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Local Optometrist Receives Peter K. Simpson Advanced Practice Nursing Fan Award

May 5, 2017
woman supervising another woman using equipment to examine a third woman's eyes
Sue Lowe, middle, works with UW nursing practitioner student Laura Evans, left, and Ann Marie Hart, director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, at Lowe’s optometry clinic. Lowe recently received the Peter K. Simpson Advanced Practice Nursing Fan Award. (UW Photo)

Sue Lowe, an optometrist at Snowy Range Vision Center in Laramie, is the recipient of the 2017 Peter K. Simpson Advanced Practice Nursing Fan Award.

The University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing presented the award to Lowe in April at the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program's annual Willow Ceremony, an event that encourages DNP students as they progress in their program of study. The award honors an individual who is not an advanced practice nurse, but who shares Simpson’s admiration and respect for such. 

Lowe has been supporting advanced practice nurses since the 1980s, when she first formed a relationship with the School of Nursing to help teach vision and eye health to nurse practitioner (NP) students.

"It has been extremely rewarding and beneficial for me professionally and personally to have been involved with the advanced practice nurses over the years," says Lowe, who came on board as an adjunct faculty member and taught ocular disease and vision testing when the school's namesake, Fay W. Whitney, directed the Family Nurse Practitioner program. "Dr. Whitney was a true inspiration to me and has been a visionary mentor to the Advanced Practice Nursing students at UW."

"Although we don’t know the exact year that Sue first started teaching for the NP program, we know that she has been doing this for at least 30 years,” says DNP Program Director Ann Marie Hart. “And, we suspect that most, if not all, graduates from our NP program have been taught by Dr. Lowe."

Every year, Lowe has worked with her colleagues from Snowy Range Vision Center to host a vision night for UW NP students. The future nurse practitioners receive intense, hands-on instruction on vision and eye exam techniques. Lowe also provides guest lectures for NP students on a variety of eye and vision topics, and also provides guidance to the nursing faculty on eye and vision health curricula.

"Although Dr. Lowe has provided hundreds of teaching hours to our NP program and its students, she is not receiving this award due to her impressive track record,” Hart says. “Rather, Dr. Lowe is receiving this award because of her decades-long enthusiasm and support for advanced practice nurses, especially NPs. Dr. Lowe respects the work of NPs. She values what NPs do and does not see them as inferior health care providers. She advocates for expanded NP roles and is always complimentary of their role."

Lowe continues her praise of UW nursing faculty teaching in the DNP Program, who she says continue to exemplify, lead and educate in advanced interprofessional health care.

“They provide guidance to promote and preserve the health and well-being of our patients," she says.

Lowe predicts that "it will continue to require DNPs to work collaboratively with all disciplines to achieve the desired patient outcomes. This will always include advocating health and welfare policies for the benefit of individuals and their communities.

"You as DNPs will continue to improve and save lives," she says. "You did mine."

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