The Journal of Public Health Management and Practice has bestowed a big honor on Jaimee Watts, a doctoral nursing student at the University of NC at Greensboro (UNCG).

The prestigious publication named Watts one of 13 “Students Who Rocked Public Health” in 2019 for her work in helping the industry recruit and retain nurses.

According to information from the university’s website, the journal recognized Watts “for her collaboration with the North Carolina Division of Public Health on an extensive project to address issues involving the retention and recruitment of public health nurses in the state’s local health departments.”

Anyone who’s been in a meeting with Cone Health officials or other area medical caregivers in recent years has no doubt heard a great deal about the shortage of nurses and other medical providers nationwide. That makes recruitment and retention of medical professionals for hospitals and health departments one of the most important efforts those providers engage in.

According to the university’s website, Watts conducted a statewide survey of nurses that generated a wealth of information as to what they were looking for from employers.

In a profile of Watts on the university’s website, Watts explained what she sees as the importance of the work.

“Public health nurses are at the crux of improving the health and wellbeing of our state on multiple levels,” she said. “The clinical services they provide the individual, the programs and policies they develop that affect our communities, and the efforts they make to be informative and influential leaders involved in the nation’s conversation on social determinants of our health are just a few of the things public health nurses do every day. Our goal with this study is to improve and expand the public health nursing workforce in North Carolina, so they may continue to do this great and important work on our behalf.”

In that profile, Dr. Mollie Aleshire, program director and clinical associate professor in the UNCG School of Nursing, stated that Watt’s national recognition “as a student at the forefront of public health practice is well-deserved,” and also stated that her “inquisitive mind, passion, and persistence will no doubt positively influence the care of countless individuals in the healthcare arena via quality improvement, practice, policy change, and leadership.”