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Contributing Authors, 2nd Edition

Larissa Marquez Africa, MBA, BSN, RN

Larissa Africa is President of Versant Holdings, LLC. Her experience began as a new graduate nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in their first RN Internship Program in 1999. Africa was a key stakeholder in transitioning a department-based internship program capability to what is now known as the Versant, an organization that provides an outcomes-based transition to practice residencies and fellowships at healthcare organizations nationwide. Africa has published articles related to the economic benefit of transition to practice programs and the benefits of using a competency-based system for nursing students’ capstone program. Africa has also served as the executive leader in the development and implementation of Versant’s Transition Nurse Fellowship and Versant’s Home Health Residency and Fellowship.

Cherilyn Ashlock, DNP, RN, NE-BC

Cherilyn Ashlock is the Director of Professional Practice at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. Prior to coming to this role, Ashlock worked with Versant RN Residencies to support implementation of a clinical transition to practice program for new graduate registered nurses. In her current role as director for professional practice, Ashlock oversees clinical and unit-based onboarding, development and education, nursing research, and nursing quality outcomes. Under her leadership, Johns Hopkins All Children’s continues to develop their transition to practice programs, as well as build upon the preceptor role for nursing and patient care services. Ashlock completed her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in executive leadership at Old Dominion University in 2017 and focused her capstone work on interventions to prevent missed nursing care in the pediatric acute care environment.

Cindy Bianchini, MSN, RN, CNOR

Cindy Bianchini is the Director of the RN Residency program at Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon. She received her master’s degree in nursing in 2016 with a focus on executive administration and leadership from the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Bianchini’s background is in operating room nursing, and she spent 5 years as a system-wide surgical services educator helping to onboard new employees

as well as facilitate ongoing professional development. Bianchini developed the current RN Residency program in 2015 when Legacy Health decided to bring the program internal. Bianchini led the building and development of Legacy’s current residency program including specialty competencies, the mentor program, the curriculum, selecting and guiding subject matter experts, and preceptor development and support, with a focus on continuous quality improvement.

Carol A. Bradley, MSN, RN, CENP


Carol Bradley is the Senior Vice President and System Chief Nursing Officer for the Legacy Health System, an eight-hospital integrated healthcare delivery system serving Portland, Oregon, and southwest Washington. Prior to joining Legacy, Bradley served in a variety of senior nursing executive positions in large health systems, including the not-for-profit, for-profit, and public hospital sectors and was also the Regional Vice President and Editor for the California edition of NurseWeek.

Within her nursing career, she has worked as a staff nurse, clinical specialist, clinical director, and senior nurse executive. Bradley holds associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing from the University of Nebraska and a master of science in nursing degree from the University of Arizona. She is a 1991 Wharton Fellow and is certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) by the American Organization of Nurse Executives. She is a nationally known speaker and consultant on nursing/patient care, workforce issues, and work environment improvement, and is a frequent contributor to journals, media, and professional publications on topics important to nursing and patient care. She has contributed to several books and serves on the editorial board of Nursing Administrative Quarterly.

Cathleen M. Deckers, EdD, RN, CHSE


Cathleen Deckers has over 36 years of nursing education and training experience in both the service and the academic arenas. Her academic areas of expertise include utilization of high fidelity simulation for education training and competency assurance, management and supervision of clinical rotation experience, and data collection and research in clinical workforce development. Deckers’s research interests include high fidelity simulation, learning theory, and gaming. She is an active participant on the Accreditation Committee for the Society for Simulation in Healthcare to improve standardization of simulation practices internationally. Deckers currently works for California State University, Long Beach as an assistant professor in the School of Nursing. She also provides consultation and education services for CAE Healthcare.

Amy K. Doepken, MS, RN


Amy Doepken is a registered nurse who manages the Medical Specialties Unit at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington. Amy has partnered with the University of Portland to adopt their Dedicated Education Unit Model for her medical unit. Doepken is the former program director for the RN Residency and Academic Relationships for Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon. Doepken has a passion for promoting a positive preceptor experience and was involved in the early development of Legacy’s preceptor program. She has developed and supported debriefing and mentoring in her roles.


