Dr. Cheryl Lacasse Named the Third Anne Furrow Professor of Integrative Nursing

Feb. 19, 2021

University of Arizona College of Nursing Clinical Professor and Coordinator, RN-MSN program Cheryl Lacasse, PhD, RN, AOCNS has been named the Anne Furrow Professor of Integrative Nursing. Dr. Lacasse is the third UArizona Nursing faculty member to hold the Professorship, succeeding Mary Koithan, PhD and Dean Ki Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN.

The first integrative nursing professorship in the country, the Anne Furrow Professorship was created to assist the College in recruiting and retaining extraordinary faculty. Anne Louise Furrow, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UArizona Nursing, was the first pediatric nurse practitioner licensed in the state of Arizona. She worked as a pediatric nurse at Pima County Health for 30 years in a career-long quest to better the lives of women and children. In 2011 she joined the College of Nursing Advisory Board and in 2015 she established the Anne Furrow Professor of Integrative Nursing. Originally created for pediatrics, it was later refined by Ms. Furrow to focus on integrative nursing.

“I am honored and humbled to be appointed. The professorship demonstrates the College of Nursing's commitment to advancing integrative nursing and integrative nursing education for clinicians and educators," ~ Cheryl Lacasse, PhD, RN, AOCNS

“I am honored and humbled to be appointed,” Dr. Lacasse said. “The professorship demonstrates the College of Nursing's commitment to advancing integrative nursing and integrative nursing education for clinicians and educators.”

As a leader in creating transformational change in the development of programs to train integrative nursing faculty, UArizona Nursing has demonstrated a strong commitment to establish curriculum for all levels of nursing education and determining core competencies required for national certification in the field. In 2016, the College started the nationally recognized Integrative Nursing Faculty Fellowship (INFF), a first-of-its-kind program designed to provide faculty with opportunities to learn the theory, science and practice of integrative health, and create applications to nursing education and discovery.

As the first Faculty lead for the program, Dr. Lacasse has a long track record of commitment to integrative health issues. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience in advanced clinical practice, managing complex care of cancer survivors and using integrative nursing therapeutics for symptom management and long-term health and wellbeing.

The whole-person philosophy behind integrative nursing has guided Dr. Lacasse throughout her nursing career. She is trained in the use of relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, visual imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation, and she used mindfulness techniques in her oncology practice as a Clinical Nurse Specialist working with oncology patients with complex symptom management challenges. In addition, she has proficiencies in yoga and acupressure and has an interest in healthy learning and work environments.

“Integrative nursing and caring science align with my personal philosophy of caring, nursing, and nursing education,” Dr. Lacasse said. “Compassion-based care is an important part of the healing process across the care continuum. Equally important is compassion-based education, caring for student's body-mind-spirit to facilitate student growth, development, and self-care and longevity in the nursing profession.”

The role of the professorship is to promote health and wellbeing throughout the College through education, scholarship, and service. Initially Dr. Lacasse will work with the College's recently established BSN-IH program, with plans to ultimately work with faculty and students across all education programs.  She hopes to use the strong foundation of integrative nursing educational assets carefully built by Drs. Mary Koithan and Natalie Pool, among others, to continue to meet the learning needs of faculty regarding teaching and learning integrative nursing.  "I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards with the College community and the University of Arizona Health Sciences community in the future," she said. “It will be a joy to work with faculty across all programs to infuse integrative nursing and integrative health into curriculum in a meaningful way.”

Dr Lacasse believes that the foundations of the nursing profession are rooted in an understanding of humans as integrated beings in body, mind, and spirit. Integrative nursing includes this understanding in assessment, intervention and outcome evaluation with individuals, families, and communities. Integrative nursing education views students as integrative beings and the education process should model care and compassion while teaching core nursing knowledge.

Referring to her experience as Faculty Lead for the INFF as well as a 2020 alumnus of the Fellowship, she says that both experiences taught her about the importance of preparing both entry and advanced level nurses as providers of care that embrace the body-mind-spirit and deliver evidence-informed care. “Nursing faculty for all levels of clinicians are role models for their students in living the essence of caring and compassion for individuals with whom they work,” she said. “Integrative nursing faculty focus on the overall well-being of their students. They guide and support them to achieve outcomes of becoming caring and compassionate nurses who use best evidence to promote wellbeing of the individuals across the health care continuum.”

UArizona Nursing has become a leader in integrative nursing education.  In addition to the BSN-IH program and the Anne Furrow Professor, the College’s commitment to integrative nursing continues to grow and flourish in other ways. Looking to the future, Dr. Sue Roe, Chair of the College Community Advisory Board, and her husband Bill have committed a legacy gift to endow a chair in integrative nursing. Dr. Roe has dedicated her career to promoting and advancing integrative/holistic nursing education and practice. “Becoming a nurse was my dream career as a child,” Dr. Roe said. “I knew then as I know now, after many years as a nurse, being mindful of body, mind, and spirit of self and others is essential to caring, compassion, and nursing excellence.”

With Dr. Lacasse in her new role and the support of incredible alumus like Dr. Roe, the future of integrative nursing in the College is in great hands.