James Madison University

Nursing Newsletter for Alumni and Friends

Jan/Feb 2016

Letter From The Director

Dr. Julie SanfordIn August of 2013 the JMU Nursing Faculty unanimously adopted a vision to become a School of Nursing, nationally recognized for academic excellence and innovative contributions to health care. A proposal was submitted in the fall of 2014 and I am happy to announce that School status was granted and took effect January 1, 2016.  A criterion for school designation at James Madison University is that the unit is established around disciplines that lead to a professional degree, which is clearly the case for nursing, where academic programming spans baccalaureate to doctoral education. Transition to the status of School of Nursing is consistent with the mission, vision, and values of JMU Nursing.

A School of Nursing heightens distinction and prestige, and, in turn, may increase our ability not only to attract quality students but also to recruit and retain doctorally prepared nursing faculty interested in teaching at a nationally ranked university. This status could also increase our opportunities for funding sources, including private donors, foundations, and state and federal granting agencies, in an environment that has become exceptionally competitive. 

Over the years JMU Nursing has enjoyed a reputation of having excellence in both academic programs and faculty that graduate highly educated and well prepared nurses. Our School of Nursing status will increase visibility and strengthen the influence of the academic unit in our capacity to provide professional education, increase the pipeline of undergraduate and graduate students, and enhance the academic unit’s presence in combined endeavors to develop interprofessional education and research programs within the college and university. 

Best Wishes for a happy and healthy Spring!
Julie Sanford, DNS, RN
Professor and Director of Nursing

AlumNewsLC Rachel Engler

Rachel Engler (05), Veteran Advocate and Ms. Veteran America 2015 2nd Runner Up
When Professor Christina Lam mentioned one of our alums was competing in the Ms. Veteran America Pageant I was excited to feature her in the newsletter. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that there was much more of a story to share when speaking about Lieutenant Commander Rachel Engler.

After graduating from JMU in 2005 Rachel was commissioned as an Officer in the US Navy and was stationed on active duty at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center where she worked on a busy surgical ward caring for service members from Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of the world. During her 2 years there she received the Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal for dedicated medical care. Also during this time Rachel auditioned and earned a spot as a Washington Redskins Cheerleader!

In 2008 as she was deployed for 8 months to Afghanistan as an individual Augmentee supporting Armed Special Forces and the Joint Special Operations Task Force. At age 24 she was the only female officer on the isolated compound to mentor and teach 10 enlisted personnel, perform duties as a critical care/trauma nurse, shadow the CNRA, participate in ground missions with Army Special Forces as well as fly medical evacuation missions with Air Force Combat Search and Rescue Teams. LTJG Engler was nominated for the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service which through the Navy became an Army Commendation Medal, awarded a campaign star and ISAF joint service medal for her time served. She also took an online Biochemistry course and began applying to grad schools to pursue her pre-deployment goal of getting her MSN.
After her return to home LT Engler changed to Reserve status and  moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University's Nurse Anesthesia Master's Program.

During this transition period Rachel began suffering the effects of deployment and wounded care experience and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She began counseling and was determined to put it behind her. LT Engler took part in a brand new 12 week PTSD program that was designed specifically for Women Veterans. She credits this program to getting her life back in order and giving her the tools and strength needed to help others coping with tragic and unreal circumstances.

In 2011 Rachel was faced with adversity again becoming ill and suffering from a mysterious autoimmune disease. Four years later she was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease the limits the use of one's voluntary muscles including the diaphragm, eyes, throat and peripheral muscles. During this difficult time of receiving life sustaining intravenous infusions she pressed on and was able to graduate and receive her CNRA certification. Rachel then accepted a position at the University of Arizona Medical Center but fell ill again in 2014 and made the decision to move back to DC to be closer to family and explore more opportunities for health care.

Rachel currently works full time at a busy Level 1 Trauma Center in Northern Virginia as part of a large and supportive Anesthesia group. Through competing in Ms. Veteran America she has been able to promote the cause and advocate for homeless Women Veterans, the platform of which the competition is focused. LCDR Engler is also affiliated with Final Salute Inc. whose mission is to provide homeless women Veterans with safe and suitable housing.
Rachel continues to work toward many life goals including participating in a medical mission trip overseas, learn Spanish and possibly earn a doctoral degree, hoping to set an example and a caring passionate expectation for her future family. She believes that "you've never truly lived until you've done something for someone who can never repay you."
Rachel has a public Facebook page and Twitter account where you can follow her efforts  in advocating for Veterans, Myasthenia Gravis and other volunteer passions.


Quin and Erin SweeneyFor 2 Alums More Than Just An Education

Quin Sweeney and Erin (Walker) Sweeney, both May 2013 grads, have many great memories surrounding the JMU Nursing program. They recall having engaged professors, that always made sure they had the support they needed, and a program that provided a strong foundation for their nursing practice. One  special memory they share is the time they spent together walking to Godwin bus station after class getting to know each other. They developed a relationship that they tried to keep quiet to avoid being distracting in class. They knew education had to be the priority in order to achieve their goals of becoming nurses.
After graduating Quin and Erin were unable to land jobs in the same city.  Erin began her career on the Cardiothoracic Surgical unit at VCU and Quin took a position at Washington Hospital Center in DC on a Medicine/Pulmonary step Down unit. After suffering A brutal I-95 commute to see each other they eventually both secured employment in Richmond. The couple were married this past September 6th.

