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The American Academy of Nursing has named a University of Louisiana at Lafayette dean to its 2020 Class of Fellows.

Dr. Melinda Oberleitner, who leads the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, is the only Fellow selected from Louisiana. She is among 230 nursing leaders chosen for this year’s class. They represent 39 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territory of Guam and 13 countries.

Oberleitner is a pioneer in the field of oncology nursing. Her extensive publications have focused on issues relevant to cancer survivors. She became dean of UL Lafayette’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions in 2018 after nearly a decade as associate dean. She joined the faculty in 1982.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in recognition of my career-long research and leadership efforts that have influenced oncology nursing strategic planning and policy development at the national level and which drive oncology clinical practice in the United States,” Oberleitner said.

She continued: “In addition, our research has resulted in the development of evidence-based oncology nursing specific competencies for new graduates of pre-licensure nursing programs, which ensure preparation of a nursing workforce competent to care for cancer survivors at all stages of the cancer continuum, from diagnosis through to the end of life.”

The American Academy of Nursing advances health policy and practice through the creation and sharing of nursing knowledge.

Fellows are chosen “for their extraordinary contributions to improve health locally and globally,” the academy said in a press release announcing the 2020 class. “With more than 2,700 Fellows, the Academy represents nursing’s most accomplished leaders in policy, research, administration, practice, and academia.”

“Induction into the Academy is a significant milestone in a nurse leader’s career in which their accomplishments are honored by their colleagues within the profession,” the press release continued.

Dr. Eileen Sullivan-Marx, the organization’s president, characterized the 2020 Fellows as “exceptional.”

“Their work, across many fields of expertise, exemplifies the power of nursing knowledge in creating meaningful change. As a policy organization, we strive to improve health and achieve health equity through nursing leadership, innovation, and science,” she said. 

Inductees will be recognized during the academy’s annual conference, which will be held virtually in October.

Photo caption: Dr. Melinda Oberleitner is dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)