Alumni News

Alumni of The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at PDF (EJS-VNF) are making an impact on Parkinson's research and care around the country.

See Our Recent E-Newsletters

July 2016

June 2016

January 2016

October 2015

May 2015

February 2015

October 2014

Meet Our Annual Awardees

Each year, the program selects an alumna or alumnus of the program to receive an award for outstanding achievement in improving the lives of those living with Parkinson’s disease or for leadership and innovation in nursing education leading to improved care for those with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners.

Laura Kelly, Ph.D., R.N., A.N.P.-C., and Cheryl Leiningen, D.N.P., R.N., A.N.P.-C., 2016 Co-Awardees

Dr. Kelly is Associate Professor and Program Director at Columbia University School of Nursing and Dr. Leiningen is Assistant Professor at Monmouth University School of Nursing & Health Studies. Both maintain clinical nursing practices.

After completing their training with the EJS-VNF Program at PDF in 2015, Drs. Kelly and Leiningen developed a 15-week interactive educational activity “Meet Val and Holly: An experiential tour through the lives of a PD family,” for their nursing curriculums, which they recently presented at the 4th World Parkinson Congress in Portland. It walks nursing students through the journey of a person with Parkinson’s and care partner as they cope with a new diagnosis. Throughout the semester-long activity, as students read the journal of “Val and Holly” and submit assignments, they are introduced to the complexities of Parkinson’s — motor and nonmotor symptoms, medication management, nutrition, home safety, care partner stress, adaptive equipment and resources — and the role that nurses can play in helping people to cope and live well.

The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation congratulate and thanks Drs. Kelly and Leiningen for their work as it relates to nursing education to improve care in Parkinson’s.


Geralyn Altmiller, Ed.D., A.P.R.N., A.C.N.S.-B.C., 2015 Awardee

Dr. Altmiller is Associate Professor at the College of New Jersey and a clinical specialist at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She is an exceptional teacher, having been recognized for her excellence in nursing education with the 2014 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching

Dr. Altmiller has rapidly integrated her “VNF” experience into her career in nursing and nursing education, and has had an impact on the field by through the development of tools she is sharing with fellow nursing educators across the US.

After her training with VNF, Dr. Altmiller developed and published a case study entitled, “Unfolding Case Study: Applying the QSEN Competencies to the Care of Patients with Parkinson’s  Disease," on QSEN, a website highly utilized by nursing faculty around the country. Her case study addresses patient safety in Parkinson's disease. She also presented the case study on PD at the annual meeting of QSEN in San Diego, CA, in May 2015. It is now available as a free tool for nursing educators around the US. In a very short time, it has had far reaching impact, with nursing professors from around the US using her case study to teach their students about safe care in Parkinson's disease.

In addition to Dr. Altmiller’s QSEN work, she has published about quality and safety in graduate and undergraduate nursing education and spoken nationally at other conferences on this topic.  Her research has been focused on communication challenges in delivering health care and also on challenges of incivility in the educational and clinical arenas which have negative effects on patient safety.  The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation congratulate and thanks Geralyn for her work on the behalf of nursing education and Parkinson’s disease patient “safe” care.


Alan PrettymanAllen V. Prettyman, Ph.D., F.N.P.-B.C., 2014 Awardee

Dr. Prettyman is the Director of the Nurse Managed Health Center and Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware.

He co-directs the university’s Parkinson’s Clinic with 2010 awardee Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff. Dr. Prettyman attended the program at Johns Hopkins University in 2013. He has a broad background in nursing, with specific education and expertise in preventive healthcare. In March 2014, he led the opening of the Parkinson’s Disease Telehealth Clinic in Newark, DE, which he designed along with Ingrid Pretzer Aboff (2010 Awardee) and colleagues to serve patients in a geographical area without easy access to PD experts. Patients are able to tele-communicate with internationally known PD neurologists. This innovative clinic demonstrates that with strong leadership and vision that clinical services, academic mission and research outcomes can be combined into an integrated and effective model of healthcare. Dr. Prettyman is proud that in the first six months of the clinic, he was able to provide an immersive educational platform focused on PD for three graduate nursing students and 11 undergraduate students. This is truly just the beginning, as he plans to expand the PD immersion for graduate and undergraduate students in the near future.

