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St. Louis Magazine Salutes Saint Louis University Nurses Among the Region’s Best

by Bridjes O'Neil on 04/19/2022
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Bridjes O'Neil
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St. Louis Magazine recognized the region’s top nurses during the 13th annual Excellence in Nursing Virtual Awards Ceremony held on Thursday, April 14. 

Among the winners were two from the Saint Louis University Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing: Devita Stallings, Ph.D., and Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D. 

An aerial photo of of SLU’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing. SLU file photo.

An aerial photo of of SLU’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing. SLU file photo. 

Nursing faculty at SLU are nationally recognized for their teaching expertise, nursing leadership, scholarly research, and student mentorship. SLU's School of Nursing faculty members have won numerous prestigious awards, honors, and fellowships, including frequent honors from the March of Dimes and Excellence in Nursing Awards.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered our everyday lives and challenged the medical community, SLU nurses have exhibited selfless care, compassion, and service. Now, more than ever, we applaud their efforts.

“Nurses across the region deserve a standing ovation,” said Danny Willis, DNS, dean and professor at SLU’s School of Nursing. “I hope everyone who knows a nurse in the St. Louis region is reaching out to them to offer a personal message of gratitude.” 

Devita Stallings, Ph.D., RN to BSN program coordinator and associate professor of nursing at SLU, was named the winner in the Emerging Leader category. Stallings has more than 10 years of experience in emergency nursing and more than 16 years of experience in academia. Stallings is a past St. Louis Magazine Excellence in Nursing Award honoree in the Educator category. Her research interests include factors influencing self-management behaviors of minority populations with hypertension and heart failure.

Devita Stallings, Ph.D.
Devita Stallings, Ph.D. Photo by Sarah Conroy.

Stallings is a recognized leader in cardiovascular diseases and serves on several of the American Heart Association's committees, including as a board member for the St. Louis area and an invited member of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care's Science subcommittee. Stallings is a 2022-2023 Clinical and Translational Research Funding Program awardee. She will use grant funds to develop a web-based mobile health app for self-management of hypertension. Stallings is vice-president of the Delta Lambda Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, and she recently completed a four-year elected term on Sigma's Leadership Succession Committee. 

Willis said Stallings is a community-engaged advocate and leader committed to advancing and diversifying the profession of nursing through education and research.

“She is involved in the work of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and anti-racist initiatives in SLU's School of Nursing and at the University,” Willis said. “Stallings embodies what we stand for as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”

Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D., the Irene Riddle Endowed Chair and professor of nursing at SLU, was named the winner in the Research category. Hendricks-Ferguson is an American Academy of Nursing Fellow, the highest professional recognition in nursing. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the March of Dimes 2019 Nurse Legend Award.

Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D.
Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D. SLU file photo.

Willis said Hendricks-Ferguson is an excellent example of what being an SLU nurse means.

“Dr. Hendricks-Ferguson conducts NIH-funded research in pediatric palliative and end-of-life care and embraces the opportunity to mentor others who are on the path to becoming nurse scientists,” Willis said. “She does this with a great spirit of care and concern for society's health needs while providing knowledge, skills, and coaching to those nurses who care to make a difference through nursing research.”

A selection committee comprised of five judges from outside the St. Louis area narrowed the field to more than 60 honorees in 17 categories. St. Louis Magazine named six nurses from the School of Nursing and SLUCare physician practice as honorees for the 2022 Excellence in Nursing Awards.

Excellence in Nursing honorees:

Advanced Practice Category

Matthew Buhr, a SLUCare geriatric nurse practitioner at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, is nominated in the Advanced Practice category. Buhr's colleagues note his commitment to seniors. He is recognized for consistently going above and beyond, always thinking of ways to improve, and for being an advocate for his patients and geriatric medicine.

Educator Category

Kathleen Armstrong, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at SLU, is nominated in the Educator category. Armstrong has worked at the University for over 33 years and taught for SLU's School of Nursing for 15 years. Armstrong is active in the community. She is a recipient of the inaugural Deborah S. Manne Oncology Nursing Research Fund. She is a member of the Missouri Nurses Association, Midwest Nursing Research Society, Oncology Nursing Society, and Delta Lambda Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.

Medical-Surgical Nursing Category

Amanda Fitzpatrick, adjunct faculty of nursing at SLU, is nominated in the Medical-Surgical Nursing category. Fitzpatrick also serves as nursing manager over SLU Hospital’s Acute Care for the Elderly Unit. Colleagues report that she is passionate about nursing, from educating and leading the next generation to her work as an RN at the bedside when needed. 

Research Category

Vicki Moran, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at SLU and trauma research coordinator for SSM Health SLU Hospital, is also nominated in the Research category. Moran has taught at the University since 2009 and has been affiliated with the hospital for 30 years. Her certifications include Certificated Nurse Educator, Certified Diabetes Educator, Advanced Public Health Nursing, and Trauma Nurse Specialist. Moran is a recipient of the March of Dimes 2019 Nurse Educator of the Year Award.

St. Louis Magazine will profile the winning nurses in the magazine's May issue. Read more about past recipients from 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016.

View Full List of Nominees

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About Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing

Founded in 1928, the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing at Saint Louis University has achieved a national reputation for its innovative and pioneering programs. Offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs, its faculty members are nationally recognized for their teaching, research and clinical expertise.