Doepken graduated with her bachelor of nursing science from the University of Portland in 2002 and a master’s degree in health system leadership from Gonzaga University in 2014. She has a strong background in critical care nursing. Doepken is an active member of NWONE and AONE. She completed the AONE Nurse Manager Fellowship in 2016 and was the AACN 2010 Circle of Excellence Award Winner.

Virginia Downie, MSN, RN-BC, NPDS​

Virginia Downie is a Nursing Education and Practice Specialist for Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon. She provides program support for the Legacy RN Residency Program in the areas of curriculum, mentorship, and preceptorship. Downie spearheaded the development and implementation of the Legacy Preceptorship Program, which provides ongoing recruitment, training, and support for RN and non-RN preceptors throughout the organization.

Downie received her master’s degree in nursing education from Nebraska Methodist College in 2014, and is board certified as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist. These accomplishments and her 30 years of direct care nursing experience enrich the commitment she has for creating and sustaining robust RN residency programs and preceptorships.

Denise D. Fall, DNP, RN, CENP


Denise Fall is the Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center. Fall completed her doctoral work at the University of San Francisco. She was the hospital nurse executive for Legacy Salmon Creek for 3 years before returning to Good Samaritan where she started her nursing career. Fall is known for building strong collaborative teams who drive quality and patient outcomes. Fall continues to support the clinical and academic progression of all nurses through her

work as a preceptor for doctoral and master’s students, as well as by advocating for new nurse graduates to be welcomed into all clinical settings.

Mary S. Haras, PhD, MBA, APN, NP-C, CNN


Mary Haras is currently Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Advanced Nursing Practice at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Prior to that, she was Associate Dean for graduate nursing programs at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. Haras is certified as an adult nurse practitioner by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and is a certified nephrology nurse by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. Haras has extensive experience in curriculum and preceptor development and has authored several book chapters and numerous manuscripts. She received her PhD in nursing from Illinois State University. Her research interests include advance care planning for persons with chronic kidney disease.

Cindy Lefton, PhD, RN, CPXP


Cindy Lefton is Manager and Researcher, Patient Experience, Emergency Services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Vice President, Organizational Consulting at Psychological Associates, Inc. She has combined her knowledge of organizations with her extensive experience as a registered nurse, paramedic, and clinical research nurse to develop a variety of effective interventions for academic medical centers and hospitals. These projects encompass a broad scope of services, including coaching, team building, survey development, and organizational collaboration training. Her research interests include healthy work environments, with an emphasis on meaningful recognition, demonstrating respect in the workplace, and team collaboration. Currently, she is leading The DAISY Award Impact Research team. Lefton has published articles on meaningful recognition, collaboration, respect, and culture change.

Lefton obtained her PhD in psychology from St. Louis University. She earned a master of science in research from St. Louis University and a master of arts in human resource management from Washington University, a bachelor of science in industrial psychology and organizational psychology from Washington University, and a nursing diploma from Jewish Hospital School of Nursing.

Robert E. Lefton, PhD


Robert Lefton, Cofounder and Current Chairman and CEO of Psychological Associates, Inc., has 60 years of experience as a consultant in leadership, organization and cultural change, and succession planning. Since earning his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, he has worked as a consultant with many of Fortune’s top 500 companies, has served on the faculty of Washington University, the Motorola Executive Institute, the ALCOA Executive Institute, and CEO International, Inc. As one of the original developers of Dimensional Training, he has conducted seminars for and consulted with several hundred leading hospitals and corporations in the United States and Europe. Lefton is coauthor of five books: Leadership Through People Skills, Dimensional Selling, Effective Motivation Through Performance Appraisal, Making Common Sense Common Practice, and Why Can’t We Get Anything Done Around Here? Lefton currently serves on the board of directors for Barnes-Jewish Hospital of St. Louis and numerous privately held and family-owned businesses. He is honored to be an executive in residence at the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.

Kim A. Richards, RN, NC-BC


As an author, inspiring professional speaker, and ANCC Board Certified Nurse Coach, Kim Richards is passionate about supporting busy caregivers in their quest for practical self-care integration. As a nurse and an executive recruiter, Richards became increasingly aware of the “revolving door” of nurses in acute care facilities. After interviewing hundreds of nurses, she noticed a common theme was emerging. Nurses were expressing signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue and burnout. By combining her passion for nursing, fitness, and coaching as well as her extensive research on the science of self-care, Richards created the components of Self-Care Academy, LLC, a comprehensive program that reduces turnover, improves engagement, and creates a culture of caring.