Joanna Rowe, Ph.D., M.S., B.S.N., 2013 Awardee

Ms. Rowe has been a nursing educator since 1989. Most recently, her teaching focus has been on chronic illness, family nursing, simulation and curriculum development. She consults across the country on learning theory in nursing education, simulation design and curriculum, and has won teaching and scholarships awards at the University of Portland. Recently she was appointed a full professor by Linfield College - Good Samaritan School of Nursing where hired to help implement a competency-based curriculum.

Ms. Rowe was chosen as the 2013 VNF Alumni Awardee in appreciation of her work as the editor on the leading nursing textbook on family nursing in the US that is used in approximately 110 schools of nursing. Her project for The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program was to include a chapter on Parkinson’s disease in the context of families dealing with chronic illness. This effort to enhance nursing education on Parkinson’s disease has the potential to reach thousands of nursing students in the US and Canada.

Johanna Romero deSlavy, R.N., M.S.N., C.R.R.N., B.C., 2012 Awardee

Johanna Romero deSlavy participated in The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Program at PDF at Johns Hopkins University in 2011.  Mentored by Margaret McCormick (our 2011 Awardee), she took the PD simulation laboratory experience outside the university and into the hospital setting, educating newly hired nurses on Parkinson's disease care.  She is helping to meet the needs of Parkinson's patients in the acute care setting.  She is co-author with Ms. McCormick on "Teaching with Technology: Improving critical thinking through the use of a simulated unfolding case study in Parkinson's Disease," in the Journal of Neuroscience Nurses in February 2013.

Margaret McCormick, M.S., R.N., 2011 Awardee

Ms. McCormick was selected for the second Alumni Award in 2011. She participated in the program at The Johns Hopkins University in 2010. An excellent nursing educator at Towson University in Maryland, she developed “Teaching with Technology: Improving Critical Thinking Through the Use of a Simulated Unfolding Case Study on Parkinson’s Disease.” Recognizing the power of simulation labs in nursing education, her project is a model for nursing student education on PD and will be replicated in many universities. Her unfolding case study follows a patient from early diagnosis to the middle stages of PD, and then on to the advanced care needed for those with PD. She integrates family involvement and the role of caregivers by having some of the students “role-play” the parts, while others are nurses and the voice of the patient. Ms. McCormick presented her work at the 2nd World Parkinson Congress in Scotland, 2010. More recently, she completed an article with co-author Rebecca Dunlop, B.S.N., R.N., host site coordinator for the program at Johns Hopkins University, entitled "Placebo surgery in clinical trials research for Parkinson's Disease," which is now in press.

Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff, Ph.D., M.A., R.N., 2010 Awardee

Dr. Pretzer-Aboff was selected for the first Alumni Award in 2010. She participated in the pilot program in 2009. She continues to be actively involved in improving the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease through her research in a home exercise program for Parkinson’s disease which incorporates supportive telephone care and home visits. Additionally, she established a group exercise program for those with Parkinson’s disease, assisted with a PD support group, assisted with establishing an alliance of PD support groups and presented a poster on PD at the 2nd World Parkinson Congress in Scotland, 2010. Never to tire, she also visited her state Senator and advocated for the hiring of a movement disorder trained physician for the state of Delaware which previous to her involvement had none.  

Most recently, Dr. Pretzer-Aboff has been the driving force behind the first nurse managed Parkinson's disease telehealth clinic at the University of Delaware, which opened in March 2014.  Her current research is a collaborative study with the Department of Engineering at the University of Delaware to evaluate the effect of step synchronized vibration on people living with Parkinson's disease.