Three faculty members at the University of Central Florida’s College of Nursing have been inducted as fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Nursing, an honor given to highly distinguished nurse leaders.

The UCF honorees in the 2019 class of fellows are:

  • Christopher W. Blackwell
  • Annette Bourgault
  • Victoria Loerzel

Each was selected for their significant contributions to nursing theory, practice and science. The three faculty were among 231 inductees honored during a ceremony Oct. 26 at the academy’s annual conference in Washington. This year’s class of fellows represents 38 states, the District of Columbia and 17 countries. American Academy of Nursing fellows include leaders in hospitals, government, academia and the scientific community.

Blackwell ’00 ’01MSN ’05PhD, an associate professor, is a national expert on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer health. His work was among the earliest on point-of-service screening of HIV by nurses, and today his research continues to guide nurses on providing care and making clinical decisions for high-risk and vulnerable populations. For example, his research on the use of a smart phone application to help providers make vaccine-administration decisions for HIV-infected adults has contributed to safer and more effective health outcomes. A board-certified adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner and adult nurse practitioner, Blackwell has received numerous honors in his career including the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Educator Award and being inducted as a fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. He currently serves as program director for the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner graduate programs and is a commissioner on the board of directors for the certified nurse educator program for the National League for Nursing.

Bourgault, an assistant professor, is a widely published researcher and frequent presenter in the area of critical-care nursing, and a recognized national expert on feeding-tube verification and evidence-based practice. Her evidence-based practice initiatives have resulted in improved patient outcomes, including reducing central line infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia. As an educator, she has taught evidence-based critical care orientation programs to more than 150 nurses, educated more than 1,100 graduate nursing students in evidence-based practice, and has mentored more than 800 students in the development of evidence-based practice presentations. She has also made significant contributions to increase diversity in pre-licensure nursing students, earning national funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for seven consecutive years, and was awarded another grant to study factors associated with satisfaction, retention and future advancement of underrepresented nursing students. In addition to her faculty role, she is a nurse scientist with Orlando Health and editor for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ journal, Critical Care Nurse. An active member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, she has served on several national committees and recently was honored with a Research Abstract Award.

An oncology certified nurse with more than two decades of experience in the field, Loerzel ’07PhD, an associate professor, has focused her research on improving symptom management and quality of life for older adults with cancer. She was the first nurse researcher to identify misperceptions of older adults related to common evidence-based strategies as being ineffective at self-managing symptoms at home. After receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health, she became the first nurse scientist to develop and test an innovative avatar-based simulation to give to older cancer patients before discharge to improve their quality of life by visualizing the consequences of self-care decisions after chemotherapy. The study serves as a model of serious gaming for older adults and using technology in education. Loerzel has received numerous honors for her research, including her appointment to the Beat M. and Jill L. Kahli Endowed Professorship in Oncology Nursing at UCF, which she has held since 2016. In addition to her academic appointments within the College of Nursing, she is leveraging her expertise in gerontology nursing as a member of the Disability, Aging, and Technology UCF faculty cluster initiative, is a nurse scientist at Orlando Health, and recently served as a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Research Early Career Review Program.

Blackwell, Bourgault and Loerzel are among 21 total distinguished national faculty fellows at the UCF College of Nursing. Additionally, Blackwell and Loerzel are among three UCF Knight nurse alumni to receive the distinguished FAAN honor this year. Kenneth (Ken) Dion ’91BSN, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the UCF College of Nursing and assistant dean for strategic relations and business development at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, was also among this year’s class of fellows.