Celebrating the Year of the Nurse in 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the year 2020 as The Year of the Nurse and Midwife in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

During this year of recognition, Resurrection University will celebrate our own community of nurses with events and activities honoring our faculty, students and partners. And we invite you to join us!

More information to follow soon!

May 12, 2020: Happy 200th Birthday, Florence Nightingale!

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy on May 12th, 1820 to an affluent British family. Even as a child, she was active in philanthropy as a child and believed nursing to be her “divine purpose.” Nightingale’s influence on the field of nursing continues long after her death, and much of her legacy remains relevant in healthcare today.

Featured Nurse of the Month

January’s Nurse of the Month: Dr. Reem Azhari

Dr. Azhari began her healthcare career as an operating room nurse. But as she gained experience building teams of different medical professionals, she found herself pulled into more managerial, administrative, and executive roles. Dr. Azhari says that her administrative experience, particularly her interest in leadership and development, led naturally to teaching.

While working at Resurrection Medical Center, Dr. Azhari created a program to educate OR nurses—an effort that resulted in her transitioning into her current position as Resurrection University’s first Endowed Chair of Interprofessional Education. Dr. Azhari aims not only to build the school’s IPE scholars program, which graduates nursing and health sciences students ready to enter the workforce in situations demanding collaborative practice; she also seeks to weave interprofessional education throughout the curriculum as a whole, from the bachelor’s through the doctoral level.

In addition to her commitment to interprofessional education, Dr. Azhari is dedicated to educating students about and meeting the needs of vulnerable populations. Part of this interest has involved serving two terms as Director of International Health for the United Nations Association-Greater Chicago Chapter, as well as her current role as the faculty advisor for the ResU-United Nations Association. She has also been involved with medical and peace missions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Philippines.

Dr. Azhari was also featured in ResU’s “Amazing Campaign,” with her photo displayed on billboards, buses, and bus shelters all over the city. You can also hear her insights on our Thinking Out Loud podcast this month in a conversation about interprofessional education and its impact on reducing medical mistakes.

Dr. Azhari holds a MSN from Saint Xavier University and a PhD in organizational leadership from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

February’s Nurse of the Month: Dr. Yolanda A. Coleman

Dr. Yolanda A. Coleman, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Resurrection University, is an influential leader in the healthcare industry. She is the System Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at Sinai Health System and previously served as the Senior Director of Patient Care Services at Saint Anthony Hospital, the Director of Patient Care of Walter Payton Liver Center and Transplant/Surgical Services at UI Health, and Administrative Director for Loyola Health.

Dr. Coleman uses her talents and skills to create life changing moments in people’s lives. She is passionate about caring for others and making a difference in the community, especially by helping underserved communities and providing expertise to guide healthcare legislation. While maintaining a balance as a mom, professional nurse leader, and educator, Dr. Coleman serves her community through teaching, and by mentoring young girls and women. One of her other passions is helping those affected by gun violence. Dr. Coleman supports a healthcare scholarship each year, sponsored by a foundation started by her family, for those affected by gun violence in Chicago.

She explained, “Each day, I am thankful for my family, peers, and employees who keep me motivated to continue to pursue service and excellence. Advanced education is something so worthwhile that I’ve invested my life in it.”

Dr. Coleman has several years of experience as a critical care nurse, and later became a nurse consultant for infection control at UI Health. She graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology and a minor in Chemistry. She received her Master’s in Nursing from DePaul University, where she is on the Executive Board for the Black Alumni Association. Dr. Coleman also serves on the EZ Taylor Scholarship Foundation, the Illinois Nurse Leader Association, and the All Nations COGIC boards. In 2012, Dr. Coleman received her Doctorate in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she focused on breast cancer research. She also volunteered at Susan G. Komen for the Cure and has been invited as a guest speaker for several other organizations. In 2015, Dr. Coleman received a Leadership Award from the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association and, in 2018, she received the Illinois Nurses’ Association Community Nurse Leader award. Dr. Coleman was also selected as the Vice President of UIC College of Nursing Alumni Board in January 2020. She is a certified Nurse Executive and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

March’s Nurse of the Month: Dr. Julie Duff

Julie Duff, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, CNE, is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at Resurrection University. Dr. Duff explained that she did not “choose” nursing; rather, nursing chose her! She said:

“The desire to be a nurse was just always there. I remember as a young child going to the library with my mom every few weeks and checking out the same two books about nurses. My mother must have gotten sick of reading and re-reading these books to me! Later as a high school student, I had the opportunity one Saturday morning to follow Dr. Loretta Ford (renowned nursing leader and co-founder of the first nurse practitioner program) on her rounds around Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. At the time, Dr. Ford served as founding Dean of the University of Rochester’s nursing school. She was a dynamic and impressive force who made a profoundly positive and long-lasting impact on me.”

