School of Nursing
Dr. Emma Kurnat-Thoma stands in front of Healy Hall's red brick and stone facade on Georgetown's campus
News Story

Georgetown Nursing Professor to Be Inducted as American Academy of Nursing Fellow

August 9, 2021 – Dr. Emma Kurnat-Thoma, a faculty member in the Department of Professional Nursing Practice at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, will be inducted as a fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Nursing.

“I am extremely honored, humbled, and blessed to receive the FAAN recognition, and honestly a little overwhelmed by the magnitude,” Kurnat-Thoma said. 

The academy announced the new class of 225 fellows on August 4, and the induction will take place at the organization’s annual meeting in October.

‘Embody Our Values’

Dr. Eileen Sullivan-Marx, the academy’s president, said she was “thrilled to welcome another exceptional class.”

“The academy aims to improve health and achieve health equity through nursing leadership, innovation, and science,” she noted. “The academy’s fellows embody our values of equity, diversity and inclusivity, inquiry, integrity, and courage, which enable us to achieve new heights of impact that advance health policy across the globe.” (Visit the academy’s press release.)

Kurnat-Thoma, reflecting on the expression “to whom much is given, much is required,” said fellowship is meaningful because it offers a level of “satisfaction that my work advanced the interests of the nursing profession, patients, employees, and nurses in the various communities I served.”

Genetics and Policy

The professor’s teaching and scholarship are at the intersection of genetics, genomics, and policy.

“My scholarship and portfolio involvement grows over time due to the requirements of various health, science, and technology policy service roles,” Kurnat-Thoma said. “But there will always be policy advocacy to ensure adequate genomics translation for the entire nursing workforce to advance human health.” 

She added, “This involves ensuring the protection of vulnerable populations, supporting and empowering our front-line workers and clinicians, and ethical acceleration of access to innovative precision diagnostics and therapeutics.” 

Career Highlights

Kurnat-Thoma has been a National Institute of Nursing post-doctoral fellow, was a White House Fellows Program finalist, and served on a genetics-focused task for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics Health and Society.

When asked about how she enjoys teaching at Georgetown, she said, “I just love it.” Kurnat-Thoma teaches genetics and genomics for first-year graduate students in the Clinical Nurse Leader Program, as well as co-teaches a research methods course.

“Their minds are like sponges,” the soon-to-be AAN fellow said. “Every lecture and assignment we encounter together is a life-changing adventure – at least on my end anyway. I think they teach me more than I teach them.”

‘Well-Deserved Recognition’

Kurnat-Thoma expressed gratitude to her academy sponsors, who are Dr. Edilma Yearwood, chair of the Department of Professional Nursing Practice at Georgetown, and Dr. Mei Fu, senior associate dean at Rutgers School of Nursing in Camden, NJ.

“Academy fellowship is such an important and well-deserved recognition of Dr. Kurnat-Thoma’s contributions to our professional field,” said Yearwood. “Our students have benefited greatly from her expertise in genetics, policy, and research, and we look forward to celebrating her induction this fall.”

Yearwood is an academy fellow along with Georgetown faculty colleagues Dr. Mary Brucker, Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, Dr. Erin Maughan, Dr. Suzanne Miyamoto, Professor Joan Riley, Dr. Peggy Slota, and Dr. Carol Taylor.

By Bill Cessato