UH Mānoa School of Nursing Receives National Innovation Award

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The `IKE AO PONO program at UH Mānoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH) is the recipient of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award to be presented during the semi-annual AACN meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday, November 1.

The awards program recognizes the outstanding work of AACN member schools to reenvision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change. Innovation awards, including a monetary prize of $1,000, are given annually. UH Manoa Nursing was selected in the institutional category of public school without an academic health center.


“It is a tremendous honor for a pioneering program like `IKE AO PONO to receive this distinguished award,” said SONDH Dean Mary Boland. “`IKE AO PONO strives to increase awareness and provide opportunities in the health-care environment to students who are of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander heritage.”

Created in 2004, `IKE AO PONO fosters interest in nursing as a career option. Once a student enrolls, the program assists through a variety of approaches targeted to ensure student success. Program Director Nalani Minton utilizes outreach though radio and media to build awareness in the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities about nursing as a viable career choice.

At the core of the program is `IKE AO PONO’s unique Hawaiian approach to wellness. “Part of our innovative educational approach includes cultural values, community service, and an emphasis in public health and community health nursing combined with nurse practitioner specialties,” said Minton.

Through community service, students spend time tending the lo`i, participating in internships focused on serving Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander populations and communities, and learning about traditional healing practices. The primary purposes of `IKE AO PONO are to improve the health of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders through culturally sensitive care, increase the number of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders health professionals, and to provide inspiration to younger generations of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders in the form of positive role models.

Added Minton, “In just six years, 100 native nurses graduated and more than 100 are currently enrolled breaking through a century of barriers in health and health-care access for native people. Increasing the numbers of native nurses in the workforce and UH faculty contributes to improvements in health and health care in Hawai’i, and is a model for other communities as a basis for both recovery and well-being.”

SONDH is at the forefront of health professionals’ education offering innovative programs enhanced by simulation technology and web-based education, with rich clinical experiences, cooperative internships, and interdisciplinary study opportunities. UH Manoa Nursing is committed to addressing the nursing shortage while contributing to advancing the discipline and science of nursing.

To learn more, see www.nursing.hawaii.edu. The University of Hawai`i at Mānoa serves approximately 20,000 students pursuing more than 225 different degrees. Coming from every Hawaiian island, every state in the nation, and more than 100 countries, UH Mānoa students matriculate in an enriching environment for the global exchange of ideas. For more information, visit https://manoa.hawaii.edu.