The Sweeney's love heading back to JMU for an occasional visit. Recently Quin surprised Erin with a spontaneous trip to Harrisonburg for a remake of their first date. It included a walk in the Arboretum, Putt Putt at Putter-A-Round Mini Golf and dinner at Billy Jack's. 

Moving forward, Quin has applied to the VCU Family Nurse Practitioner program for Fall of 2016 and Erin hopes to further her career in either Neonatal or Pediatric Intensive Care.

Save the Date!

  Diane BabralThe first annual Diane Babral Memorial 5K Walk/Run will take place on March 19th.

Proceeds will go to the Diane Babral Scholarship for Psychiatric Nursing. Established in March 2015 by nursing students in memory of Professor Diane Babral who passed unexpectedly after a short battle with ovarian cancer. Diane personified what it meant to be a caring, thoughtful, encouraging faculty member and was passionate abut nursing, specifically psychiatric nursing. She was a strong advocate for the vulnerable mentally ill members of our society. The scholarship will be for an undergraduate junior or senior nursing student interested in pursuing psychiatric nursing.
Many of our students were inspired by Diane's passion and are driven to make sure the scholarship is endowed. The event is being organized by members of SAC, PI MU, NSA and  fellow faculty members of Diane's. Join us in support of a worthy cause. Registration information coming soon.

Convocation Awards and Recognitions 2015 


 Rachel Raykov
Merck Scholar Award

This Award is given to the undergraduate nursing student who has achieved the highest cumulative GPA. The recipient of this award was Rachel Raykov. Rachel is currently searching for a job and is  heading to Guatemala at the end of February for 3 1/2 months to work for a non-profit. She then hopes to begin working this summer. 

 Justin Falls
Marcia Dake Rockingham Memorial Hospital Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice

This Award is chosen by faculty and was given to Justin Fall. Justin has accepted a position at UVA Medical Center as an RN on a General Medicine Unit.

Samanth Patterson
Outstanding Undergraduate Senior Peer Award

This Award is given to a student who is nominated by the senior class and then chosen by a vote of the class. This year's recipient was Samantha Patterson. Samantha will be working at UVA Medical Center on their Acute Cardiology Unit.

 Carina Cavalheri
Victoria Alcantara Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award

This is the highest undergraduate student honor. The faculty members select a student who demonstrates excellence in promoting the profession of nursing, actively pursues knowledge, is involved in the university and the community, and exemplifies caring in their nursing practice. This award was presented to Carina Cavalheri. Carina has accepted a position with UCLA in their Neuro/Trauma ICU.

Kristin Orrigo
Honors Program Graduate Kristin Orrigo

The honors program at JMU is an academic community that engages highly motivated and intellectually gifted students in exceptional experiences that develop excellence in leadership, scholarship, and service. Kristen is currently working at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH in their neurology residency program.

For her Honors Thesis Kristen worked closely with Dr. Gleason and Dr. Erika Metzler-Sawin to research interactive music therapy for pediatric oncology patients. It included the creation of an interactive music program called Outside the Music Box, which has now been implemented into hospitals in Boston, including Tufts Floating Children's Hospital. Sponsors are currently exploring the option of working with music specialist James Orrigo to bring this program nation wide. More about this program.

RN-BSN Awards

The RN-BSN Scholar Award went Adam Litvin for having the highest GPA and outstanding academic performance.

The Outstanding RN-BSN Peer Award which is nominated by the class and chosen by a vote went to Anne Roane.

Student and Faculty News

Professor SawinNursing Professor Engages the World
By Daniel Vieth

Nursing Professor Erika Metzler-Sawin  was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship to teach nursing, public health, and medical students in Puducherry, India in spring 2015. Read more.

 Talia Startsman
Startsman Receives Nursing Student Of The Year Award

By Lauren Mitchell

Senior nursing student, Talia Startsman, has been named Nursing Student of the Year by the March of Dimes. Her hard work and excellence were recognized at the 2015 Virginia Nurse of the Year Gala. Read More.

 Health Policy Summit
Health Policy Collaborative Summit

By: Daniel Vieth

JMU's Health Policy Collaborative (HPC) recently hosted their second Health Policy Summit, with 276 students working directly with legislators to explore alternative policies that would help reduce the Medicaid gap impacting 400,000 uninsured Virginians. Read more

Emily Corridon & Caroline Cheatham
Students Raise $18,000 For Precious Time Family

Caroline Cheatham and Emily Corridon partnered with Precious Time as part of their 3rd semester pediatric clinical coursework. Precious Time is a program coordinated by the JMU Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services that provides pediatric respite care to give care givers a break. The success of Precious Time depends on community support and student service. BSN students Caroline Cheatham and Emily Corridon were paired with a family of 5 children the youngest being an infant with severe health issues requiring 24-7 direct care.

When they saw the financial burden the family was suffering from they devised a plan of "adopting" them for Christmas, with their main goal being to give them a joyous holiday season together. Caroline is the president of her sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha and Emily is an executive member. They pitched the idea to their sorority and they took the idea and ran with it! "Our sisters, along with pretty much our entire nursing class donated, emailed friends and family, spread the, word everywhere, and we were blessed with unbelievable donations", said Emily. Not only did they raise $18,000, they collected toys, bikes, clothing, kitchen supplies and gift cards. Both Emily and Caroline felt incredibly fortunate for being able to help this family in many ways and learned so much more on their journey than they ever could have imagined.

JMU School of Nursing employment opportunities

To update and share your information email Michele @ dombrome@jmu.edu

nursingdept@jmu.edu | (540)568-6314




James Madison University
800 S. Main Street
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807
If you wish to be removed from this group's mailing list, click here