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Johnna T. French, BSN, CLC, has been named the 2017 Distinguished Alumna for the University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing. French graduated from UW's online RN-BSN Completion Program in 2011. She is currently a Maternal Child Home Visiting Nurse with Albany County Public Health in Laramie, Wyoming. Her nominators recommended her for the award based on her work in and passion for Public Health Nursing and her outstanding involvement and contributions to the community. The Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing will present the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award to French on Friday, October 27, 2017 at the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences Distinguished Alumni Reception.
After earning an Associate of Arts in Nursing in ’93 in South Dakota, French worked as an office nurse at Laramie’s Spring Creek Family Medicine. UW nursing faculty Dr. Ann Marie Hart was an FNP student during that time when she first met French: “I was extremely impressed with Johnna as a primary care nurse,” says Hart. “She functioned very autonomously and was respected by patients and physicians as an innovative nurse in a primary care practice—ahead of her time, as the profession now promotes an expanded role for the RN in primary care.”
French then took on a variety of nurse positions (from head office nurse to a fertility center IVF Coordinator) across three states (Idaho, Tennessee, Wyoming)—while enrolled in UW’s online (and portable!) RN-BSN Completion Program. She graduated in 2011 with her BSN while working for Family Physicians of Laramie.
Passion for Public Health Nursing
After completing her degree, French found her nursing niche as Maternal Child Home Visiting Nurse with Albany County Public Health. Her exuberance and love for public health nursing helps recruit young nurses into the field. “French’s passion for public health nursing permeates those around her,” says Nursing Associate Dean Susan Steiner. “She shares that passion with UW nursing students both as preceptor and in mentoring sessions.”
In 2012, the school began “Speed Mentoring” sessions. Alumni shared careers with students in rotational, timed formats. French--one of the first alumni volunteers--helped populate every mentoring panel, recruiting many students into her beloved public health profession.
French’s passion for community is evident in both practice and personal life,” says Steiner. “As a member of Zonta (global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy), she continually works to better the community.” French also served as Laramie’s Breastfeeding Coalition Director, Head Start Advisory Board member, and lactation counselor.
French’s concern for community extends to her college community, serving as a UW nursing school capstone preceptor. She also took on the vice-presidency for the inaugural board of the UW Alumni Association Nursing Chapter (UWAANC), staffed nursing alumni tables at Homecoming Open House and UW Nursing Career Fair events, and spoke to graduating students to encourage membership in UWAANC. As French stepped off the board, she mentored one of her public health nurses into her VP office, continuing to role model in all she does.