Dr. Duff finds educating and empowering patients to live their best, healthiest lives, and developing relationships with her patients as a nurse practitioner to be the most fulfilling aspects of nursing. As a nurse educator at ResU and beyond, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, energy and enthusiasm for nursing with students. Dr. Duff said, “I love to teach students about how nursing offers so many fulfilling options for specialization and practice. One can never become bored in the nursing profession!”

For students pursuing a nursing career, she offers the following advice: “First, nursing school is hard and therefore it takes a lot of hard work to prepare to be a good nurse. The payoff, however, is incredibly rewarding. As nurses, we have the ability to make a meaningful and lasting impact on patients and families. Second, although students will learn a lot about different diseases and how to care for the sick in hospitals, nurses are needed in all types of settings and for many different reasons – most importantly, in my opinion, to teach people how to stay healthy and prevent disease.”

She believes anyone considering being a nurse must have intellect, empathy, and kindheartedness—in addition to critical thinking, the willingness to communicate and connect with people, and capability to show compassion. Dr. Duff also explained that these are traits that can be learned and developed with work, practice, and mentorship.

The personal accomplishment Dr. Duff is most proud of is earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at age 50, all while maintaining full-time employment at ResU and taking care of her family. As for the future, she hopes to continue to impact students with “energy and passion for the profession into my 70’s—through teaching, speaking, and writing.”

(Pictured above is, from left to right: Julie Duff in 1989 with a new mom, the nurse manager holding newborn, and her preceptor, Jane.)

“When I was in my final practicum as a senior nursing student at Georgetown University in 1989, I was assigned to work on Labor & Delivery with a fabulous RN preceptor, Jane. I worked alongside Jane to deliver intrapartum care to women and their families. One of the highlights for me, however, was one slow night shift when I had the opportunity to start my first IV…on Jane! She offered her own vein and (luckily) I was successful on the first stick. I keep a photograph of Jane and me pinned to my workstation bulletin board to this day.”

April’s Nurse of the Month: Dr. Maria F. Martinez

Maria Martinez, DNP, RN, always wanted to become a nurse to help and serve patients in the hospital and community settings. Science, health, compassionate care, and patient advocacy intrigued her and led her to the nursing profession. She explained, “Being an RN is my calling.”

Dr. Martinez finds helping patients during the most challenging and difficult moments with their health and lives to be the most fulfilling part of nursing. She said, “Patients want nurses who are not only knowledgeable and skilled with clinical tasks, but most importantly, patients want nurses who genuinely care about them and their families.” Some of the most fulfilling moments as an RN, Dr. Martinez believes, are when patients recover from illness, when she can comfort them in the face of apprehension, when she can advocate on their behalf, or when she is thanked for her work: “Genuine, compassionate, & professional care makes a difference for all patients, and this is most fulfilling to me.”

Dr. Martinez is also a nurse educator, and is an Assistant Professor in ResU’s College of Nursing. Of her role at ResU, Dr. Martinez stated:

“What I find most fulfilling as a nurse educator is sharing my nursing experiences with students in the best educational environment, which is Resurrection University. Teaching in the classroom, lab, and clinical settings are opportunities for our students to learn, grow, and prepare for the rigors of the nursing profession. When nursing students tell me, ‘Professor I want to make a difference in helping patients,’ I tell students to claim ownership of their education, study, and work hard to succeed in the nursing program.”

Dr. Martinez encourages nursing students and those hoping to pursue a career in healthcare to claim ownership of their education, study, and work hard, not only in the nursing program and for a degree, but for their future patients. She explained, “Continue to learn from the experts and maintain humility. We are all life-long learners.”

