Terri Ares, PhD, RN, lecturer and clinical nurse specialist program adviser at California State University, Dominguez Hills, has been honored with the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists’ 2015 Clinical Nurse Specialist Educator of the Year Award.
Ares, who earned her BSN and MSN in nursing at CSUDH, was presented the award March 6 during the NACNS’ 2015 Annual Conference in San Diego, according to a news release. The award recognizes outstanding professional achievement among CNS educators, and acknowledges excellence and innovation in preparing CNS students.
“I was very excited when I heard I won the award, primarily because it was the students who had put forward the nomination,” Ares said in the release. “It’s wonderful they did that during their busy final semester here … So this is truly a humbling experience.”
Students submit NACNS award nomination
Entrenched last fall while finishing their clinical hours, studying for final exams and preparing for graduation, CNS students Darlene Rabe-Kerr, Sandra Alviso, Ruby Loyola, Sarah Scoins and Zhuiming Zhang assembled the award-nomination package.
“Since we began attending the CNS program here at CSUDH, Dr. Ares has been a great role model for all of us. Not only is she a teacher and coach, but she cares, encourages and supports us every step of the way,” wrote the students in a note they included in the nomination package, according to the release. “Dr. Ares has always been there, sacrificing time on weekends and in the evening, talking to us over the phone and giving us invaluable advice.”
The CNS program at CSUDH is taught almost entirely online. It offers a BSN and an MSN in two CNS options, parent-child and gerontology. The program’s required in-house clinical hours are available at sites throughout California. The CSUDH online BSN program was recently ranked in the U.S. News & World Report 2015 Best College rankings.
Ares enjoys the online format, and teaching both seasoned nurses who enroll at CSUDH to earn a higher degree and newcomers to the field.
“It takes some skill to teach a person who is brand new, and still be able to engage people who have been practicing for decades,” she said. “It’s also rewarding to be able to bring together your own personal and practical experiences and education to teach at each level.”
Ares was also acknowledged by the association for her dedication to improving the CNS program at CSUDH.
When Ares joined the faculty in 2007, declining enrollment threatened the future of the gerontology option, according to the release. She proposed and offered to teach both curriculums. But rather than teaching them as two separate courses, she took a more holistic approach that ultimately strengthened both options.
“In my mind the courses didn’t need to be segregated because the nursing roles in both options featured many of the same elements, and enrollment was not high enough to justify having separate courses,” said Ares in the release. “Instead of having two similar curricula with small courses in each program, or just parent-child with no gerontology at all, we mixed them together.
Along with outstanding achievement, the NACNS noted Ares’ inventive program development skills and her leadership style as major factors in choosing her to receive the honor. Her focus on “role clarification” and how she encourages students to “think like a CNS and appreciate the possibilities within the role” also caught the association’s attention.
As a CSUDH alumna, Ares earned her PhD in nursing education at Villanova University, where she received the College of Nursing’s Best Dissertation Award.
“Our CNS program has always been unusual in that it serves students who are already nurses but can’t be on campus three days a week in a traditional class,” she said in the release. “That is just one of the things I love about it. As an online program, I love that I have students up and down the state. I love that some of my students are on the East Coast. I love the flexibility and challenges of our program, which is offered to special kinds of students — those who appreciate a limited number of barriers while pursuing their academic goals.”