNAP, FAAN, was named the School’s Associate Dean of Clinical and Global Partnerships in December 2018.
Shirey joined the School’s faculty in 2013 as Assistant Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships, where she helped lead the development and expansion of the HRTSA Heart Failure Clinic. Shirey became chair of the Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care in 2015.
She is a key leader in the UAB Nursing Partnership and will continue this partnership, as well as all clinical practice and global partnership efforts across the school, in her new role.
In 2018, Shirey received a $2.8 million grant for the HRSA initiative entitled “Building a Resilient Registered Nursing Workforce for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control in Alabama,” which will fund work to improve health outcomes in medically underserved areas of the state and educate nursing students and RNs in team-focused primary care.
Also in 2018, Shirey was elected a Distinguished Scholar and Fellow in the National Academies of Practice. She serves as director-at-large on the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) Board of Directors and editor in chief of the Journal for Healthcare Quality, and she is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the National Academy of Practice, the Academy of Nursing Education and the American College of Health Care Executives.
“My goal is to grow and enhance our existing programs and also to cultivate the sustainability of our partnerships. Without thinking of sustainability, we can’t move our programs to the next level,” Shirey said. “I believe strongly in continuous quality improvement, so I’m always asking the question, ‘How can we do better and what’s next?’ By asking those questions and tapping into the talents of everyone I work with, we can reach that next level.”
Ashley Hodges, Associate Dean for Graduate Clinical Education
Ashley Hodges, PhD, CRNP, WHNP-BC, was named Associate Dean for Graduate Clinical Education in 2018, after seven years as Assistant Dean for Graduate Clinical Programs.
Hodges is nationally known for her work with the National Association of Nurse Practitioner Faculties Curricular Leadership Committee Co-Chair and on the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Board of Director and Public Policy Committee.
“As Associate Dean, my goals include mentoring junior faculty, continuing school improvement and fostering faculty practices,” Hodges said. “Through mentorship, we can continue to improve the quality of our teaching and also improve partnerships that in turn influence our curriculum, keeping it timely and up to date.”
As a certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Hodges also holds a faculty practice at The WellHouse, a nonprofit that provides a residential environment to women who are survivors of human sex trafficking.
Hodges opened the clinic in 2017 and is there once a week to provide consistent, high quality care to the residents.
Hodges has received the Lamplighter Award from the Alabama League for Nursing, the Excellence in Nursing Award and the UAB Marie L. O’Koren Alumni Award for Innovation. Hodges received her MSN and PhD from UAB School of Nursing.
Gwendolyn Childs, Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate/ Prelicensure Education
Gwendolyn Childs, PhD, RN, FAAN, joined UAB School of Nursing in 2007 after receiving her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science from University of South Carolina-Columbia and was named Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Pre-Licensure Education in 2018.
She is an associate scientist with the UAB School of Medicine Center for AIDS Research, UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center and UAB Center for the Study of Community Health. She formerly directed the Clinical Scholar’s Program at Children’s of Alabama, where she mentored nurses in the development of projects to directly impact the quality of care provided to their patients and families.
“I went into teaching to educate students to become compassionate nurses that provide the best possible care to their patients,” Childs said. “As Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Pre-Licensure Education, I intend to encourage and support faculty in the areas of scholarship and teaching as they continue developing new and innovative teachings strategies. I also hope to inspire our students at the start of their career and set an example for how they can make a difference in patient care and health care as a whole.”
In 2018, Childs was named an American Academy of Nursing (AAN) fellow. She has also received multiple research grants and the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care President’s Award.
David Vance, Interim Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship
David Vance, PhD, MGS, was selected to serve as Interim Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship in August 2018. He joined the School in 2006 as an assistant professor and the first non-nurse faculty member. Since 2006, he has had continuous NIH funding as a principal investigator and co-investigator.
Vance is a psychologist who actively researches neurocognitive aging and HIV, and he brings to the Office of Research and Scholarship more than 20 years of research experience and scholarship that includes more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and more than 400 presentations.
“As Interim Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, I hope to elevate the School’s NIH funding from its current rank of No. 14 in the country to the top 10 funded Schools of Nursing and to develop a P-20 or P-30 grant, which will create a research center that funds mutual research goals in the School,” Vance said.
Under Dr. Karen Meneses’ leadership, Vance served as the Assistant Director of the Office of Research and Scholarships from 2011 to 2018. He also served as Director of the School’s PhD program from 2012 to 2014.
Vance chairs the Neurocognitive Group of the Women’s Initiative HIV Study and was invited to a White House form and an NIH Think Tank, both of which were focused on aging with HIV. He is also serving a one-year term as Director-at-Large for the Association of Nurses in AIDS care. He is the first non-nurse on the board.