All posts by Kelly Jasper

GRU, GRHealth celebrate nurses

AUGUSTA, Ga. – In recognition of National Nurses Week, Georgia Regents University and Health System have more than a dozen events planned to highlight and thank nurses for their contributions to quality patient care. National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Click to view Nurses Week 2015 events

GRU’s College of Nursing events include an ice cream social, workshop,  departmental luncheons, and two educational webinars. In addition, the CON Honors Convocation is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, May 7, at Christenberry Fieldhouse, and commencement is 2 p.m. Friday, May 8, at James Brown Arena.

GRHealth events include dessert receptions, Doughnut Day, a white-out, GRU Blue Day, and multiple unit-specific events.

Shared events during the week are the annual Blessing of the Hands, Pamper a Nurse Day, and a preceptor reception. On Wednesday, May 6, hospital chaplains will walk from unit to unit to share blessings, anoint the hands, and pray with nurses and other staff members beginning at 7 a.m. and ending with a 2:30 p.m. service in the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Chapel. On Friday, nurses will be treated to hand massages in the Dogwood and Magnolia Rooms of the Georgia Regents Medical Center cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Monday, May 11, nurses will wear traditional white for a Nurse Preceptor Reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the GRU Alumni Center.

This year’s National Nurses Week theme is “Ethical Practice. Quality Care.” It underscores the importance of ethics in nursing and acknowledges the strong commitment, compassion, and care nurses display in their practice and profession. The theme is an important part of the American Nurses Association’s Year of Ethics outreach to promote and advocate for the rights, health, and safety of nurses and patients.

Members of the media should contact Denise Parrish at 706-831-3148 or; or Kelly Jasper at 706-513-0719 or; to arrange the best opportunities for media coverage during Nurses Week.

GRU diversity expert available for National Nurses Week

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Nursing student diversity is on the rise, says Dr. Faye Hargrove, chair of the College of Nursing Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee at Georgia Regents University.

A diverse nursing workforce is key to providing culturally sensitive patient care. It’s why the GRU College of Nursing Dean Lucy Marion and Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Melissa Johnson-Bates recruited a dedicated committee to advise college leadership on how to best attract and retain students, faculty, and staff from under-represented groups in nursing. Hargrove, Chief Development Officer at the Family YMCA of Greater Augusta, brings expert leadership to the team.

Since its inception in February 2014, the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee has reviewed a five-year diversity and inclusion plan, participated in and promoted training, analyzed student and employee demographic data, and made recommendations for recruitment, programming, and processes. This year, one of their most significant contributions has been to propose guidelines for a nursing curriculum that includes cultural competency development for all new nursing students.

“Our diverse community deserves the best caregivers we can provide, ” Hargrove said. “Real information about diversity and inclusion isn’t always intuitive. You have to educate yourself and make the effort, which is what the College of Nursing is doing. We’re looking at everything. It’s not just race and ethnicity. It’s age and gender and religion and lifestyle and so many other things that make the difference in providing quality patient care.”

From May 6-12, GRU and GRHealth will celebrate nurses as part of National Nurses Week. Events include a gala for nurses, and free webinars sponsored by the American Nurses Association and National Black Nurses Association. April is also Diversity Awareness Month at GRU. The month, designated by the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, encourages the exploration of cultures and differing perspectives.

Hargrove, a personal development coach and team trainer for corporations and clients across the United States, is a published author and civic leader active in various organizations. She is a founding member of Women in Philanthropy of the Central Savannah River Area and also serves on the Boards of Directors for the Community Foundation of the CSRA, the First Tee of Augusta, and the United Way of the CSRA.

Hargrove is an alumna of the University of Georgia. She has previously served as CEO of Hargrove Leadership Services, as a faculty member in the School of Business at Georgia College and State University, as the Head of the School of Business Administration and Economics at the University of South Carolina Aiken, and as Vice President for Student Development at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

She periodically teaches non-profit management and strategic planning for non-profit organizations in the Masters in Public Administration program at GRU.

