Nursing PhD student lauded for teaching prowess

Neil Peterson, GTA award 2013 (4-16-13) Long-time nurse Neil E. Peterson, PhD `14, knows how to make pathophysiology fun and presides over nursing labs with aplomb. It’s why he’s earned the School’s graduate teaching award again in 2013 and why he’s taken top prize in the all-University award in Math, Engineering and Nursing for 2013.

“Neil knows how to turn complex and dry concepts fun and translatable,” said Associate Dean‎ Janie Heath, one of Peterson’s nominators. “Not only were there rave reviews about his academic abilities, his overwhelming command of clinical practice is truly second-to-none. It didn’t take me long to determine why students adore him, and faculty seek him out.”

Nominated by Heath, Theresa Carroll, senior associate dean for student affairs, and Valentina Brashers, the Woodard Professor and director of interprofessional programming for nursing and medical students, Peterson calls teaching “awesome” – and his calling.

“In teaching what to do, I strive to always exemplify who to be,” says Peterson. “Like all other occupations, there is a science and an art to this profession – a doing and a being. I do not believe I have any ‘genius’ for teaching – but what I lack in talent, I hope to make up for in preparation, enthusiasm and cultivating a classroom or clinical setting where I demonstrate what to do and who to be.”

The awards, which are organized by U.Va.’s Teaching Resource Center, will be presented with a cash prize April 24 at a ceremony in the Rotunda.

Peterson, a part-time nurse practitioner at UVA Medical Center, enrolled in the School of Nursing’s BSN to PhD program and expects to earn his degree in 2014. He is a mentor for the nursing school’s peer scholars program, serves as a research assistant in the department of cardiovascular medicine, and is past-president of the Doctoral Nursing Student Organization. Past vice president of the Graduate Nursing Student Organization and the Student Nursing Association, Peterson earned his BS from Brigham Young University in 2007. He has taught a host of nursing courses for undergraduates and graduate students, including Client Assessment, Pathology and Clinical Management, Care of the Chronically Ill Adult and Intro to Nursing Research. While he has also studied vaccine hesitancy and cost efficient treatment options to common health problems among the uninsured, Peterson’s current research focuses on sedentary behavior and physical activity among adolescents.

He lives with his wife and two young children in Charlottesville, and grew up in Los Alamos, NM.

- by Christine Phelan Kueter

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