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Celebrated leader in nursing to speak at UMFK commencement

April 13, 2015

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Noted educator of nurses, national health leader, and recipient of the Florence Nightingale Award, Susan Hassmiller, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, will be the keynote speaker at the University of Maine at Fort Kent's 133rd Commencement on Saturday, May 9, 2015 in the UMFK Sports Center.

Hassmiller will receive an honorary doctorate degree which the UMFK president, faculty, and trustees of the University of Maine System will confer.

Let's just step back and look at the numbers. There are about three million nurses in the United States today, meaning there is approximately one nurse for every ten people in our country. Over the course of the past 105 years since the Red Cross established the Florence Nightingale Award, just over 1,400 nurses and nursing aides have received the honor out of all the nurses that have cared for people on this planet since 1910.

Of those three million nurses currently in the USA, only three received the Florence Nightingale Award in 2009. As one of the nurses to receive the award that year, Susan B. Hassmiller is figuratively and literally one in a million.

Susan Hassmiller earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Florida State University. She went on to receive two master's degrees, one in health education from Florida State University, and the other in community health nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She earned a Ph.D. in nursing administration and health policy from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Hassmiller is a member of the Institute of Medicine, a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, a member of the Joint Commission's National Nurse Advisory Council, Meridian Health System Board of Directors, the Health Resources and Services Administration National Advisory Committee for Nurse Education and Practice, and the CMS National Nurse Steering Committee.

Dr. Hassmiller, who joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 1997, is presently the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior adviser for nursing. In this role, she shapes and leads the Foundation's nursing strategies in an effort to create a higher quality of care in the United States for people, families and communities. Drawn to the Foundation's "organizational advocacy for the less fortunate and underserved," Hassmiller is helping to assure that RWJF's commitments in nursing have a broad and lasting national impact.

In partnership with AARP, Hassmiller directs the Foundation's Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, which seeks to ensure that everyone in America can live a healthier life, supported by a system in which nurses are essential partners in providing care and promoting health. This 50-state and District of Columbia effort strives to implement the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine's report on the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Hassmiller served as the report's study director. She is also serving as co-director of the Future of Nursing Scholars program, an initiative that provides scholarships, mentoring and leadership development activities and postdoctoral research funding to build the leadership capacity of nurse educators and researchers.

Hassmiller, who involved herself with the Red Cross in many capacities, was a member of the National Board of Governors for the American Red Cross, serving as chair of the Disaster and Chapter Services Committee and national chair of the 9/11 Recovery Program. She is currently a member of the National Nursing Committee, and is serving as immediate past board chair for the Central New Jersey Red Cross. She has contributed to Red Cross disaster relief efforts in the United States and abroad, including tornadoes in the Midwest, Hurricane Andrew, September 11th, the 2004 Florida hurricanes and Katrina, and the tsunami in Indonesia.

A spokesperson for the University of Maine at Fort Kent said Hassmiller's presence at commencement is an honor. In this time where the health needs of the nation and the world have never been greater, Hassmiller has striven to prepare women and men to aspire to the vibrant calling of nursing.