Hargrove is available to discuss diversity and inclusion in business, education, and leadership, and the need to attract students and faculty from under-represented groups in nursing. To schedule an interview prior to or during National Nurses Week, contact Kelly Jasper at 706-513-0719.

Faculty expert: Supreme Court hears oral arguments on same-sex marriage bans


 AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Supreme Court of the United States convened on Tuesday to weigh the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

Dr. Martha Ginn, an Associate Professor of Political Science, teaches Constitutional Law at Georgia Regents University. She is available for interviews after the court hears oral arguments in the four cases challenging state bans on same-sex marriage.

One of the nation’s leading scholars in judicial politics, Ginn’s research interests include judicial selection, Appellate courts decision-making, and public opinion, particularly of the judiciary. Her unique blend of legal expertise and analytical skill, coupled with a passion for the Constitution, make her an engaging professor for students on topics such as Constitutional law, the judicial process, political scandals and affairs, and public administration.

Ginn is available to discuss:

  • Background concerning the four cases in front of the Supreme Court
  • Potential impact for Georgians
  • Next steps following Tuesday’s oral arguments

To schedule interviews with Ginn, contact Kelly Jasper at 706-513-0719.

Dream to Reality: Doctor of Nursing Practice Program celebrates 10 years

When it launched in 2005, the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at GRU’s College of Nursing was one of few in the nation—and hasn’t stopped innovating yet.

By Danielle Wong Moores

Many people dream about becoming nurses. But not Lindsay Moore.

Moore didn’t even take any science classes during her time at Georgia’s Toccoa Falls College, instead double majoring in business administration and counseling with a double minor in outdoor leadership and education and Biblical studies. Her heart was for mission work, but hearts can be funny things. After college graduation, she worked for a relief organization in Gabon, Africa, alongside physicians and advanced practice nurses, and suddenly her heart changed. “We had a lot of good conversations about what they do, and nursing just seemed to fit,” said Moore.

But then there were those science classes—and the fact that Moore was eager to get back to the mission field as a nurse, not in 10 or more years but as soon as possible. All of which brought her back to Georgia and to the Georgia Regents University College of Nursing.

GRU offers an accelerated 16-month Clinical Nurse Leader program designed specifically for professionals interested in nursing, but who, like Moore, earned their degree in another field. While Moore still had to brush up on a few prerequisite classes in chemistry and biology, she was accepted and enrolled in the CNL program in 2010.

But Moore was looking beyond that. Her ultimate goal was to then enter GRU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program and its acute care nurse practitioner option immediately after graduating as a CNL.

Moore in fact would become the first GRU nursing student to go straight through from the CNL to the DNP program—heralding a sea change in how nursing education is being delivered at GRU and serving as a model for other nursing programs who are watching GRU’s innovations closely.

The DNP Difference

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the College of Nursing’s DNP program—which was one of just 10 in the nation when it launched in the summer of 2005. For nursing dean Dr. Lucy Marion, launching the program was a prerequisite of her accepting the dean’s position at GRU (then named the Medical College of Georgia).

“We knew it was going to be the future,” said Marion. She recently had served as president of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and the data crossing her desk revealed that nurse practitioner students were spending considerably more classroom and clinical hours to learn what they needed—approaching doctoral levels. “We saw that, and we said, ‘Something’s happening here,’” said Marion.

That “something” was a knowledge explosion in health care due to a rapidly changing health care environment, coupled with a growing nationwide shortage of primary care physicians and limits to resident physician hours. Nurse practitioners had been stepping up to fill the gap, providing primary care and ensuring care coordination and patient education, all while still holding the patient’s hand during tough times.

A handful of institutions, including Columbia University, were already responding to these changes with their own version of a DNP program, and Marion connected with all four. “That’s when I had an a-ha moment,” she said. “I went to a board meeting after that and said, ‘Folks, this is going to happen, and it’s going to happen big.”

