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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Nursing informatics researcher joins UF faculty

A new professor and researcher has joined the UF College of Nursing. 

Gail Keenan from the University of Illinois received the Annabel Davis Jenks endowed professorship for teaching and research in clinical nursing excellence.

Keenan was selected by members from the College of Engineering, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the College of Nursing to advance nursing informatics.

Keenan uses nursing informatics, which combines nursing, computer and information sciences, to manage and improve communication data in nursing.

The data is then used to identify the most cost-effective nursing practices that make a difference in the quality of care, said Anna M. McDaniel, the dean of the nursing college.

In Chicago, Keenan worked as the director of the Nursing Informatics Initiative and as an associate director of the Health Systems Science Division.

“There’s a lot of new things happening,” Keenan said. “University of Florida wants to be at the forefront of informatics here in the state and nationally…and it’s very exciting to be in a place that is really moving along and very ripe for that kind of collaboration that’s needed in a field like this.”

McDaniel said the committee selected Keenan out of six to eight (about seven?) other applicants.

“Dr. Keenan has a strong teaching record, and we look forward to her contributing her expertise for our students at all levels of the program,” McDaniel said. “Her research is fundamental to advancing the future of our profession."

Keenan, who has received more than $7.5 million in research grants, said her research uses terminology and language to help nurses be understood across the field. 

“It is not just about any one discipline,” she said. “You really have to work with many disciplines, and that’s not so easy. But there’s a ripeness here, and people want to work with one another and do what it takes."

Growing up in Ohio, Keenan said she became interested in nursing in eighth grade, when she visited a group of nurses in Chicago

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“It was very impressive to me,” she said. “The more education I got, the more I began to recognize that I really wanted to do research.”

One of Keenan’s goals is to work with more graduate and undergraduate students. 

“Being in academia is about how you also bring forward the next generation,” she said. “They learn about research, and then they extend that research in other areas. Research is not done in isolation.” 

McDaniel said she also expects Keenan will attract computer science graduate students.

“Dr. Keenan’s addition to UF’s College of Nursing will have a great impact on our program,” said Ellie Peterson, a 20-year-old nursing junior. “Her addition should keep the UF College of Nursing  up-to-date with all of the constantly evolving technological advances in nursing and health care.”

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