The American Academy of Nursing has named a University of Louisiana at Lafayette educator to its 2021 Class of Fellows.
Dr. Paula Zeanah is the second UL Lafayette faculty member recognized as an academy Fellow in as many years. Last year, the AAN named Dr. Melinda Oberleitner, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, a Fellow.
Zeanah is the only Fellow from Louisiana selected for the 2021 class. She holds the Lafayette General Medical Center/Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center BORSF Endowed Chair in Nursing in the University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, where she contributes research and teaches graduate students population health and primary care.
She has worked as a pediatric nurse and clinical psychologist in a variety of settings serving children and their families. Her expertise includes physical and mental health; perinatal, infant, and early childhood mental health; adolescent and early adulthood sexuality; and chronic illness in children and adolescents.
Zeanah is among 225 nursing leaders from 38 states, the District of Columbia, and 17 countries chosen this year to become American Academy of Nursing Fellows. They join an elite group that now comprises more than 2,900 experts in policy, research, administration, practice, and academia who champion health and wellness.
Zeanah is being recognized for her contributions in education, practice, and policy that address the mental health needs of vulnerable mothers and their infants and children at state, national and international levels; she is also being acknowledged for her leadership in addressing childhood adversity and trauma by magnifying needs and advancing innovative mental health approaches for populations that are often inadequately served by traditional health systems.
“Nursing is a profession that values and relies upon research to inform practice. There’s never been more expertise in the field, or as comprehensive a commitment to health and wellness, which makes it an exceptionally good time to be a nurse,” Zeanah explained.
The American Academy of Nursing agrees. Its focus is on improving health and achieving health equity through nursing leadership, innovation, and science, according to a press release. “The Academy’s Fellows embody our values of equity, diversity and inclusivity, inquiry, integrity, and courage, which enable us to achieve new heights of impact that advance health policy across the globe,” noted Dr. Eileen Sullivan-Marx, the organization’s president.
Class of 2021 Fellows will be inducted during the American Academy of Nursing’s Health Policy Conference in October.
Zeanah is also research director for UL Lafayette’s Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning. The Picard Center’s multidisciplinary group of evaluation and research professionals generates high-quality research and program evaluation. Projects conducted at the center focus on early childhood education, social-emotional development and health, adolescents and young adults, and workforce development.
Photo caption: Dr. Paula Zeanah holds the Lafayette General Medical Center/Our Lady of the Lake Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in the University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and is research director for the Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning. (Photo credit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette)