University of Nebraska Medical Center

Current Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Barbara Sittner

Barbara Sittner, PhD, RN, APRN-CNS, ANEF 

Diploma 1978 - Bryan School of Nursing 

BSN 1990 - UNMC Lincoln Division

MSN 1994 - UNMC Omaha Division

PhD 2002 - University of Nebraska Lincoln  

Career as a nurse for 45 years:

  • Oncology 1 year; 23 years in perinatal nursing; 21 years in nursing education.  
  • Following her BSN, she transitioned to a Labor & Delivery unit to cross-train nursing staff to circulate for cesarean births and was instrumental in training the first cohort of surgical technicians to work in the department at Bryan Health.  
  • Following her MSN, she developed a preadmission case management role for the perinatal department at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center and was a nurse case manager for the perinatal and pediatrics departments.  
  • Following her PhD, she began teaching in nursing programs, maternal-child and community health and this was a catalyst to integrate simulation into nursing education, research, and practice.  

Dr. Barbara Sittner recently retired as Director of the Simulation Center and Professor of Nursing at Bryan College of Health Sciences in Lincoln, Nebraska. For more than 20 years, Dr. Sittner has utilized evidence-based practice, standards and guidelines to design, implement, and evaluate outcomes of simulation as a teaching strategy. She has published simulation research studies, developed scenarios for publication, led faculty workshops, mentored nurse educators nationally and internationally on the use of simulation as a teaching strategy, and coordinated and taught an international online graduate simulation certificate program. In 2014, she was inducted as a Fellow into the National League for Nursing’s Academy of Nursing Education for sustained nursing contributions to the science of simulation. 

Dr. Sittner has served on the Editorial Board for Clinical Simulation in Nursing journal as well as a peer reviewer for nursing and medical journals. She has been an active member of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) serving as Chair of the Standards Committee where she led international teams of interdisciplinary simulation experts to publish the 2016 INACSL Standards of Best Practice: Simulation SM in 2016 and the first INACSL Standards of Best Practice: Simulation SM: Operations in 2017.  Dr. Sittner was an Associate Editor for the 1st Healthcare Simulation Dictionary TM that was a collaborative initiative between the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and simulation experts from several international organizations to create a document for consistent simulation terminology in healthcare.  

As Simulation Center Director for Bryan Health, Dr. Sittner has been instrumental in formalized simulation training for faculty, healthcare providers, and rural hospitals to integrate evidence-based practice and guidelines and standards for quality, safe patient care. Annually, Dr. Sittner and a team of interprofessional healthcare providers travel to rural Nebraska and Kansas hospitals to provide in situ simulation training on uncommon and unexpected obstetric and neonatal events that may be encountered.   

Dr. Sittner has a very supportive family. Her husband, Richard Sittner, is a retired computer systems administrator. They enjoy their acreage outside of Lincoln, Nebraska, vacationing, and attending family sporting events and activities. They have two married sons. Patrick and Melissa Sittner live in Bennington, Nebraska with their children Ian and Clara. Jacob and Kristi Sittner live outside of Lincoln, Nebraska with their sons Walter, Cliff, and Elliott. 

Dorothy Patach Spirit of Service Award

Marion Richmond

Marion A. Richmond

BSN 1971

Marion was raised on a farm in northeast Nebraska in a traditional home with both parents and one younger brother. She attended school in a rural one-room schoolhouse and graduated from high school in Pierce, NE. Her mother was a wonderful mentor who instilled a good work ethic.  

Being a typical farm kid, she loved animals and was always looking after small farm animals that needed healthcare, and there were many opportunities where she could serve.  

Her college years began at UNL for the first year in pre-nursing, and after acceptance to the University “School of Nursing,” as it was then known, she spent the next three years in Omaha meeting and becoming friends with like-minded future nurses. For most, nursing had been a dream for years, but it was a challenge they faced together with many study nights. Bonds were forged that remain strong after nearly 55 years. Working as a nursing assistant at both the VA and on the adolescent peds floor at UNMC before graduating was a gratifying experience.  

After taking boards in May 1971, she joined the Kearney Clinic, PC, an outpatient multispecialty clinic. She was drawn to the opportunity because the physician she worked with, Hiram R. Walker, MD, was a UNMC faculty member and Family Practice preceptor for medical students. She hoped he would be forward-thinking and was not disappointed. The Clinic encouraged her suggestion of offering Prepared Childbirth classes, and she was one of three nurses who designed the first curriculum. Lamaze classes followed a short time later. 

