It’s been a whirlwind for Tener G. Veenema, PhD, MPH, RN: joining the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and being named one of only 32 recipients worldwide of the 2013 Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve. But few could be better prepared for these leadership roles than Veenema, a globally known expert in disaster nursing. 

Instituted in 1912 by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Florence Nightingale Medal is awarded to nurses or nursing aides for "exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of a conflict or disaster" as well as for exemplary service or a pioneering spirit in public health or nursing education. Veenema, a Fellow of the American Academy of Nurses (FAAN), is one of only five 2013 recipients from the United States.

Joining “these incredible nurses who achieved just amazing career work within the field of disaster nursing is certainly inspiring me to continue on with my work and my personal career goal—to develop a national nursing workforce that has the knowledge and experience to respond to any emergency,” she says.

Veenema earned her PhD at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, where she also designed and implemented a master’s degree program in healthcare leadership with a focus on disaster response and emergency preparedness, the first of its kind in the U.S. After nine years there, Veenema left to head up the Tener Consulting Group, which provides strategic guidance, technological expertise, and educational services for workforce development related to disaster preparedness and emergency public health services.

A volunteer American Red Cross nurse for more than 25 years, Veenema serves as an invited member of the organization’s National Scientific Advisory Committee. In her role as a volunteer nurse, Veenema has provided assistance and guidance to victims of numerous national disasters and disaster response teams deployed by the American Red Cross. Veenema was heavily involved in the response to Hurricane Katrina, working with the chief nurse and Disaster Health Services leadership team.

“I hope that while I’m at Hopkins I can use my experience as a Red Cross nurse to prepare nurses and other emergency medicine professionals here at Hopkins, and in the greater Baltimore area, to respond to a national disaster,” says Veenema, assistant professor in the Department of Community-Public Health.

She will receive the Florence Nightingale Medal at a ceremony on October 23 in Washington, DC.

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