Marion left that meeting with a commitment by the organization to support the development of DNP programs for advanced practice nurses—and three years later she was laying the groundwork for a new DNP program at GRU.

The program was launched after just nine months of planning under the leadership of Dr. Sandy Turner, FNP—“It was rough, very rough, but we pushed it through,” said Marion—with a first class made up entirely of GRU nursing faculty members. Fourteen in all, with 11 graduating, they would serve as a test class to help improve and refine the program.

Marguerite Murphy was one of those students. Then director of the RN to BSN program, Murphy would become director of the DNP program in 2008. “There’s a strong sense of history and a strong sense of pride in being part of the original class,” she said. “We were on the cutting-edge of this DNP movement, and to see where it’s gone and the difference that it has made—it’s been exciting.”

The program has changed rapidly over the past decade. Originally simply a post-masters DNP, acute care nurse practitioner was the first concentration added to the degree, followed by family nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse practitioner. By fall 2016, the plan is to add mental health, nurse anesthesia and nurse executive concentrations, and later, public health.

What hasn’t changed is how the DNP takes nursing to the next level. “To be effective moving forward, advanced practice nurses need to be able to look at the research and decide if they should use it to change their practice,” said Murphy. “They need to be able to understand health care policy and how policies impact care and care delivery to effectively advocate for their patients and for themselves.”

The DNP candidates get an early taste of how they can make a real difference—or as Murphy describes it, “have an equal seat at the table.” Each candidate must complete a final project, which gave Murphy, as a student, the opportunity to work alongside national nursing leaders to develop a multidisciplinary evidence-based guideline to prevent post-operative nausea and vomiting, while Moore proved the effectiveness of video discharge instructions for sickle cell patients—a program that is now being adopted in that clinic and others at GRHealth.

The Future of Advanced Practice Nursing

Marion’s prediction of DNP programs “happening big” was accurate. Today there are more than 250 DNP programs nationwide—and GRU’s program alone has graduated 143 DNPs since its inception, with another 10 expected this May.

But the program isn’t simply resting on its laurels. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine released a report—“The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health”—that, among other things, urged nursing schools to improve their educational systems so that nurses could achieve higher levels of training and education with seamless academic progression, not the least of which was to double the number of doctorally prepared nurses by 2020.

The IOM recommendations were groundbreaking. Nursing culture has always dictated that becoming an advanced practice nurse required earning a degree, stopping to get two or more years of experience, then going back for another degree and so on. The result is that advanced practice nurses are often in their 40s or 50s before they earn a doctoral degree—in contrast to physicians and other health care providers—and miss out on years of productivity where they could have advanced the practice of nursing as DNPs.

Under Marion’s leadership, the seamless transition of nurses from masters to doctorally prepared in about four years compared to 20 has long been another vision of the College of Nursing. It was achieved last year through Moore’s graduation from the DNP program, and about five other CNLs are set to do the same in the next three years, having entered the DNP program this past spring. “This year, the program reached the tipping point,” said Marion. “We know we’re there.”

For Moore, who graduated in May 2014 and is now a nationally certified Adult and Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, her four years of study were challenging, informative, exhilarating and enlightening. During her DNP program, she worked as an ER nurse and is continuing to do so as a nurse practitioner, all while pursuing an international medicine fellowship before she returns to the mission field. “I wouldn’t have done it any other way,” she said.

Her DNP training is already helping her move the practice of nursing forward through evidence applied at the bedside—a skill she will rely on when she is overseas working to care for patients with limited resources. “Becoming a nurse … It was a good decision,” she said with a smile. “I love it, I really do; and I’m excited to finally be able to apply all this preparation, all this training for people who need urgent and emergent health care.”

Sign up for emergency texts with GR Alerts

In an emergency, where would you turn for information?

GR Alerts is the alert system Georgia Regents University uses to send urgent emails, voice messages, and text messages to students, faculty, and staff.

