For Krystal Davis [pictured on left], preparing the next generation of nurses is a reward in itself. Now as a professor and recently appointed BSN program director of the Union College Nursing program, Davis has been recognized by the Nebraska Action Coalition with the 40 Under 40 award for 2018.
“Being recognized as a leader, not just at Union or even Lincoln, but in the entire state of Nebraska, is a tremendous honor, and a very humbling experience,” said Davis, who has taught full time at Union since 2014.
Union College’s nursing graduates posted a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam in 2018—the best in Nebraska. In fact, Union has posted the top scores in the state in three out of the last four years.
The 40 Under 40 award is a special acknowledgment of nurse leaders, all under the age of 40, who are the future of nursing, health, and healthcare in Nebraska. Dr. Nicole Orian, chair of the Division of Nursing, received the award in 2014, and nominated Davis in 2018. Nominees are judged by their contributions to the nursing profession in areas such as clinical practice, education and teaching, administration, research, writing and publishing, public policy, mentoring and healthcare innovation. Additionally, awardees are chosen based on their positive promotion of the nursing profession in their community.
The award is presented by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action initiative, founded with the goal of transforming healthcare to build a healthier America, as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AARP, and more than fifty other state action coalitions, which combined total more than three million members.
“I nominated Krystal for the 40 Under 40 award because she is truly a leader in the profession of nursing as evidenced by her expertise in clinical practice, excellence in nursing education, contribution to policy work in the Division of Nursing and college, involvement in community-wide and state-wide nursing organizations, and participation in community volunteerism,” Orian. “Her dedication to the growth and development of others, delicate balance of compassion and expectation for her students, and commitment to lifelong learning are wonderful strengths that she shares with our program.”
Through providing rigorous training with a personal touch, Davis and her fellow nursing professors see the results in their students not just through top NCLEX-RN scores, but in their careers as well. “After our nurses graduate, they return and verbalize what they enjoyed about their time in the program,” she explained. “They share their appreciation for how they were pushed outside their comfort zones and given the feedback to grow into the nurses they have become.”
Davis knows personal accolades are never the result of individual accomplishment. “I couldn’t have achieved any of this without the faculty who have molded me as a nurse and as an educator,” she explained.
Her own nursing journey began at Bryan College of Health and Sciences with a nursing diploma in 2006. She then worked at Bryan Health East Campus while earning BSN and MSN degrees from Nebraska Wesleyan University. As a graduate student, Davis met Union nursing faculty Elysia Ockenga and Kelly Boyd, who were also in the graduate program. The two encouraged her to teach clinicals at Union, and Davis became an adjunct professor at Union in 2012 before transitioning to a full-time faculty position in 2014.
In addition to leading Union’s nursing program, Davis is pursuing an Ed.D with an emphasis in nursing education at Bryan College of Health Sciences. She believes that God will continue to use her to guide a new generation of nurses at Union.
“He is there to rely on,” she said. “He will help me reach those who need me the most.”
About the Nebraska Action Coalition:
In response to the 2010 Institute of Medicine landmark study, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Nebraska Action Coalition, funded by the American Association of Retired Persons and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was formed to help transform leadership, embrace diversity, promote best practice, and provide quality health care. The Nebraska Action Coalition is partnered with 50 other organizations in our nation, working together to change health care. The Action Coalition’s initiative seeks to communicate the value of nursing leadership and offer support and recognition to nurses taking on leadership positions and to ensure that nurses have a voice at the decision-making table regarding the future of healthcare.
by Stephanie Leeper, Union graduate and freelance writer