June 22, 2009 — The University of Virginia School of Nursing Alumni Association announced Marianne Baernholdt as the recipient of its 2009 Excellence in Teaching Award.
"I feel very honored," Baernholdt said. "When I heard I received the award, I thanked all of my students – former and current – because I do not know who wrote the letter on my behalf."
The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes and supports Nursing School faculty who have distinguished themselves as leaders in the profession and made exceptional contributions to the education of nursing students, through research or scholarly work. Nominations require a least two letters of support, one from a faculty member and one from a student.
Baernholdt teaches a special series of leadership development courses in the Clinical Nurse Leader program, as well as care environment management – courses in system and organizational theories applied to health care, including chaos, complexity and change theories.
Her courses focus on quality and safety in health care in the environment, the organization, the nursing unit and in direct patient care.
In a letter of support, a student described her classes this way: "Her seminars challenge the health care system status quo as they inform students of the breadth of research, and their passions engaged. She teaches students to investigate and critically parse complex health care research, and enables students to create their own capstone research project to implement a needed evidence-based health care system change."
As one of the faculty letters noted, Baernholdt "consistently conveys a deep and always growing understanding of the material with which she works, a commitment to the basic values that undergird all professions, a commitment to the creation of new knowledge that infuses and enlivens the classroom and a vision for a more perfect, yet reachable future."
A student nomination letter said: "Professor Baernholdt has the ability to distill complex ideas and broaden the idea of nursing as a practice that extends beyond direct patient care to encompass the healthcare system, policy decisions, and our community."
"In my opinion, this award is largely the students' voice," Baernholdt said, "which is truly rewarding, because being a professor is a highlight of my career."
The award includes a modest monetary award, which Baernholdt said will probably go toward the education and research conferences she plans to attend in the coming weeks. One stop Baernholdt will make is to the International Council of Nurses' Congress in Durban, South Africa. There she will present her research and take on a new role as a member of the council's Rural & Remote Nurses Network core steering group.
Along with teaching, Baernholdt currently has four funded studies, all with a focus on quality of care and quality of life for rural residents, and is active in international initiatives within and outside of U.Va.