“In a real-world emergency we turn to GR Alerts to notify our community of threats,” said Joe Webber, Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPaR) Coordinator. “Text messages are one of the best and most reliable tools we have to send mass messages quickly, so we’re asking people to please update their contacts with a mobile number. It could save your life.”

The notification system is only used to disseminate breaking developments in an emergency such as severe weather, safety issues affecting the hospital or campuses, or crime.

In order to receive urgent texts, students, faculty and staff must include an accurate, up-to-date mobile number in their Human Resources system (SoftServ, Pounce, or Unicorn). To sign up:


  • Go to
  • Sign in to your HR system
  • Navigate to employee contact information
  • Update your contacts with a mobile number in the SMS Phone (Text) field
  • Receive text alerts in an emergency


The GR Alerts system is tested by the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response and GRU Public Safety at regular intervals and during drills on campus. Up to four email addresses and 10 phone numbers can be registered for each person, allowing employees to get notifications on both personal and work cell phones.


For more information or to sign up, see

Dunk tank, food truck kick off Donate Life Month on April 1

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A Donate Life Day celebration – including radio partners, food truck, and dunk tank – kicks off National Donate Life Month at GRHealth on April 1.

The GRHealth Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program will partner with patient volunteers for the event, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, at the flagpole outside Georgia Regents Medical Center on the corner of 15th and Harper streets.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr. will speak, followed by a donor registration drive by the LifeLink Foundation. On site will be WBBQ (104-FM), who will broadcast from the event, and the Fat Man’s Café food truck.

“This event celebrates those that have saved lives through organ donation. We want to honor the gift of organ donation while also raising awareness of the critical need for more donors,” said Dr. Todd Merchen, Surgical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program.

In Augusta, more than 1,120 patients are currently on the waiting list for a new kidney or pancreas.

Nationwide, nearly 124,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant. More than 1,000 are under the age of 10.

Celebrated in April each year, National Donate Life Month features a range of local, regional, and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors. At GRHealth, events include Donate Life Night with The Augusta Greenjackets on April 20 and a T-shirt sale.

The purchase of a “Give Life” T-shirt helps fund the development of a commemorative tribute to organ donors and annual ceremony celebrating the gift of life. Purchase a T-shirt or learn more about becoming a living donor.

Biotech pioneer to speak on personalized medicine at Graduate Research Day

Dr. Leroy Hood, a renowned systems biologist who helped pioneer the human genome program with the development of the automated DNA sequencer, is the keynote speaker for Georgia Regents University’s 31st annual Graduate Research Day.

Hood’s presentation, “Systems Medicine and Proactive P4 Medicine: Catalyzing a Revolution in Healthcare,” will cap off the two-day event. His presentation will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 20, in the Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium on the GRU Health Sciences Campus.

Hood’s professional career began at the California Institute of Technology when he and his colleagues developed the DNA gene sequencer and synthesizer and the protein sequencer and synthesizer – four instruments that paved the way for the successful mapping of the human genome, which revolutionized biomedicine and forensic science.

“Dr. Hood is an internationally recognized scientist that has had a major impact on modern biology, including the development of the fluorescent DNA sequencer, the work horse of the human genome project,” said Dr. Richard McIndoe, Associate Director for the Center of Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine at GRU. He worked with Dr. Hood as a post-doctoral fellow in his laboratory in the Department of Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Washington.

Hood’s keynote will be of particular value to future clinicians and researchers, McIndoe said.

“He pioneered the use of systems biology in medicine and will be talking about the future and implementation of what he calls P4 medicine,” he said. “The four P’s stand for predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory, which he argues will improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs.”

President of the Institute for Systems Biology, Hood’s research continues with new approaches to P4 medicine. His laboratory also continues to develop new tools and applications for genomics, such as large-scale DNA sequencing and computation, including various approaches to delineating and engineering biological networks, and nanotechnology measurements of blood proteins.

