UAMS’ Thomason Receives National Gerontological Nursing Excellence Award

By Spencer Watson

Thomason, one of six to receive the honor, is also director of the college’s Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program and is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner. Her mentors are Leanne Lefler, Ph.D., A.P.R.N. an associate professor in the College of Nursing, and Gloria Richard-Davis, M.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine.

She will receive a grant of $100,000 to support her doctoral education and begin a career in academic gerontological nursing. Now a student in the UAMS doctoral program, Thomason is co-principal investigator of a recently completed pilot study funded with money from the state’s Tobacco Settlement. The study is called “Secondhand smoke and allelic variances on Codon 98 as risk factors for cervical cancer.” She has had several research articles published and speaks locally and nationally on the connection between secondhand smoke and cervical cancer, along with sexual risk behaviors and gynecologic health of older women.

She has been actively involved with the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence and is helping design an activity to train Geriatric Nurse Practitioners about health issues in older women. 

The Arkansas Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence was established in 2001 at UAMS with funding from the John A. Hartford Foundation.

For the past 13 years the center’s goal has been increasing the capacity of academic geriatric nursing to provide expert geriatric care that improves the health of older adults in Arkansas and the southern region of the United States. The UAMS Hartford Center is one of only eight such programs in the nation, funding research, practice, leadership and education opportunities in academic geriatric nursing.

The National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Initiative began in 2000 with support from the John A. Hartford Foundation, and attracted additional funding partners in The Atlantic Philanthropies and Mayday Fund. The initiative’s main goals are to increase the ranks of academic geriatric nurses, build leadership capacity in academic geriatric nurses, and build national collaboration and excitement about geriatric/gerontological nursing.

The Gerontological Society of America is the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the society and its 5,400+ members is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers and the general public. The society’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.


UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.