Summer has always been a slower time on the University of Florida campus. Many students are home taking a break from classes or gaining professional experience. Our faculty and staff are catching their breath between the busy fall and spring semesters. I hope all of you have been able to take advantage of the lazy days of summer and recharge.
I was able to breathe a sigh of relief at the beginning of summer when we were officially notified that our BSN and DNP programs received 10-year reaccreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Anyone in academia understands and respects the commitment that it takes to be accredited. I am so grateful for the faculty, staff, students, alumni and our clinical partners who all play a part in the success of our programs. We can all take a short break before we start preparing for the next project.
One person who certainly deserves a little downtime is someone who is considered a legend among our Gator Nursing alumni. After a distinguished 31year career as a clinical assistant professor at the UF College of Nursing, the one and only David Derrico retired at the end of the spring semester. Prof. Derrico is affectionately known by THOUSANDS of Gator Nurses as being the educator who simplified difficult concepts through catchy phrases and devoted individualized time to ensure students in clinical were successful inpatient care. When we announced his retirement in May, former students from throughout the decades lauded his influence on their education and careers.
It is only fitting that we devote this issue’s cover story of The Gator Nurse to Prof. Derrico and formally thank him for his many years of impactful service at the College of Nursing. I hope you will all enjoy learning about his background and many accomplishments as a favorite nursing instructor.
Simulation and skills are areas where many nursing students are able to practice and prepare to implement what they have learned into the clinical environment. We are fortunate to have opened the completely renovated Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab in January 2021. To find out how the new lab has impacted our students over the last year-and-a-half, check out the story here.
This issue also features the accomplishments of several of our Gator Nursing alumni. Take a look at the article on four Gator Nurses who continued their education to become attorneys. We always say “Gator Nurses can do anything,” and this is just one example of that. I also enjoyed celebrating Pascale Belony, who was named a 40 Gator Under 40, and Larry Siegel (BSN 2001, MSN 2008), who was honored as a Gator100 this spring.
As we enjoy brighter days, I am looking forward to connecting with all of you again. Our first in-person alumni event was a smashing success as we celebrated Nurses Week with a Gator Nurse Gathering in Gainesville. Look for more of these regional events to connect with fellow Gator Nurses near you. And I hope you will all join us for our famous reunion tailgate on Sept. 10 when the Gators take on Kentucky. I am anxious to see how our Gators do with our new coach Billy Napier. Join me at our reunion tailgate so we can cheer them on together!
Anna M. McDaniel
Dean and the Linda Harman Aiken Chair