Other Graduate Research Day activities at GRU include oral research presentations by postdoctoral fellows from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, March 19, in Room 2109 of the Interdisciplinary Research Building; and poster presentations from fellows, medical residents, and graduate students from 10 a.m. to noon, March 20, in the Wellness Center.

The event gives students an opportunity to receive feedback on their work and sharpen presentation skills before presenting at national meetings. Presentations are judged by faculty and awards are presented by The Graduate School and participating programs and colleges.

U.S. Congressman Rick Allen tours GRU

U.S. Congressman Rick Allen (R-Ga.-12) toured Georgia Regents University and spoke with faculty members about GRU’s cyber education program and future plans for university facilities. In addition to the GRU campus, Allen also visited Georgia Regents Medical Center’s Emergency Department and spoke with medical staff about initiatives they are implementing to strengthen emergency care and address challenges in rural health. Read more about the visit. 

50 Shades of Abuse? GRU expert available to speak on new film, domestic violence

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The film 50 Shades of Grey opened in theaters Friday amid controversy and boycotts of its violent sex scenes and power dynamics. Dr. Allison Foley, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Social Work at Georgia Regents University, is available for interviews about the new film and whether it legitimizes sexual violence common in domestic abuse.

Foley, Chair of GRU’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month planning committee, can speak on topics including:

  • Warning signs of intimate partner violence
  • Whether films like 50 Shades of Grey normalize violence against women
  • Resources for women and men in dangerous relationships

Foley studies and teaches about gender, crime and victimization, social deviance, and corrections. After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Oklahoma State University, she worked for the Payne County Drug Court in Stillwater, Okla. While receiving her doctorate in sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she worked for the Blueprints for Violence Prevention Initiative. She is involved in an ongoing project evaluating a gender-based violence prevention program for elementary school-aged boys. This research will publish in the next issue of the journal Masculinities and Social Change.

Foley has also been published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, Violence Against Women, Sociology Compass; is a member of the American Society of Criminology; and is involved in GRU’s Correctional Health Research Program.

To schedule an interview with Foley, contact Kelly Jasper at 706-513-0719.


Dental Medicine names new Associate Dean for Research

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dr. Christopher W. Cutler has been named Associate Dean for Research at the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine.

Cutler has served as Interim Associate Dean for Research since July 2013 and Chairman of the Department of Periodontics since 2011 and will continue in that role.

“We’re grateful to Dr. Cutler for his service as Interim Associate Dean of Research and are delighted to welcome him to his new appointment in the College of Dental Medicine,” said Dr. Carol A. Lefebvre, Dean of the College of Dental Medicine.

Cutler holds appointments as Professor in the Departments of Periodontics and Oral Biology. Prior to coming to GRU in 2011, Cutler served as Associate Dean for Research at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine in Stony Brook, New York. There he developed and directed the Center for Oral-Systemic Health Research and taught as a Professor in the Department of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry. Cutler also previously taught in the Department of Periodontics at the University of Texas Houston and Baylor-Texas A&M College of Dentistry.

“Dr. Cutler is a leader in research and education and a valued adviser to our students,” Lefebvre said. “As a mentor, Dr. Cutler takes particular pride in his track record of inspiring students to pursue careers in dental academics and research. This is evident by the number of former students who are now full-time faculty at dental schools nationally and internationally.”

Cutler earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree and Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Pathology at Emory University in Atlanta, where he also completed his residency training in Periodontics. Following Emory, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in anaerobic microbiology at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit #3 in Cairo, Egypt, and later further postdoctoral training at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas.

Cutler received the National Research Service Award from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research in 1987, a Balint Orban award from the American Academy of Periodontology in 1989, and an Edward Hatton Award from the American Association of Dental Research in 1990. While at Baylor conducting research in immunology, he received the first award in the Clinical Sciences Research category at the seventh meeting of the International Academy of Periodontology in Slovenia in 1999. He more recently received the Bernard S. Moskow International Lectureship in Periodontology at Columbia University in 2008.