Nancy Morris receives excellence award from American Nursing Association Massachusetts

Excellence in Nursing Education Award honors nurse educator for teaching, research and practice

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

March 07, 2018
  Nancy Morris, PhD, ANP

Nancy Morris, PhD, ANP

Graduate School of Nursing nurse educator Nancy Morris, PhD, ANP, is the recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Nursing Education Award from the American Nurses Association Massachusetts.

The award recognizes nurse educators who use innovative approaches to facilitate learning and professional development. ANA Massachusetts, a constituent member of the national American Nurses Association, is committed to the advancement of the profession of nursing and of quality patient care across the commonwealth. 

“I take pride in my teaching and want to do right by the students, so being recognized for success with that feels good,” said Dr. Morris, associate professor of nursing and medicine at UMass Medical School. “It’s also humbling because there are many outstanding nurse educators across the state, and it motivates me to want to excel further.”

Blending nursing practice, education and research has been a passion for Morris, who earned her bachelor’s in nursing at Salve Regina University, followed by her master’s and doctorate at Boston College. During years as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist, Morris expanded her interests in education and research while maintaining a clinical practice. She currently cares for geriatric primary care and the Diabetes Center of Excellence patients at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

“That greatly informs my teaching and my research and keeps me credible in the eyes of the students and current since I am still practicing much of the content I am teaching,” she said.

“I always have liked teaching and during my years as a nurse took on many teaching roles. Whether orienting new graduates, or doing in-service education on units, teaching has always been a part of my practice.

She taught a master’s program for 14 years at the University of Vermont before arriving at UMMS. Here, she teaches doctoral students and conducts research into improving health care quality and patient care, goals which drive scholarly nursing research.

Morris studies health literacy and its relationship to health and health care outcomes; health care communication; enhancing self-care of adults with chronic health conditions; and behavioral change to optimize health. “Health literacy is about communication, how people obtain and access information, comprehend and use it to make health related decisions, so it is central to patient education,” Morris explained.

She said she enjoys mentoring new faculty.

“I see the academic world as a very dynamic one, so I like to change things up and try different approaches,” she said. “Some work well, and you learn from others.”

She also works with the GSN’s new instructional technology designer on best practices for several courses that will go online this fall, and teaches a hybrid elective in health literacy.

“Nancy’s teaching abilities demonstrate tremendous range,” said nominator Carol Bova, PhD, professor of nursing and medicine, and director of the GSN’s PhD program. “She is a master teacher who creates a classroom environment that is consistent yet innovative, up to date and responsive to individual student needs.”

Morris received the GSN Dean’s Award in 2016 and GSN Distinguished Faculty Awards for the PhD program in 2013 and 2015. 

“Dr. Morris inspires her students to become nurse educators,” wrote her former student and dissertation advisee Edwin Aroke, PhD, now assistant professor of nursing at the University of Alabama. “She was very instrumental in my decision to accept a full-time faculty position.”

Morris will accept the Excellence in Nursing Education Award in April at the ANA Massachusetts annual conference. ANA Massachusetts is committed to the advancement of the profession of nursing and of quality patient care across the Massachusetts through advocacy, education, leadership and practice.

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