Rea Honored for Work in Emergency Nursing

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Nursing professor of 16 years will be inducted into the Academy of Emergency Nursing this October for her leadership, mentorship and research.

Associate Professor Ruth ReaUW Tacoma Associate Professor Ruth Rea will be inducted into the Academy of Emergency Nursing this October for her leadership and research in the field of emergency nursing. She and nine others will join the 110 members of the academy, all of whom have provided leadership and made significant, lasting contributions in the field of emergency nursing.

“Emergency nursing” applies to a variety of types of nursing – from treating car crash victims in the emergency room to working in the field as a military nurse to caring for a patient with an acute  fever. They are often the first health care providers patients interact with.

“We deal with symptoms. We don’t have people coming in with a diagnosis,” Rea says. So if a patient comes in with chest pain and shortness of breath, the nurse might need to help diagnose it as a heart attack.

“In my mind, that makes it quite a bit more interesting,” says Rea.

The Academy of Emergency Nursing was created by the Emergency Nurses Association in 2004 as a body of mentors and leaders within their organization. With over 40,000 members, the Emergency Nurses Association offers education and professional development opportunities, sets standards and provides advocacy. Rea’s induction into the academy honors her work as a leader and mentor, both within and outside of the association.

“It’s an amazing honor. I was quite overwhelmed to be selected. And it brings, also, a huge mentoring responsibility,” says Rea.

Rea has acted as a leader and mentor in various capacities throughout her 35-year career, drawing from her leadership experience in both the civilian and military world.

Rea started off in the military as part of the Army Nurse Corps, eventually serving as the head nurse at the Fort Hood emergency department. During Operation Desert Storm, she led in the intensive retraining of 240 activated reservist medics who prepared to reenter the field.

After she left the military, Rea worked as a consultant, assisting University of Pennsylvania and California State University as they sought to incorporate trauma and emergency nursing into their nursing program curricula.

In 1986, Rea led in the development of the Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC), a two-day class that teaches nurses to quickly identify and treat severely injured patients. (Coincidentally, Sharon Fought, director of the nursing and healthcare leadership programs at UW Tacoma, was part of Rea’s team as they developed this curriculum.) The course is now taught in 50 states and 13 countries; this August alone, 250 TNCC classes will be offered.

“Those of us that were involved in developing the TNCC firmly believe we … have saved countless lives,” says Rea.

In 1998, Rea realized she “needed to be around students,” and began teaching at UW Tacoma, where she is an instructor in the Nursing and Healthcare Leadership programs.

“What does Ruth bring to the Nursing program?” asks Fought. “Rigor; commitment to excellence; significant experience in patient care, administration, leadership and research roles; and a capacity to support learners as they apply conceptual knowledge and theory to practice, to face the workplace problems of today and tomorrow.”

Rea took an active, leading role in the creation of the B.A. in healthcare leadership and the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs. She has also helped set up fieldwork learning opportunities for students in these programs, which Fought calls “extremely important and successful.”

As an instructor, Rea is a “strong supporter of students at all levels,” says Fought.

For instance, Rea mentored UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Susan Johnson while Johnson was a master’s student at UW Tacoma. Their research found that over 25 percent of emergency nurses experience bullying in the workplace, and those that are bullied are more likely to leave their jobs, or the nursing profession. These findings were published in the article “Workplace bullying: Concerns for nurse leaders,” for which Johnson was the primary author. This research informed the 2012 American Nurses Association publication “Bullying in the Workplace: Reversing a Culture.”

In addition to her induction into the Academy of Emergency Nursing, Rea has received several other recognitions for her work. She received the Judith C. Kelleher Award from the Emergency Nurses Association in 1996 and the Best Emergency Nursing Research Award from the Micromedex/Emergency Nurses Association Foundation in 1999. She has reviewed articles for the Journal of Emergency Nursing since 2006. Rea has also been involved in the educational, giving, research and annual planning committees within the Emergency Nurses Association.

Rea’s induction into the Academy of Emergency Nursing celebrates her work in research, leadership and mentorship of emergency nurses. And, no doubt, she will continue to be actively involved, providing guidance and new research, at UW Tacoma and nationally. 

Learn more about the UW Tacoma Nursing program.

Written by: 
Abby Rhinehart / August 11, 2014
Media contact: 
John Burkhardt, Media Relations,, 253-692-4536