Saint Louis University

St. Louis Magazine Salutes Two Nursing Faculty

St. Louis Magazine recognized two faculty members from Saint Louis University School of Nursing as among the top nurses in the region because of their positive impact on students and colleagues.

The magazine received more than 200 nominations for its annual excellence in nursing awards and selected 66 finalists in 18 categories. The two SLU faculty were named the winners in each of their categories.

Judith Carlson, MSN, associate professor of nursing, was named the top nursing educator. A SLU nursing faculty member has captured the top educator award for four of the five years the magazine has given the award.

Dorcas McLaughlin, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing, was the winner in the neurology, psychology, behavioral health category.

All finalists were recognized at an April 23 reception at the Chase Park Plaza, and nurses selected as winners are profiled in the May issue of St. Louis Magazine.

Judith Carlson, MSN
Carlson has been a nurse educator at Saint Louis University for more than four decades. "Judge Judy," as one student called her, is a leader who is genuine, empathic, honest and warm. Her sense of caring for students is a creative blend of tough love and emotional caring.

When students have personal and academic crises, Carlson redirects their thinking from the negative, immediate tragedy to helping them view their experience as a stumbling on a much grander experience of life, not to be discouraged but to be challenged to do better.

She has chauffeured students who have no other way home from the airport, visited them in the hospital and dipped into her pockets to provide emergency financial support. Carlson is equally supportive of faculty, demonstrating her willingness to go the extra mile by mentoring them professionally and offering special help in times of personal crisis.

Carlson also is an innovative nurse educator whose work has helped shape SLU's interprofessional education program, which teaches students from multiple disciplines how to work together to achieve the best possible patient outcome. She made major contributions to the most recent changes to SLU's undergraduate nursing curriculum, and was honored last November with an award for transformative teaching and learning in the classroom. Her work with colleagues from the Madrid campus' nursing program, which earned the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in Global Education, was instrumental in ensuring its success. She serves on numerous committees and task forces, giving freely of her time and talent.

The coauthor of six books and a major contributor to two federally funded projects at SLU's School of Nursing, Carlson demonstrates leadership in nursing education beyond the University campus.

Dorcas McLaughlin, Ph.D.
A stage is an unexpected tool Dorcas McLaughlin, Ph.D., employs to teach student nurses to better communicate with their patients. While much of nursing education is in the lecture "left brain" mode, McLaughlin taps into the "right brain," incorporating art, music, physical movement and imagery to teach students how to connect with patients, which is critical for effective treatment.

One of only three board certified practitioners of psychodrama in Missouri, McLaughlin combines the stage in her classroom with props and lighting to encourage students to act and show rather than to simply talk and tell about experiences.

McLaughlin guides students through a complex form of role play, so they feel patient interactions as real and personal. Students act as patients, family members, nurses and hospital staff -- seeing a particular experience through many perspectives. This helps them to grow into more effective and empathic health practitioners who are better equipped to deal with patients as they face sensitive subjects.

McLaughlin brings to her teaching knowledge and skills from years as a clinical nurse specialist and practicing psychiatric mental health nurse, who now uses psychodrama to counsel individuals and couples. In her private practice, she cares for patients who frequently are in crisis and have complicated psychological issues, such as depression, grief/bereavement difficulty, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, eating disorders and relationship issues. McLaughlin also is known in St. Louis for her special work with sexual trauma victims.

McLaughlin is director and treasurer of the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy, has lectured nationally and, during the past four years, has written seven research papers.

Nancy Solomon

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