January 19, 2012 — Sarah Farrell, associate professor in the University of Virginia's School of Nursing, was awarded the inaugural Elsevier Exceptional Nursing Educator Award on Jan. 2 at the Contemporary Forums Nurse Educator conference in Las Vegas.
The award's sponsor, Elsevier, based in Amsterdam, is a leader in journal and book publishing and an innovator in the use of cutting-edge technology to promote exploration, discovery and application of scientific, technical and medical information.
The award recognizes Farrell's exceptional skills, innovation and effectiveness in promoting student learning, professionalism and self-confidence and in integrating technology in the classroom.
"To be recognized in this way shows the importance of student learning outcomes during a paradigm shift away from lecture and to more interactive learning using the right technologies," Farrell said.
Farrell teaches informatics, health policy, psychiatric nursing, leadership, foundations of nursing research and an inter-professional course on evaluating health information on the Web in which she teaches students to be savvy consumers, critique content and develop their own web pages. As the Nursing School's first chief technology officer, a position she held from 2005 to 2010, she helped create a bridge between faculty and new technologies in their research and teaching.
"Creative faculty like Sarah are needed for teaching the next generation," Dorrie Fontaine, dean of the Nursing School, said.
Farrell is known for involving students in research and has inspired many to pursue advanced degrees. In her research, she uses emerging technologies to develop tools for health promotion and maintenance for patients. Her interdisciplinary research includes teams from the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the College of Arts & Sciences. She holds a joint appointment in the School of Medicine's Department of Public Health Sciences. She also sits on the Engineering School's advisory committee for the National Library of Medicine's Medical Informatics/Systems Engineering Training program.
One of her projects, an electronic screening tool, helps patients access information about depression and alcohol use especially in rural primary care. Her global work involves introducing technology to nurses in remote areas of South Africa and rural clinics in the Bahamas.
The Elsevier Award selection committee received more than 50 entries from across the country with stories of outstanding faculty promoting student learning.
— By Jane Ford