She was a member of the Kearney RN Journal Club, an informal gathering of nurses in the area who shared their perspectives on the future of nursing. The group became valuable for networking among hospitals, clinic, schools/colleges, care homes and correction facility nurses.  

Through many years at the Kearney Clinic, she assisted with organizing and scheduling staff to perform athletic physicals each fall. The Buffalo County Medical Society sponsored these at no charge, and it was an excellent community service with nurses from area clinics assisting. 

In 1992, she took on the position of Director of Nursing at the Clinic. She was a Central Community College Nursing Advisory Board member, and the Kearney Clinic allowed nursing students to observe outpatient care of mothers and children. The UNMC College of Nursing Kearney Division also had outpatient experience in the clinic, and she assumed the role of adjunct faculty for one year in the Maternal Child class mentoring them.  

She served on community boards as a nursing representative, including the Buffalo County Community Health Partners, strategic planning and training for biohazard response and the local Immunization Coalition – a group of private and public health nurses interested in healthy communities and improving health disparities. One summer, she served as a camp nurse for the local Girl Scout Chapter.  

After retiring in 2012, she has continued to work part-time with other retired pediatric and family practice nurses in the Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska Immunization Program, administering vaccinations to children and adults. She said being part of the COVID response team since 2021 has been eye-opening.  

She met her husband, Donald Richmond, at UNL during their first year, and they've been married for 52 years. He taught high school and coached for over 39 years. They have four children and seven grandchildren who are their joys. They have a wonderful church family at Zion Lutheran in Kearney, and she has served on the Board of Stewardship, and they both sing in the choir. She is also a member of the ladies’ group, LWML, and serves as their courtesy chairperson.  

Her hobbies include reading books of intrigue, snail-mail letter writing, for years–baking kolaches and giving them away to friends and family, and following the local music circuit with Don playing his own bluegrass and folk songs–where she is his biggest fan and roadie! They love to attend their grandchildren’s music, sports, and school events and enjoy taking them fishing, boating and camping whenever possible.  

She said she has been fortunate to work with many hardworking and dedicated people throughout her life who were role models and influenced her to find a way to help others and that she has been very blessed. 

Nursing Excellence Award

Majeda El-Banna

Majeda M. El-Banna, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF

BSN 1992 - The University of Jordan

MSN 1998 - The University of Jordan

PhD 2004 - UNMC

Dr. El-Banna is a Tenured Associate Professor and is the inaugural Vice Dean of The George Washington University School of Nursing (GWU SON). She held various leadership roles at GWU SON including, the RN to MSN tracks director, the interim Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and the Chair of the Acute and Chronic Care Faculty Community. Before joining GWU, Dr. El-Banna held senior leadership positions, including serving as the School of Nursing Dean and Head of the Adult Health Nursing Department, at the Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan and the Secretary General for the Scientific Association of Arab Nursing Colleges in the Association of Arab Universities. Her distinguished leadership was acknowledged by receiving the Women Leaders in Academia Award at Jordanian Universities.

Dr. El-Banna is an outstanding leader, teacher, and scholar. Her contributions to nursing education research have transformed and advanced the nursing discipline. She improves the preparation of nursing graduates and advances the science of nursing education by generating evidence on (a) creating innovative and connected learning environments for students; (b) using emerging technologies to generate evidence on best practices in teaching and learning; (c) empowering the next generation of practitioners, academic leaders and researchers; and (d) leading national efforts toward transforming education. Moreover, her work provides evidence for faculty across the country and globe engaged in improving learning environments and curricula for nursing students.

Her leadership and research to advance nursing education and enhance student outcomes are focused on the development, improvement, and implementation of innovative teaching pedagogies through evidence-based research. Her sustained contribution is shifting the classroom environment from teacher-driven to student-centered learning by using pedagogical models that require higher-order reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Her education research has been funded by the school, university, and foundations.  Her unique scholarly contribution to nursing education is well-recognized, nationally, and internationally.

Dr. El-Banna is an American Nurse Educator Fellow (ANEF) and a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE). She is a Subject Matter Expert Reviewer for the Quality Matters program. Dr. El-Banna has received the GWU Bender Teaching Award, the GWU SON Graduate Award, and recently the GWU SON Faculty Mentoring Award. Dr. El-Banna serves on committees of several professional organizations, including the American Nurses Association, Eastern Nursing Research Society, Washington Regional Nursing Research Consortium, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and the National League of Nursing (NLN). She was elected by popular vote as a Governor-At-Large for the NLN, 2021-2024.