As nurses work on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Martinez mentioned that she is heartbroken to see how the disease has impacted healthcare professionals on previously unimagined levels. She shared,

“I strongly support my nursing colleagues who are fighting on the front line to save lives. More than ever, the nursing profession needs our support and political advocacy – advocacy for more hazmat personal protective equipment, increased and improved technologies for COVID-19 testing with accurate and immediate results, and research for medications and treatments to save lives and prevent massive outbreaks in the months and years to come. As community members, it is our ethical obligation and responsibility to abide by the government regulations to protect ourselves, our families, and everyone. COVID-19 is highly contagious, and should be taken seriously. I believe that businesses, unions, and manufacturers that carry hazmat PPE, medical equipment and supplies should share and donate. As for community members, it is our ethical obligation and responsibility to donate PPE supplies and equipment to our local hospitals. When we donate, whether equipment, supplies, or funds, we are demonstrating our support to the nursing profession and patients. Semi-retired or retired nurses and nursing students: If you feel compelled to serve and volunteer, look into becoming a Medical Corp member. Your presence to serve will make a difference in fighting this pandemic.”

For anyone considering a career in nursing, Dr. Martinez believes the qualities of an exceptional nurse include compassion, humility, authenticity, knowledge, willingness to work hard, passion for patient advocacy, resilience, tenacity, and willingness to be a life-long learner.

One of Dr. Martinez’s proudest accomplishments is earning and completing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. “I dedicate and share this degree to honor my Mother, my family, close friends, nursing colleagues, students, and patients,” she shared. One of her favorite personal memories, outside of nursing, is visiting Maui, Hawaii with her husband, Neil, in 2008. While there, Dr. Martinez went to the Haleakala volcano for a sunrise tour!

As for the future? Dr. Martinez plans to continue teaching at ResU and to work as a per diem legal nursing consultant for the incarcerated.

May’s Nurse of the Month: Brandon Hauer, MSN, RN

Brandon Hauer, MSN, RN, is an Instructor in Resurrection University’s College of Nursing and a registered nurse in the ICU at Thorek West Hospital on the north side of Chicago. 

Brandon says he’s always helped people in times of need, ever since he was a child. He knows the importance of offering a system of support to those in need, and claims, “Nobody embodies the term ‘support system’ more than a nurse. It was just a profession that called out to me. I like to say nursing chose me.”

He explained that anyone who enters a hospital is in need, and that nurses serve as caretakers, comforters, and communicators in treating these needs. Brandon explained, “We are the oil to the engine, and at the forefront of the patient cycle… There is nothing more rewarding.” This is a sentiment he carries into his role as a nurse educator at ResU. He said, “To be able to help train and mold the next generation of nurses and see them go from ‘novice’ to ‘service’ is something that I truly hold dear. You have to have a real passion for this role to succeed.”

Brandon encourages anyone who dreams of being a nurse to “stick with it.” He said, “It can be a tough journey, but also a very rewarding one. My biggest piece of advice for those who are pursing the nursing profession is that your challenges– and there will be challenges– set you up for success. Envision the type of nurse you want to be and work hard at making it happen: It will.” He also stated that one trait all nurses must have is patience– in the face of illness, crisis and care. 

In addition to this, the best nurses are those willing to make sacrifices for others, which has been made clear with the development of recent events. Brandon explained, “COVID-19 is definitely testing us… one of the good things that can come from this is showing the world truly what nurses and healthcare workers do each and every day.” He believes that current events offer an opportunity for prospective healthcare workers to evaluate whether they truly have a passion for nursing. 

One of Brandon’s proudest accomplishments is having the courage to be a nurse educator. He continued, “ I am encouraged by those I teach and work with and the level of dedication, skill and success they show every day. It has been a pivotal step in my career and life and one of the most rewarding.”

As for his future plans, Brandon says he’s “in this for the long run.” He hopes to continue furthering his career, and the careers of his students, through pursuing his doctorate degree.

“I’d be a liar if I didn’t say it [COVID-19] wasn’t one of the hardest things I’ve experienced… I have seen so many of my colleagues get sick from this and that is something I have never had to deal with before…

Nurses are the most important part of the patient cycle.

I truly believe we will get to the other side of this and there will be important lessons that will protect us in the future. Until then, Nurse On! and embrace those bruised faces from the constant masks! I want to thank all of the front-liners, from the first responders, to medical staff, to grocery workers, to delivery drivers to postal workers, and beyond. I personally want to thank my partner and close family and friends who have been my support system through this. Everyone is making a sacrifice right now. And that is why we will beat this.”

