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​​​​From left:​ Lynn Blanchette, RIC professor of nursing and associate dean of the School of Nursing; and RIC senior Laura Ramirez​

RIC Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean Lynn Blanchette and senior Laura Ramirez are just two of the many reasons why Rhode Island College excels in nursing education.

Honored with the 2018 Nurse of the Year in an Academic Setting award by the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, Blanchette is profiled in the September issue of Rhode Island Monthly in a column dedicated to Excellence in Nursing. In addition, RIC student Laura Ramirez, the first recipient of the Senior Student Nurse of the Year award, will also be featured.

Blanchette is a board-certified public health nurse who has practiced for 36 years. As associate dean, she promotes and develops community partnerships and creates opportunities for RIC nursing students to enter the health-care workforce. 

As a distinguished faculty member, Blanchette has taught for the past 13 years in the area of community/public health and nominated Ramirez, her former student, for the Senior Student Nurse of the Year award because, she said, Ramirez “epitomizes our school’s philosophy.” 

“In the School of Nursing, we emphasize the nurse’s role in providing all groups of people with equal access to health care,” Blanchette said. “Laura has worked to truly help people in her community gain access to the health resources they need. She’s the kind of graduate we want to identify and be identified with in our program.” 

Ramirez is a member of the Medical Care Team at New Life Church and actively participates in the I Love My City events that the church holds for communities in need within the City of Providence. In addition, for the past five years, she has worked as a patient service representative at Thundermist Health Center, where almost half of the patients are uninsured and struggle with unemployment or underemployment. Through Thundermist, which currently does not have a Spanish-speaking nurse, Ramirez became a certified Spanish medical interpreter.

Ramirez explained that she didn’t know anything about community health work until she took Blanchette’s course this summer (co-taught by Professor of Nursing Joanne Costello). 

“I was really impressed by the passion in my professors and I learned so much,” Ramirez said. “Before this course, I didn’t know in what area of nursing I wanted to go into after graduation. Now I know I want to continue in community nursing. It’s a perfect fit for me. I love being able to help empower families with better health, knowledge and resources.”

Ramirez graduates with a B.S.N. this December. And Blanchette herself is a 1982 graduate of RIC’s B.S.N. program. 

“Being named Nurse of the Year in an Academic Setting aptly recognizes her exceptional contributions to professional nursing,” said former dean of the School of Nursing Jane Williams. “Professor Blanchette is an expert community health nurse and an outstanding teacher who has inspired many of our graduates to pursue community health practice. Our communities will be healthier as a result of her work.” ​