UConn School of Nursing’s Dr. Tiffany Kelley awarded the 2024 Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award

Dr. Tiffany Kelley PhD was awarded the 2024 Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award by The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN).

Dr. Kelley (center) at the 2024 American Association of Colleges of Nursing Award Ceremony.

The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) awarded Dr. Tiffany Kelley PhD, MBA, RN NI-BC FNAP the 2024 Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award. The AACN, considered the national voice for academic nursing, works to establish, and implement quality standards for nursing education. The AACN was established in 1969 and currently represents over 865 schools of nursing in universities nationwide.

The AACN Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award recognizes significant innovation and excellence in teaching and learning approaches in nursing education. The award is given to educators with five or more years of experience in a faculty position, holding a doctoral degree in nursing or related discipline, or a master’s degree in nursing. Award recipients have demonstrated success in acting as a role model for creating and sustaining a culture in nursing education.

Dr. Kelley was recognized for her strategic vision and achievement as a nursing leader integrating innovation theory and application content into the core curriculum of all nursing degree programs at the University of Connecticut, School of Nursing. Dr. Kelley was appointed as the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation Visiting Professor for Innovations and New Knowledge in 2018 and charged with completing this strategic initiative. Since her appointment Dr. Kelley’s has led numerous innovative initiatives for both undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to providing innovation lectures in all degree programs, she leads the Honors Innovation Thesis pathway that provides undergraduate students the option to pursue a nursing innovation idea for their honors thesis.

Dr. Kelley has developed, implemented, and serves as the director of the Healthcare Innovation Online Graduate Certificate Program that brings together healthcare professionals who share a common goal of developing innovative solutions to address complex patient care issues.  A seed grant opportunity created by Dr. Kelley provides support to Healthcare Innovation graduate students in their innovation development efforts. The annual Healthcare Innovation award recognizes notable students and faculty for these innovation efforts.

Most recently, Kelley was awarded a common curriculum grant to develop Introduction to Healthcare Innovation, a course for undergraduate students across the University to explore healthcare innovation early in their academic pursuits.

“The opportunities to create positive change in nursing and healthcare are quite vast and noted amongst the nursing profession and healthcare industry. Yet, nurses and healthcare professionals must be prepared on how to create impactful and sustainable change. The ability to create such change is done through formal education and experiential learning,” -Dr. Kelley.

Dr. Kelley goes on to say, “I want to create opportunities for students to be able to question the challenges they see in the day to day, and subsequently explore their ideas on what could be possible in the future. For myself, once I was able to see that I have the ability to create change for the better, I looked at the world in a different way. I want to be able to help students see this as well through these educational learning opportunities. The earlier this is learned in life; the more time is available to make a positive impact.”

In March 2024, Dr. Kelley was inducted into the National Academies of Practice (NAP) as a Distinguished Fellow in the Nursing Academy. The NAP was established in 1981, with the mission to advance interprofessional education, scholarship, research, practice, and public policy. Distinguished NAP fellows, nominated by their peers, demonstrate enduring contributions to their profession over at least 10 years. Dr. Kelley was recognized as a visionary who has ambitiously sought to advance nursing informatics and pioneer nursing and healthcare innovation through intra- and inter-disciplinary practice, research, teaching, and scholarship. Dr. Kelley’s aim to break the status quo in nursing led to her academic and entrepreneurial career trajectory. In addition to her academic role, Dr. Kelley is the founder and CEO of two healthcare technology companies, Nightingale Apps and iCare Nursing Solutions.

Dr. Kelley also serves as the Co-Director of the Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center with Co-Director Leila Daneshmandi PhD, Assistant Professor of the College of Engineering.  Dr. Kelley’s healthcare technology background aligns well with the mission of the Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center, established in 2023. The purpose of this partnership between the School of Nursing and the College of Engineering is to foster and advance healthcare, workforce, and economic development to promote the ideation, creation, and commercialization of new evidence-based technologies that can address clinical unmet needs for the betterment of healthcare quality. The Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center is focused on four core pillars: research, education, community engagement, and technology transfer.

Making up the largest group of healthcare professionals, registered nurses use, develop, test, evaluate, and purchase healthcare technologies to support daily care delivery. Engineers have the technical knowledge, skills, and abilities to actualize new technologies. The interdisciplinary collaboration between these two disciplines, especially if begun early in the innovation and invention process will lead to lasting benefits and impact on society.  Kelley and Daneshmandi have implemented several initiatives already, including the Nursing and Engineering Innovation Fellowship Program. In this program, undergraduate nursing and engineering students apply for a competitive one-year fellowship opportunity to work in teams to identify an unmet healthcare need and develop a healthcare technology prototype solution. The Nursing and Engineering Fellowship is currently funded by a Venture Well Courses and Program Grant awarded to Kelley (Principal Investigator) and Daneshmandi (Co-Investigator).

“To innovate is to bring forward positive change for others. I am fortunate to be in an environment at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing where innovation is valued and palpable amongst the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community. Generous philanthropic gifts, grant awards, and an overall supportive culture for innovation across the School and University at large have allowed us to continue to advance the nursing profession through our strategic educational efforts in preparing the next generation of nurses,” says Kelley.

“Dr. Kelley’s commitment to integrating innovation in teaching and learning approaches in nursing education has made significant contributions to the nursing profession”, says Dean Victoria Vaughan Dickson “we congratulate her on her recognition as a visionary leader by the AACN’s Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award and her induction as a Distinguished fellow in the National Academies of Practice.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Nursing and Engineering Innovation Center, please contact either tiffany.kelley@uconn.edu or leila.daneshmandi@uconn.edu.