On June 19, Cheryl Lacasse, MS, RN, OCN, clinical professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, was named the Mountain West regional winner of the GEM (Giving Excellence Meaning) Award for Advancing and Leading the Profession. As one of six regional winners, Lacasse is under consideration for GEM National Nurse of the Year.
The award, presented by Nurse.com and sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future, is given annually to a registered nurse who is well-known and respected as a visionary, innovative leader and “change agent,” who moves the profession forward through work in patient care administration, education or research.
Lacasse, who has taught at the UA College of Nursing for 19 years, led the curriculum development team and is the faculty coordinator for the Registered Nurse to Master of Science (RN-MS) in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership online program. Shortly after the start of the program, which initially was designed for working nurses holding associate degrees, Lacasse developed an additional track for nurses holding baccalaureate degrees.
Since the launch of the program in January 2013 with a group of 20 students, enrollment has grown to more than 350. In addition to teaching in the RN-MS program, Lacasse continues to support its success by overseeing, mentoring and guiding the faculty team.
“Cheri is a true leader of online graduate education and her extensive knowledge of online technology and learning platform management has been critical to the success of the RN-MS program,” wrote Connie S. Miller, MS, RNC-OB, CNE, CCCE, clinical assistant professor at the UA College of Nursing, in her nomination letter. “Cheri’s experience and understanding of nursing curriculum, linked with her wisdom of real-world circumstances, enhances her impact on all of us, urging nurses and colleagues to develop into nursing leaders.”
Lacasse is also the faculty lead for the new Integrative Nursing Faculty Fellowship, offered through the UA College of Nursing. A certified oncology nurse since 1987, she has extensive experience caring for oncology and bone marrow transplant patients, managing complex care of cancer survivors, and integrating nursing therapeutics for symptom management and long-term health and wellbeing.
Previous awards for Lacasse include recognition by her nursing peers as a Tucson Fabulous 50 Nurse (2005), by her students with the UA College of Nursing Excellence in Teaching Award (2011), and by her faculty colleagues with the McGaffic, Monroe, and Rogers Memorial Award for Clinical Teaching (2008) and the first Suzanne Van Ort Peer Teaching Award (2002).