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CSM Nursing Faculty Sara Cano and Robin Madera Earn More Than $100K to Support Research, Prepare Next Corps of Nurses

February 5, 2022

CSM Nursing Faculty Sara Cano and Robin Madera Earn More Than $100K to Support Research, Prepare Next Corps of Nurses

Two College of Southern Maryland (CSM) nursing faculty recently earned crucial support from the Maryland Nurse Support Program (NSP) that will help them, and CSM, better prepare CSM students to meet any challenge. CSM Associate Professor of Nursing Robin Madera and Acting Chair of Nursing Sara Cano each received a Nurse Educator Doctoral Grant (NEDG) given to nursing faculty members at Maryland higher education institutions who are engaged in, or recently completed, a dissertation or capstone project. The $100,000 award will help bolster both professors with their research and teaching.

Cano also received a Nurse Faculty Annual Recognition (NFAR) award, which is given to a nursing faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching, engages in the life of the nursing program and college or university, and contributes to the profession as a nurse educator. 

“CSM is fortunate to have exemplary faculty leadership guiding the nursing program,” said CSM Dean of the School of Science and Health Laura Polk. “The past two years have been hard on the nursing profession, but the next generation of nurses are being well-prepared to succeed in this challenging time due to the strong nursing faculty support and instruction the program provides. These awards are an important recognition of the valuable work in which our faculty are engaged.” 

COVID-19 has shined the spotlight on the medical industry’s struggles to balance patient care and advocacy with their employees' burnout and turnover created by the pandemic. It is a conundrum that college faculty from across the nation are researching and evaluating so they can better prepare the next corps of compassionate nurses and health care providers entering the bustling workforce to answer the call.

“We can teach students hard skills, but we also need to work on the emotional preparation for nursing,” said Madera. “It is a physically, emotionally, and intellectually demanding job, and the pandemic has really emphasized the need for this kind of training.” 

The state of Maryland recognizes the need for an increase in highly educated nurses and an improved education system to address the nursing shortage that the state expects in the coming years, according to the state’s Department of Health webpage. The pandemic brought the need for skilled staff into sharp focus. One goal of the NSP is to increase the number of nurses with doctorates, who are needed to teach future generations of nurses and to conduct research that will become the basis for improvements in nursing science and practice. While 13 percent of nurses hold a graduate degree, less than one percent have a doctoral degree. robin-medara.jpeg

Madera, pictured right, will receive $60,000 through the program, which she will put toward the cost of obtaining her Ph.D. in nursing education from Capella University. Her research will examine emotional challenges of nursing and how students use self-awareness in clinical rotations. 

Madera said that she is particularly proud to be completing her doctorate while teaching at CSM, because she is a CSM alumna who received her associate degree from the college in nursing in 2002.  

“I am an example of lifelong learning in action here at CSM,” she said. 

Cano will receive a $45,000 NEDG grant that will help her cover the costs of her Ph.D. in Nursing Philosophy from the University of Phoenix, which she received in 2018. Her research focused on the role of faculty/student relationships in nursing student success. 

“When I looked at the research, the personal relationship was embedded in many different factors that affect success, but never studied by itself,” she said. “It turns out that it’s very important that a student feels comfortable coming to talk to the faculty about everyday things that affect student success.” 

She said she sees the caring, supportive relationships she has with her students as serving as a model for the relationships her students will later have with patients. “If we are about the business of caring, that shouldn’t just happen in the hospital, but for everyone we encounter.” 

“Consistent with the college's vision, CSM’s nursing program strives to be the region's first choice for accessible, inclusive, and innovative nursing education,” Cano shared a few months ago during a media interview. “Our nursing program is dedicated to decreasing healthcare disparities through the development of a strong, diverse nursing workforce and we are proud of the diversity in our nursing program which is consistent with the demographics of the Southern Maryland area and exceeds national data regarding the nursing workforce*.” 

sara-cano1.jpgThat supportive mindset was part of what led to Cano’s selection for the NFAR award. In a letter of support for her nomination, Polk said Cano “has worked tirelessly to support nursing program faculty and students through the unstable environment of the pandemic.”  Polk emphasized leadership roles Cano, pictured left, has taken on campus, including acting chair of nursing, spearheading a curriculum transition in the department, and mentoring faculty. The award comes with $10,000 in funds, which Cano plans to use to pursue additional certifications in her field. 

Listen below to hear this year's class student speaker, and now CSM Nursing Alumna Aniyah Gabriel thank Cano, and several members of the CSM nursing faculty, for growing her "as a person and as a caring patient advocate" during the Jan. 14, 2022 Winter Commencement Ceremony.


*According to a 2017 National Nursing Workforce Study conducted by the National Council State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), 19.2% of Registered Nurses (RN) are from minority backgrounds. At the time of the study, the RN population was comprised of 80.8% White/Caucasian, 6.2% African American 7.5% Asian, 5.3% Hispanic, 1.7% two or more races, 0.4% American Indian/Alaskan Native, 0.5% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 2.9% other nurses.  

“CSM’s nursing program is a competitive admission’s program of which the top 72 applicants are admitted each semester,” according to Cano. “Of those CSM students, almost 40% are from minority backgrounds. Current nursing student population data indicate 59.5% White/Caucasian, 13.5% African American, 8.1% Asian, 10.8% Hispanic, 6.8% two or more races, 0% American Indian/Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 1.4% unknown.” 

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