Simulation expert and assistant professor at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing Desiree Díaz has been honored with the Excellence in Academia Award from the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation & Learning (INACSL).

The annual award is given to an educator who demonstrates excellence in simulation teaching and learning through flexibility, creativity and innovation. Díaz received the award at the INACSL conference in Washington, D.C. on June 23, 2017. The INACSL is a community of more than 2,000 members in 13 countries dedicated to improving patient safety through excellence in health care simulation.

“Dr. Díaz exemplifies the terms ‘flexible, creative, enthusiastic and innovative,’ and brings relevance, research and evidence-based practice together to facilitate learning,” said Mindi Anderson, PhD, ARNP, CPNP-PC, CNE, CHSE-A, ANEF, associate professor and healthcare simulation program coordinator at the college. “She has developed informal web-based discussions for graduate students, tripled the amount of clinical simulations over the past two semesters for undergraduates, and used live and virtual simulations to facilitate critical thinking.”

As a nurse educator for the past 13 years, Desiree Díaz has focused her career and research on simulation. Her research, which has been widely published and presented, combines the cutting-edge technology of simulation with the deeper human emotion of empathy to train health care providers to more effectively care for vulnerable and underserved patient populations, including correctional health care, limited English proficient patients and transgender patients.

Her public service in the area of correctional health care includes serving as director of virtual and simulation education for the Center for Correctional Health Networks and building a simulation van to facilitate health care training in correctional settings. In addition, she serves on the membership committee of INASCL where she has been a member since 2008, and is a member of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and the National League for Nursing. Díaz is on the Pediatric vSim Computerized Simulation Editorial Advisory Board of Wolters Kluwer Health, and is a reviewer for Nursing Education Perspectives, Clinical Simulation in Nursing and Correctional HealthNet Journal.

Díaz is a certified nurse educator and one of only 22 advanced simulation-certified faculty worldwide. In her career, she has been honored numerous times for excellence in research and education. Prior to joining UCF in 2015, she was associate clinical professor at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing where she earned her BSN, MSN and PhD. She completed a simulation research post-doctorate fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.