UAMS Faculty Named Nursing Educator of the Year

By Spencer Watson

“I do this job because I love it,” she said.

Nevertheless, last month she became the first ever UAMS recipient of the 14-year-old Arkansas Nurse Educator of the Year award, presented by a company called PCI, which produces publications for nursing groups and state boards of nursing throughout the country.

“I want to make a difference for our students. I want them to have the support and the assistance they need, which I may have sometimes felt I didn’t get as a student a long time ago,” said Rainey. “So that being said, I am a huge student advocate.”

To that end, she has worked on various grants providing full tuition and support for some 500 students receiving education and training as certified nurse assistants, licensed practical nurses, and baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses.

Additionally, she facilitated the development of Arkansas’ first online training for individuals in nursing education. This training comprised over 214 participants, significantly contributing to the number of nurses qualified to serve as future nurse educators in Arkansas.

It’s that work that prompted Donna Middaugh, Ph.D., RN, associate dean for academic programs in the College of Nursing, to nominate Rainey for the award.

“Rarely in my 30 years as a faculty member and associate dean have I known someone who exemplifies the care and compassion toward students and their success as Larronda Rainey does,” Middaugh wrote in the nomination.

While proud of what she’s done for students, Rainey would be the first to say she did not do it alone.

“I definitely want to give credit to all the other faculty and coworkers who worked just as hard and helped me make those things happen,” she said. “There are a lot of great nurse educators.”

Rainey came to UAMS in 1999, beginning her career as a hospital nurse. Eventually pursing her master’s, she migrated toward education and has been an instructor for the past 15 years.

“I always knew I wanted to teach,” said Rainey, whose parents were both educators. “When I first started out in nursing, one of my five-year goals was to be an educator. So when everything started falling into place, that’s really when I started to feel like I had the best of both worlds. I get to talk about what I love, and that’s nursing. It just seemed like a natural fit for me, and it has been. I’m very happy because I truly enjoy what I do.”