PHOTO: Vera Borkowski

Vera Borkowski

Vera Borkowski, MSN, APRN, FNP-C is the recipient of the NEF Evelyn J. Barclay Scholarship. She is currently a 3rd year PhD student at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. Vera was inspired to become a nurse by her aunts Elizabeth and Theresa, both of whom have since passed away from breast cancer. As her role models, Vera was motivated to provide family-centered, holistic care regardless of a patient’s background, dedicated to making every patient feel accepted, heard, and their burdens alleviated.

Vera graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s in Nursing Science, with Highest Distinction in 2004. She worked in a variety of settings as a Registered Nurse for 11 years, including Neonatal Intensive Care, Pediatric Intensive Care, Post-anesthesia Care Unit, and Pediatric Transport. In 2015, Vera graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University with a Master of Science, Family Nurse Practitioner degree. Since 2015, she has practiced in School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) at the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, and as Adjunct Faculty for undergraduate and DNP students. Vera received the Health Resources and Service Administration NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Award and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Award for her work with underserved populations with limited access to healthcare.

Vera contributed to numerous projects for the SBHC program including the “National Quality Initiative Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN)” and “Enhancing the Female Adolescent Well-Care Visit” with the School Based Health Alliance. She was also part of the National Project on Implementing the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in schools, attending the 2018, 2019, and 2020 SBIRT Convenings with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. A project implementing an alerts system in her SBHC program led to a 135% increase in mental health screening, findings that were published in the Journal for Nursing Informatics in 2021.

Vera enrolled in Vanderbilt University School of Nursing’s PhD in Nursing Science program to explore informatics utilization for healthcare providers serving vulnerable populations, specifically for how to address social determinants of health in SBHCs. Her short-term goal during her dissertation is to understand information gathering behaviors for SDoH and social risks performed by SBHC providers for prevention of asthma exacerbations. A second aim is to understand how an informatics resource may facilitate further social risk screening and preventative education provided by SBHCs. She hopes to increase awareness of school-based health care, starting with her recent publication of a concept analysis on School-based Health Centers in the Journal of Pediatric Healthcare in 2022.

Vera seeks to become a leader in nursing research and education, specifically related to alternative models of care to promote health equity, including SBHCs. Obtaining a PhD, with the aid of the Evelyn J. Barclay Scholarship from NEF, will allow Vera to contribute nursing knowledge about the potential for informatics to promote screening of social risk factors and provision of resources for patient-identified social needs.

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