Two faculty members at the UCF College of Nursing have received the distinguished honor of fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Nursing (FAAN).

Associate Professor Desiree Díaz and Clinical Associate Professor Laura Gonzalez, who are among only 50 certified advanced healthcare simulation educators in the world, were inducted as fellows at the Academy’s annual conference held virtually Oct. 29-31. This year’s class of fellows represent 38 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territory of Guam and 13 countries.

Desiree A. Díaz, PhD, RN-BC, CNE, CHSE-A, ANEF, FAAN

Díaz was recognized for her significant contributions to advancing health equity and promoting innovation. For more than a decade, Díaz has focused her nursing service, education and research on using best practices in simulation to expose and eliminate healthcare disparities. The results of her work have been published extensively in research journals and textbooks, and has been presented nationally and internationally. Her education and research have addressed disparities in patient populations, including people with limited English proficiency, inmates and transgender individuals. Díaz was one of the first simulation educators in the U.S. to formally address racial equity in simulation manikins, raising questions related to cost inequities between manikins representing the underserved and resulting in change worldwide to equalize pricing.

“She goes beyond the traditional boundaries, pushing toward the underserved and non-traditional practice settings, such as corrections facilities,” says KT Waxman, associate professor at the University of San Francisco and immediate past president of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. “Her research is shaping the simulation community in a great way.”

Laura Gonzalez ’08PhD, APRN, CNE, CHSE-A, ANEF, FAAN

Gonzalez was recognized for her significant contributions to advancing nursing science in the field of simulation and innovative technologies. She is currently director of collegewide simulation at UCF’s College of Nursing and past board member of the International Nursing Association Clinical Simulation & Learning. Together with an interdisciplinary team of scientists at UCF, Gonzalez is pioneering new ways of teaching and improving health outcomes through augmented and virtual realities. The collaborative efforts have resulted in two patents, and include the innovative physical virtual patient bed system. The team has also been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation, of which Gonzalez serves as co-principal investigator and subject matter expert for the research studies. A leader in the simulation community, she has been an invited speaker worldwide, and presented her research nationally and internationally.

“Emerging technologies are vital to our ability to educate the future nursing workforce of digital learners, and Dr. Gonzalez is both an innovator and early adopter in this area, creating a pathway for other educators in academia and practice to follow,” says Michelle Aebersold, clinical professor at the University of Michigan.

Díaz and Gonzalez are among 21 distinguished national faculty fellows at the College of Nursing. With their appointments, the college now boasts 12 faculty members who are esteemed fellows of the American Academy of Nursing — the highest honor for the nursing profession.