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SCHEV Honors Dr. Carolyn Rutledge

February 18, 2014

On Thursday, Dr. Carolyn Rutledge will be honored by Gov. Terry McAuliffe as Old Dominion University's 27th faculty member to be recognized for excellence in teaching, research and service with the Commonwealth of Virginia's highest such honor, the SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award.

Like the professors before her, Dr. Rutledge exemplifies the university's commitment to engaging teaching, cutting-edge research, and an entrepreneurial and collaborative approach to problem-solving to make a positive impact on our students and in the community.

Dr. Rutledge is an associate professor of nursing and director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. For 25 years, she has actively provided education, research and service in health care with a focus on improving care to the underserved and disadvantaged populations in Virginia. At Old Dominion, she has developed programs that focus on cultural diversity, emerging health care technology, inter-professional education, simulated patient experiences and distance learning, while actively pursuing and obtaining grant funding to provide disadvantaged students with the means to pursue educational opportunities.

Dr. Rutledge's approach represents a major paradigm shift in providing healthcare. She believes that it is time for nurses, especially advanced practice nurses such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists, to step forward and become change agents within the healthcare system. One of the biggest obstacles, she notes, is empowering the DNP students to step out of existing models and maximize their talents, skills, and visions. She has been diligent in helping each of her students identify their individual strengths and develop practice models that would challenge the status quo.

As one student stated, "Dr. Rutledge is a phenomenal instructor. She is extremely invested in my success. Her dedication to the program is evident in every area and she has given me incentive to give 100% to every effort. She is motivating and encouraging and I feel I have grown extensively as a result of her guidance and support."

Among her successes at Old Dominion is the creation of the DNP distance learning program. Dr. Rutledge realized the dire need for healthcare professionals in rural areas. By educating these future professionals through a web-based program in their rural home regions, she notes, they would be more likely to stay and practice. The program has resulted in more than 50% of the graduates working in rural, Medical Underserved Areas (MUAs), or Healthcare Provider Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Twelve DNP graduates have opened their own practices and have hired physicians to support them at a distance. They have sought ways to make their "new models of care" affordable.

Old Dominion University's mission is to serve its students and enrich the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world through rigorous academic programs, strategic partnerships, and active civic engagement. I can think of no better example than Dr. Carolyn Rutledge, and the committee to award the state's premier higher education award agrees.

Congratulations Dr. Rutledge and my sincerest gratitude to you and all Old Dominion outstanding faculty!

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