Teaching future nurses to value life-long learning

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“When my students graduate I am as proud of them as I am of my own children,” says Krista Jones. Photo: Mark Mershon/College of Nursing

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

“I want my students to commit themselves to life-long learning,” Krista Jones says. “I want to nurture their creativity and confidence.”

As the College of Nursing’s Population-Focused Nursing Course coordinator, Jones teaches both undergraduate and graduate students.

Her dedication to underserved and marginalized populations has led to a wide range of clinical placements for her students.

She encourages her students to ask, “What is the whole story?” when they work with patients.

They’ve developed community-based projects to teach child care providers about poison control, family fitness programs to fight obesity, and educational modules for the Women, Infants and Children food assistance program.

Working with undergraduate public health nursing students in the Champaign District Health Department, Jones started a Facebook project to educate 15- to 24-year-olds about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of the sexually transmitted infection chlamydia.

The project received the Illinois Department of Public Health Award of Merit.

This is the second Silver Circle for Jones, clinical instructor of health systems science in the College of Nursing at Urbana-Champaign. An Illinois Board of Higher Education nursing fellow, she is president of the Champaign County Board of Health and Midwest director of the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators.

But she didn’t become a nursing instructor to receive awards, she says. “Some of the proudest moments of my professional career have come from watching my students grow as individuals and professionals,” she says.

“When my students graduate I am as proud of them as I am of my own children. Nursing truly is a great profession and I’m glad to be part of it.”

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