Karen C. Robbins, MS, RN, CNN

Karen Robbins has spent the majority of her nursing career in nephrology nursing. She has been a staff nurse in hemodialysis, a nurse clinician in transplantation, a nurse educator in a dialysis and transplant program, and the independent living donor advocate for live kidney donors. Robbins has been a mentor and educator for many nurses, especially in nephrology nursing, and an advocate for patients. She is a published author, editor, recognized speaker, and legal nurse consultant. Robbins is a Certified Nephrology Nurse by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. The associate editor of the Nephrology Nursing Journal, she is a past president of the American Nephrology Nurses Association.

Laura Lynn Rooney, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, BC-ADM, FAANP​

Laura Rooney has over 20 years of nursing and advanced nursing practice experience, and more than 10 years in nursing education, focusing on the advanced practice role. Rooney has been a family nurse practitioner in primary care, pain management, occupational health, and rural medicine. As Director of a nurse-managed clinic, Rooney was successful in implementing the first certified Diabetes Education Management Program in the system, followed by Level 3 recognition from the National Center for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Patient Centered Medical Home—the first nurse-managed clinic with this distinction in the health system. As the Director and Head Administrator for the clinic, Rooney was instrumental in establishing protocols and procedures, recruiting and retaining staff, and facilitating teamwork while demonstrating leadership.


Currently Rooney is an assistant professor at Cizik School of Nursing, with primary responsibilities in the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. She continues to practice in family medicine, with a focus on an underserved population, in a large multispecialty practice.

Laurie Shiparski, MS, BSN, RN


Laurie Shiparski has over 30 years’ experience in nursing and healthcare leadership positions. She has worked in various roles including critical-care RN, clinical hospital leadership, healthcare consulting business owner, and corporate executive in a healthcare technology and clinical practice company. She is currently a principal at Edgework Institute. As a consultant, Shiparski works in partnership with hospital leadership on leadership development and coaching, communication, physician-driven practice improvement, strategy, and operations improvement.


Shiparski has sought to uncover her gifts and bring her authentic self to work and life, which has inspired her to offer programs that focus on taking care of self, navigating change, finding passion and purpose, and creating new possibilities. She is also an international speaker and an author of numerous articles and five books.

Kelly C. Walker, DNP, CNM


Kelly Walker is an Assistant Professor and Core Program Director in the Department of Advanced Nursing Practice at Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Professor and Program Director for the Nurse Midwifery Program at Stony Brook University School of Nursing. She was a member of the Regional Perinatal Center at Upstate Medical University as a Certified Nurse Midwife and faculty member for 11 years. Her clinical experience also included 7 years in nursing at New York University. Her current practice includes midwifery care in a community outpatient setting. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Russell Sage College, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from New York University, and a doctorate in nursing practice from Stony Brook University. Walker also completed a post-doctorate fellowship in leadership and education at Stony Brook University.


Walker’s clinical scholarship includes improving maternal fetal outcomes and access to healthcare for vulnerable populations. Specific areas of interest include improving access to care for the LGBT community, identifying women at risk for postpartum depression, and decreasing elective induction of labor rates. Her scholarship in education includes promoting technology in distance education and outcome evaluation in midwifery and graduate education.


Walker holds an appointment on the Board of Midwifery for New York State. She is also a member of American College of Nurse Midwives, New York State Association of Licensed Midwives, and the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.


Wendy Jo Wilkinson, MSN, ARNP


Wendy Jo Wilkinson has over 40 years’ experience in the healthcare industry, serving in various roles within the acute hospital setting, home healthcare operations, and education. In these roles, she has gained expertise in leadership, multi-site management, start-up operations, strategic and financial planning, establishing clinical standards and competencies, development of specialized clinical programs, quality management and improvement, customer relations, and sales and marketing initiatives. Wilkinson now serves as Chief Nursing Officer and Manager for the Domestic Academy for CAE Healthcare, managing a team that consults and assists customers with applying, developing, implementing, and facilitating high fidelity patient simulation into their academic and hospital-based programs. She is ultimately responsible for the oversight of all CAE’s educational products to ensure they are clinically and pedagogically sound.


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