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Three nursing faculty receive profession’s highest honor

by Colin Poitras - June 23, 2008

Three University of Connecticut nursing professors have been elected to the American Academy of Nursing, the highest honor for nurses in the country.

School of Nursing Associate Dean Regina Cusson was recognized for her outstanding accomplishments in the field of neonatal care.

Professors Geraldine Pearson and Deborah Shelton were honored for their exceptional work in the fields of adolescent psychiatric nursing and correctional health care respectively.

The American Academy of Nursing is the most prestigious professional organization for nurses in the United States.

It recognizes top nursing leaders in the fields of education, management, research, and clinical practice. Of the approximately 3 million registered nurses in the country, only about 1,500 have been elected to the Academy.

“It is recognition of extraordinary nursing careers and contributions at the highest level of the profession,” says Anne Bavier, Dean of UConn’s School of Nursing.

“These UConn nurse scientists set the gold standards for patient care in their respective areas.”

The three new fellows will be inducted into the Academy during a special ceremony in Scottsdale, Ariz. this fall.

Regina Cusson
Regina Cusson

Cusson is a professor and associate dean for academic affairs and advanced practice in the School of Nursing.

She is a certified neonatal nurse practitioner and coordinator of the school’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

Her federally-funded research studies have helped define practice standards in neonatal care.

Cusson’s current research explores workforce issues for advanced-practice neonatal nurse practitioners in the U.S. and Britain.

Cusson also coordinates the Faculty Special-Interest Group for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

She has served as a consultant to neonatal nurse practitioner programs throughout the U.S. and currently serves on the editorial boards of two major neonatal journals: Advances in Neonatal Care and Neonatal Network.

Geri Pearson
Geri Pearson

Through mentoring and leadership, Cusson tries to ensure that neonatal nurses translate research into practice.

Pearson is director of the UConn Health Center’s HomeCare Program, a national model program for adolescents who need ongoing psychiatric care after being released from detention or residential care centers.

Pearson helped create the program five years ago, with a $400,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and the Court Support Services Division of the Connecticut Judicial Branch.

Since its inception, the HomeCare program has helped more than 3,000 youngsters ages 10 to 16 through juvenile justice referrals and primary care clinics in five Connecticut communities.

Pearson is also president of the 800-member International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses and a past president and vice-president of the School of Nursing’s Alumni & Friends Society Board of Directors.

Deborah Shelton
Deborah Shelton

Shelton is an associate professor in the School of Nursing and at the UConn Health Center’s Department of Medicine, where she works in the Division of Public Health and Population Sciences.

As the new director for research and evaluation in the Health Center’s Correctional Managed Health Care program, Shelton is working with the program’s executive director, Dr. Robert Trestman, on research designed to improve health care services in correctional institutions in Connecticut and nationwide.

Their research has received more than $11 million in funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Justice.

A long-time advocate for children’s mental health, Shelton has focused much of her research on examining access to care for minority youth and young offenders.

She received a lifetime achievement award from the International Association of Forensic Nursing in 2004 and was named “Nurse of the Year” in Washington, D.C. in 2003.

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