Each year, students at the School of Nursing are asked to nominate exceptional faculty members for the Caroline Pennington Award, named for a graduate of the class of 1918 who was known for her dedication, hard work and innovation. The award recognizes excellence and provides public acknowledgment of the qualities that define special teachers. This year's recipient is Diane Aschenbrenner.
Aschenbrenner has been an instructor at the School of Nursing since 1985. She teaches Principles and Applications of Nursing Technologies, one of the first courses nursing students take, as well as Pharmacology and a clinical course called Adult Health Nursing. This enables her to follow some students throughout the course of their education.
"Seeing the development of my students, from their first day of nursing school until graduation, is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of teaching," Aschenbrenner said. "It's amazing to me how far they progress in a year or two."
One student applauded Aschenbrenner's matter-of-fact approach to teaching as well as her accessibility outside class. "Diane Aschenbrenner stands out as a professor who demonstrates an outstanding level of professionalism and endless energy. She makes it her goal to be available to students seeking guidance outside of class," the student said in a nomination.
"The challenge for my students is to learn how to think like a nurse," Aschenbrenner said. "It's not enough to just know the facts. Nursing is a practice profession. Nurses need to be able to apply the facts to each patient situation, really focusing on what the patient needs in a changing health care environment."
According to her students, they learn just that. "Ms.
Aschenbrenner does everything she can to help us understand
how to apply what we learn and to think critically," said
one student. "She is a warm and caring individual who
really wants us to understand material rather than just be
able to pass tests."