Geist honored for innovation in health care

COOKEVILLE — Tennessee Tech’s Melissa Geist has been recognized for her innovation in health care.

Geist, a professor in Tech’s Whitson-Hester School of Nursing, and board-certified family and pediatric nurse practitioner, has been honored by Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with the school’s Alumni Award for Innovation in Health Care. The award was recently presented during a virtual celebration. 

“It was such a surprise and one of the coolest things about the event is that I was nominated by my colleagues here at Tennessee Tech in Chemical Engineering,” said Geist. “To have this group that I have worked with for so many years provide that nomination and then receive that award is great.”

Geist, who graduated from Vanderbilt with a master’s of science in nursing in 1996 and doctor of education in 2004, came to Tech because of the university’s commitment to its students and excellence in teaching. 

In her role as a nursing professor, Geist endeavors to engage students in the classroom and through intensive project-based study abroad programs and through her Clinical Immersion for Healthcare Innovation course.

She has taken students to Cuba and helped lead service learning trips to Belize where nursing and engineering students worked together to begin developing sustainable relationships with villages in desperate need of medical and environmental assistance. 

“I’m training future nurses to see themselves as the innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Geist.

The award is presented to a VUSN alumna/us who uses nursing experience and knowledge to create tools that solve health care issues. This can be in clinical, political, academic or other setting.

In presenting the award, VUSN Alumni Association President Hannah Lowe, DNP, RD, FNP-C, CDCES, praised Geist for her work in designing courses and opportunities for students at Tennessee Tech to create tools that solve health care problems. Many of these projects combine the nursing curricula with those of engineering, computer science, professional studies and education so that students from multiple disciplines collaborate to create prototypes of innovative technology that address a healthcare-specific challenge.

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