Nancy M.H. Pontes, Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P.-B.C., F.N.A.P., received the ‘Innovations in the Continuum of Care Award’ from the Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey (ONL NJ) at its Annual Holiday Meeting held Dec. 7, 2018. The award recognizes Pontes, an assistant professor with the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, for her leadership in implementing a nursing project that has had significant outcomes outside of the acute care setting. Pontes is a family nurse practitioner whose academic interests are focused on the improvement of population health trans-nationally.
“This annual event offers ONL NJ the opportunity to celebrate and honor individuals for their significant contributions to nursing,” said ONL NJ President Ann Marie Leichman, M.S.N., R.N., N.E.A.-B.C. “The 2018 class of honorees is quite an accomplished group.”
In 2016, Pontes was the recipient of a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education International Foreign Language Education office to increase international studies and Spanish language education for nursing students. This grant expanded existing programs and scholarships for learning abroad in in Latin American, and initiated a population health course in Cuba. Through this grant, she and Spanish language collaborators co-created an internal certificate in Spanish for the health professions program at Rutgers University–Camden, which seeks to promote health equity for underserved Latino and immigrant populations by strengthening Spanish language skills among future healthcare professionals.
This innovative model unites a diverse array of Rutgers–Camden partners, including the School of Nursing–Camden, the Department of World Languages and Cultures’ Spanish program, the Community Leadership Center, and the Learning Abroad program. The program recently received the 2018 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award.
“We need to educate nurses and other health providers across sectors to better communicate in the languages of those we serve. This needs to be broadened and become a standard of practice,” says Dr. Pontes, who serves as a co-leader of the interdisciplinary program. Pontes notes that improving the Spanish language skills of students and future health care providers is “perfect for Camden,” where about 40 percent of the city’s residents speak Spanish, according to U.S. Census data.
ONL NJ has been the professional organization for nursing leaders in their quest for a united voice in representing nursing administration and management in all practice settings, and is inclusive of the engagement of all nurse leaders and aspiring nurse leaders in the state.