June’s Nurse of the Month: Suzan Ulrich, DrPH, MSN, MN, RN

Dr. Suzan Ulrich teaches in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) online program in the College of Nursing at ResU as an Associate Professor. She always wanted to be a nurse growing up and found watching nursing and health-related shows on TV inspiring. However, Suzan shared, “On my first day on the medical surgical unit as a student nurse, I fainted flat on my face.” She knew then that working in a unit treating illness was not her calling. Still, she continued along– and did not faint again– but her future remained unclear following this setback, until she started her clinical in maternity:

I was so happy when I started my clinical in maternity because mothers and babies are not sick. I knew this was where I belonged. I also wanted to be just like my maternity instructor. So, I started my nursing career in labor and delivery and soon after, obtained a master’s degree in maternity nursing so I could teach.”

Suzan explained that the most rewarding aspect of nursing is, “The holistic perspective of nurses and the commitment to a caring and compassionate relationship where the patient comes first… This is why nurses are the most trusted profession.”

Teaching the next generation of nurses and midwives is also rewarding for her because,

“It honors the nurses such as my maternity instructor who inspired me to be a maternity nurse and educator. It honors the midwives including the one who helped me through my first clinical rotation doing gynecologic exams– when I was terrified– with such patience. These educators supported my development and inspired me to want to do the same for other aspiring nurses and midwives. It is joyous to be present and be supporting a mother giving birth. There is nothing that matches the incredible moment of birth when a new person is welcomed into a family. I am humbled and blessed to have shared births with many families.”

For students preparing to be nurses, Suzan encouraged them to “listen to your gut” because nursing is both an art and a science, nursing school is rigorous, and there is no room for taking shortcuts. She also recommended, “Learn everything you can, because you hold the lives of patients in your hands.”

The accomplishment Suzan is most proud of is having her only daughter when she was 41 years old. She has also been the director of the North Shore Birth Center, a freestanding birth center in Beverly Massachusetts, for 10 years. Recently, the building was expanded, allowing for an increase in the number of births each year. Suzan stated, “The birth center was special to me because, as a student midwife, I did my final clinical rotation there with three incredible midwives who taught me to listen to women. I also learned that normal, uncomplicated births should not be happening in the hospital, but at home or in a birth center where the mother and family are in charge and children are present– where birth is not fearful, but glorious.” 

Suzan believes all nurses should be equipped with integrity, honesty, caring, compassion, and humility as they regard the needs of the most vulnerable: “Nurses should emulate our founding mother, Florence Nightingale, who was a change agent improving the treatment of patients. She was a statistician who kept detailed statistics to document outcomes. She was a rebel who fought the establishment so patients could receive the best care. She was politically active, advocating for policy changes including sanitation in England to improve public health. She was ethical and founded the nursing profession on ethical principles. She cared, carrying her lamp on the wards at night, talking and soothing patients, and writing letters home to their families for them.”

Looking toward the future, Suzan wants to continue training more midwives, especially midwives of color, so they can provide support and care to Black mothers, who are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from childbirth than white women. “This disparity is horrific in a country that spends more on maternity care than any other county in the world. Yet the USA is one of only eight countries in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate. Midwifery care and birth centers demonstrate better outcomes for both moms and babies and particularly for minority women who also have a higher burden of premature births, infant deaths, and maternal morbidity and mortality,” Suzan explained.

In her personal time, Suzan enjoys her 20 acre vineyard located in Ripley, New York, 60 miles west of Buffalo. She shared, “We grow concord grapes and I make amazing grape jam!”

Birth and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic is far from over. The pandemic highlighted the flaws in many of our systems. One major flaw is that healthy women give birth in the sick house (hospital) rather than at home, or in a birth center. Hospitals are for the sick, and women with high-risk pregnancies need this level of care. Women having normal births do not.


Women with low-risk pregnancies actually experience harm from all the interventions used routinely in hospitals just in case,as evidenced by a 30% Cesarean section rate and rising maternal mortality. Many women are seeking home births and birth center care because of COVID-19. They do not want to give birth in the ‘sick house.’ Midwives and birth centers are responding to this need. I hope this change will be a lasting one, where women and families are at the center of care and out-of-hospital birth becomes the norm for normal physiologic birth, which will improve maternal and infant outcomes as research has demonstrated.