In the Year of the Nurse, USD Nursing School Recognizes Dr. Patricia Roth at Rodgers Lectureship

In the Year of the Nurse, USD Nursing School Recognizes Dr. Patricia Roth at Rodgers Lectureship

At a time when the World Health Organization proclaims that the year 2020 is a celebration of the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in recognition of the contributions they make and the risks associated with nursing shortages, it was quite appropriate and timely for a Feb. 20, 2020 event hosted by the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science.

The University of San Diego’s graduate school of nursing held its once-every-two-years lectureship named in honor of its dean from 1987-2002, Janet A. Rodgers, in the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre last week.


Aptly titled, "Honoring Our Past, Embracing Our Future," the evening focused on appreciation for a retired pioneer faculty member, Dr. Patricia Roth, and heard from six University of San Diego nursing alumni who are a by-product of Dr. Roth's — and other faculty members’ — expert instruction. Each panel member, including three who earned doctoral degrees just last spring, serves in valuable nursing leadership and educational roles locally and across the nation.

Magnitude of a "Miracle": USD’s Nursing School

Nursing Dean and Professor Jane Georges, PhD, opened by sharing some thoughts about having a graduate school of nursing at USD since 1974. At the time, she stated, doing so was “a risk.” San Diego’s school was, at the time, only the second graduate nursing program in California — San Francisco had the other — but the inaugural leadership of Dean Irene Palmer and faculty leaders such as Dr. Roth and others provided a stable foundation and the potential for growth of the nursing field.

“A graduate school of nursing is a form of cultural critique that dares to assert that nursing has a right to be a full partner at the intellectual table of American universities,” Georges said. “It's also a risk to believe that healthcare equity is possible in the United States and that nurses can heed that need with the leadership of doctoral-prepared nurses. But I also think a graduate school of nursing is a miracle. By miracle I don't in particular mean spiritual or religious, but something outside the established order. It's the power that we, as nurses, as a group, have to call those things into being which remain yet unseen. Ever since Ms. (Florence) Nightingale (whose 200th birthday is in 2020), nurses have been working miracles on a daily basis. They don't always happen exactly the way we might envision, but they do happen, over and over, through hard work and persistence. Together, as nurses, we call things into being and in time, they appear.”

It wasn’t easy, Georges said, but what Palmer, Roth and her faculty colleagues “called into being is now a reality. Dr. Roth played a major role in making that miracle happen. There were more miracles of nursing growth and nursing as a profession in San Diego, miracles of people who never would have had access to graduate education and are now our thought leaders, miracles of the largest healthcare organizations in San Diego and they are her former students. The debt that all of us as nurses owe to Dr. Roth can never be repaid in full, but my hope this evening is to bring some joy and a few tears, for a remarkable colleague who has given us all the experience of a miracle.”

Dr. Roth, welcomed to the KIPJ Theatre by thank-you messages from alumni students on the stage screens and a standing ovation from the theater audience, was quick to share the credit with colleagues who were in attendance — two such treasured faculty colleagues sitting in the front row were Evelyn Anderson and Rosemary Goodyear — and having alumni and a host of friends and acquaintances present.

Dr. Patricia Roth’s Impact, Scholarship Announced

Dr. Roth, who arrived at USD in 1980, taught undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs at USD through the years with an emphasis on aging families in transition, bioethics and palliative care. Her research focus was on aging families experiencing chronic illness, loss or end-of-life. The last 15 years she served as program director for USD’s PhD nursing program.

She secured more than $6 million in HRSA-funded program grants to prepare nurse educators for their futures. She obtained funding through the Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholars program, establishing a partnership with Sharp Health to develop nurse scholars. Roth facilitated the development of the Kaye M. Woltman and Melisa R. McGuire Hospice and Palliative Care Research and Education Unit at USD's Beyster Institute for Nursing Research. The unit supports faculty and student research and community education programs.

In addition to her roles at USD, Dr. Roth has served as a member of the Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Committee of the Glenner Family Centers, the Internal Review Board of San Diego Hospice, the Ethics Committee of Sharp Memorial Hospital and on the Community Advisory Board of the Veteran's Administration Geriatric Psychiatry Department.

Dean Georges, who at the end of the program announced the establishment of the Patricia A. Roth PhD in Nursing Scholarship, stated, “Dr. Roth is the heart and soul of the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science. Her contributions to San Diego nursing during the past four decades have been immeasurable. We’ll miss her very much, but we’re so grateful for her service to USD.”

Alumni Panelists

A group of experienced educators, former students, and each fulfilling important roles as nurses, shared the stage, giving talks on topics such as research education, clinical education, health care systems, and advancing the profession.

The alumni present were: Ann Mayo, DNSc, RN, FAAN, is a current teacher in USD Nursing's PhD program whose area of expertise is behavioral neurology. Her clinical program of research includes the study of functional status of older persons with cognitive impairment. Her USD degrees are the Doctoral degree in Nursing Science and MSN; Sue Hoyt, PhD, FNP-BC, ENC-C, FAAN, FAEN, FAANP, is the current director of USD Nursing's Nurse Practitioner/Emergency Nurse Practitioners program. She was USD's inaugural MEPN program director. Her research focus is emergency care, trauma systems, nurse practitioner clinical decision-making, nurse practitioner certification, competencies and standards, and leadership in health care. Her USD degree is a PhD; Laurie Ecoff, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, CNL, is currently the vice president of the Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute for Nursing Excellence at Sharp Healthcare. A 2019 USD Alumni Honors recipient, Ecoff is president-elect for the Association of California Nurse Leaders and she is a clinical professor for USD Nursing's Clinical Nursing and Executive Nurse Leader programs. She obtained two nursing degrees at USD, her BSN and PhD; Lynell Lemon, PhD, RN, PHN, flew in from Cincinnati to attend the Feb. 20 event. An MSN '14, PhD '19 double alumna, Lemon is now director of professional education for On Target Laboratories, a medical device company founded at Purdue University. She participates in interdisciplinary research and instructs thoracic surgeons on the use of emerging fluorophore tracers in interoperative imaging; Michael Baumgardner, PhD, RN is a nurse manager with the Sharp HealthCare system. He came to nursing after being a Catholic priest in the Diocese of San Diego. While working as a spiritual counselor at San Diego Hospice and the Institute of Palliative Care, he developed a passion for end-of-life care. He enrolled in USD's MEPN program and went on to complete his PhD, exploring spiritual well-being in family caregivers of persons with dementia on palliative care for his dissertation; and Ricky Padilla, PhD, RN, CCRN is an assistant clinical professor for USD's MEPN program and works for the UCSD Health System as a clinical nurse educator. His expertise is in critical care, specifically identification and management of clinical deterioration, resuscitation and rapid response teams. His USD nursing degrees are in the MSN ENL program and the PhD program.

Roth praised the value of the doctoral degree program, its research component, and one could see on her face the pride she has for everyone she’s taught, worked with, alumni, including those who were on the stage last week, who have thrived in their post-graduation roles. She enjoyed seeing colleagues and catching up with people from all facets of her time at USD.

“One thing this school does is create relationships that last throughout your life, whether it’s faculty members, students, all of these amazing people always come back into your life when you need them the most. I’m so grateful for all of them,” Roth said. “Thank you.”

— Ryan T. Blystone


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