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Innovative teaching. Encouraging demeanor. A passion for the subject. Contagious enthusiasm. All of these traits help inspire students to great ideas. Here are two faculty members from the College of Nursing whose teaching, research, and community service are both inspired and inspiring.

Nan Gaylord

If you ask Nan Gaylord what our nation’s most valuable resource is, she won’t answer with water, oil, or natural gas. She’ll tell you, it is our children.

“If children are not well cared for, our next generation will be troubled,” said Gaylord, an associate professor of nursing.

It was this strong belief that led Gaylord to pursue a career in pediatric nursing.

Gaylord is founder of the Vine School Health Center, a school-based health care clinic that serves students in Knox County who have limited access to health care.

“My research and work are dedicated to the access to health care for children, which will hopefully allow for the consideration of alternative delivery sites for care, alternative providers of care, and reimbursement of the care provided in these sites,” she said.

Gaylord has expanded the reach of the Vine School Health Center by using telehealth technologies. Telehealth is the use of digital technologies to deliver medical care, health education, and public health services by connecting multiple users in separate locations.

“Dr. Gaylord is an inspiration to her students, colleagues, and the patients that she serves,” said Dean Vickie Niederhauser. “As the founder and director for the Vine School Health Center, Dr. Gaylord has created a national model for care of children in community-based settings.”

Gaylord inspires many people with her passionate advocacy for children on both the local and national levels.

“Dr. Gaylord is the epitome of a nursing educator and children’s advocate,” said Alicia Alexander-Helms, a former student and now Vine Health Center colleague. “She is a great leader and an empowered woman. She serves her students and community in a tireless manner.”

Gaylord hopes this excitement is contagious and that the next generation of advanced practice nurses she mentors will enjoy their professional life as much as she does.

“I hope I inspire my students to think outside our nursing box, to think about what is possible and what is best for our little patients, and then plan accordingly to see that possibility actualized,” she said.

Peggy Pierce

The aging baby boomer population, coupled with changes in health care, has significantly increased the critical need for advanced practice nurses.

Peggy Pierce, assistant professor of nursing, is tackling this national problem one student at a time. As chair of the College of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, she helps students become clinical practice leaders and educators.

“Our students come from many different backgrounds and experiences,” she said. “They work, they have families, but they are trying to accomplish this grand goal. We want to help them move toward this goal in a way that works for them while also meeting our high program standards.”

Ben Barbour, a graduate student in nursing, said Pierce inspires him to approach all of life’s problems from multiple angles.

“Dr. Pierce encourages her students to find creative solutions to complex problems, and base their decisions on sound evidence,” he said. “She inspires students to treat all patients in a holistic manner, and she has expanded my knowledge of complementary and alternative medical therapies.”

Pierce is making UT history by leading the first interprofessional team-based education program between nursing, industrial engineering, medical, and pharmacy students. This spring, a group of students from the different disciplines began learning together using telehealth technology in the delivery of patient care at clinics around Knox County. This way of learning gives students real-world clinical experience, which studies show improves patient results.

“The future of healthcare reform will depend on cohesive teamwork to provide safe, efficient, and effective patient-centered care models,” said Dean Vickie Niederhauser. “Dr. Pierce’s leadership in this interprofessional endeavor is an inspiration to all the students.”

When Pierce isn’t teaching students in a classroom or clinic, you can find her teaching an early morning outdoor “bootcamp” fitness class.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5034,