Recipient Dr. Karen Ouzts explains why it is so important to continue to teach as a program director and curriculum developer.

February 2013— Dr. Karen Ouzts of the School of Nursing is one of two faculty members Walden University honored with the 2013 Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence. Dr. Ouzts received this award for her development of Walden’s nursing programs, specifically by cultivating coursework that allows registered nurses to gain the knowledge and skills needed to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, for her responsiveness to students, and her leadership among faculty.

Dr. Karen Ouzts

Dr. Ouzts knows the challenges students face firsthand. As a young nurse in the public health environment, she tackled everything from work-life balance to developing her own leadership skills. Eight years after she joined the University of Wyoming, she realized she needed to balance her work with additional on-site experience as a practitioner. As a state nursing supervisor for the Wyoming Department of Health, she “closed the loop,” she says. “I saw why you need a strong connection between academia and practice.”

Although Dr. Ouzts has varied her career between academia and practice, she’s currently focused on preparing the next generation of nursing leaders at Walden. She became the program director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Completion Program in 2010, specifically to put her experiences as a board-certified public health nurse to use in nursing education.

Dr. Ouzts’ goal is to improve students’ foci on population-based care and leadership. “I want to help nurses to become strong leaders in the healthcare system,” she says. “It fits well with Walden’s mission to effect positive social change. That’s exactly what we do; positive social change is one of our core values as nurses.”

Although her primary responsibility as a program director is to develop curriculum, she is also teaches courses to stay current with students’ needs and interests. Her work as a faculty member informs the curriculum she develops. “Walden has really helped me become a better educator by focusing on learning outcomes,” Dr. Ouzts says. “There’s no stray assignment.”

About the Award
The award is bestowed upon Walden faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the university. It recognizes their leadership and commitment to providing the highest-quality student experience as well as to upholding Walden’s mission of promoting positive social change.

Read more about the Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence and past recipients.

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