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College of Nursing Receives Prestigious Academic-Practice Partnership Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing selected the University of Tennessee, College of Nursing’s Transforming RN Roles in Community-based Integrated Primary Care (TRIP) grant to receive its 2021 AACN Exemplary Academic-Practice Partnership Award.

This award is given to academic-practice partnerships that demonstrate positive, measurable outcomes and an innovative, sustained relationship.

The TRIP program, a four-year $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration was formed in 2018 between the College of Nursing and Cherokee Health Systems to train Bachelor of Science in Nursing students to work in primary care with rural and underserved populations and to advance leadership skills for registered nurses to work at the full scope of their license.

“The partnership has truly been a win-win for all of us,” said Sandra Mixer, TRIP project director and associate professor at the college. “Cherokee registered nurses and UT nursing faculty have formed collaborative relationships that transformed nursing education and healthcare in our community.”

“The opportunity to give future nurse leaders an immersion experiene in primary care is an investment for the future,” said Parinda Khatri, Cherokee’s chief clinical officer.

In its final year, the TRIP program has trained over 50 BSN students and 22 Cherokee Health Systems registered nurses and nursing faculty and staff. An additional 22 registered nurses and faculty will be trained in spring 2022.

“This academic clinical partnership by far has been the most rewarding venture in my numerous years of work in nursing,” said Jenn Craig, Cherokee’s director of nursing.

In addition, TRIP program principles of community-based integrated primary care have been infused into the traditional BSN curriculum.

“It has been most rewarding to see education for BSNs in the primary care setting particularly during the COVID pandemic when primary care was so critical,” said Febe Wallace, Cherokee’s medical director. “TRIP students have had so many great opportunities to prepare for real-world clinical settings.”

Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the college, Lizanne Elliott, clinical associate professor and TRIP faculty liaison, and Susan Rowlett, nurse manager of the Seymour Clinic-Cherokee Health Systems and TRIP clinical coach, accepted the award on Monday, November 1 during the 2021 AACN Academic Nursing Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

“This award is a testament to the strong and growing partnerships we have within our community,” said Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the college. “Our students gain important experience working as a member of an interdisciplinary health care team to improve the health of people in Tennessee.”



Kara Clark Cardwell (, 865-974-9498)