3 chosen as UAB VIPs for second-quarter 2024

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by Brooke Carbo and Nicole Strickland

Nominations for third-quarter 2024 honorees are open through July 11, 2024; submit a nomination online.John Huffstutler, business officer II in the School of Nursing’s Technology and Innovation department; Nancy Parsons, administrative projects specialist for the School of Dentistry’s Department of Clinical and Community Sciences; and Angel Simmons, clinical lab supervisor for the Heersink School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, are the second-quarter 2024 honorees for the UAB Values in Action Program. The UAB VIP Awards honor employees whose work exemplifies and embodies one or more of the UAB Shared Values: We CARE — Collaborate, Act with Integrity, Respect All and Excel. All three honorees have made a lasting impact on the fabric and culture of UAB by exemplifying the university’s shared values.

Honorees are nominated by their colleagues and selected by a committee of individuals from across the campus and UAB Hospital. Nominations for third-quarter 2024 honorees are open through July 11, 2024; submit a nomination online. One of the 2024 VIP honorees will be selected for the annual President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values.

John Huffstutler

erep huffstutler 400pxJohn Huffstutler has proven himself a critical member of the School of Nursing’s Technology and Innovation team. In his role as a business officer, Huffstutler manages projects for his team and is lauded by his colleagues for his hard work, integrity, collaborative approach and dedication to excellence.

“One of John’s most remarkable qualities is his ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to complex problems,” said Penni Isla Watts, Ph.D., assistant dean for clinical simulation and training. “His strategic thinking and creative approach have resulted in the successful implementation of numerous projects, which have greatly benefited the UAB School of Nursing.”

In addition to his responsibilities as the business officer, Huffstutler fills in for simulation experiences, orders supplies and equipment, and leads the OTI team by ensuring communication channels are in place and supporting each OTI team member with their daily work. He also serves as assistant director for the SON’s live show-turned-podcast, “Clinical Pearls,” a transition he was instrumental in making a success, according to Associate Adjunct Professor Nancy Wingo, Ph.D.

“I have hired, managed and engaged with various employees in support roles during the last 16 years, and I can honestly say that John is the steadiest, most dependable employee I have ever met,” said Wingo. “He has a calm and efficient approach to daily tasks, yet he sees the big picture to ensure that we achieve our mission.”

Huffstutler is known for his integrity — “whether anyone is watching or not,” said Director of Instructional Technology Matthew Jennings. “John’s commitment to doing what’s right is unwavering.”

Watts credits his collaborative approach and leadership skills to many of his team’s successes.

“John works quietly in the wings to make sure each team member is supported and has exactly what they need to do their work,” Watts said. “It’s not often exciting or easy to keep a busy unit moving, but our projects would not grow and flourish without his dedication and diligence.”

Nancy Parsons

erep nancy parsons 400pxNancy Parsons joined the Department of Clinical and Community Sciences in the School of Dentistry in 2011 and quickly became an integral part of the team. As administrative projects specialist, she handles a wide array of financial, personnel, budgetary and general administrative functions for her department, as well as providing support for the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.

Parsons’ colleagues note her collaborative nature and willingness to help wherever she is needed.

“Despite her incredibly busy workload, she is always quick to step up for the greater good,” said Lynne Jarreau, director of communications for the School of Dentistry. That includes leading the SOD Staff Council and helping with events like the Dental Hygiene Symposium, SOD Alumni Weekend and UAB Dentistry Community Cares Day, to name a few.

“Beyond her core duties, Nancy coordinates events seamlessly, and provides invaluable support to

faculty and staff members,” said Professor Joana Cunha-Cruz, DDS, Ph.D. “Her dedication allows our department to function smoothly and efficiently.”

Cunha-Cruz also praises Parsons’s teamwork saying, “she readily shares information, assists colleagues with their tasks, and fosters a collaborative environment that improves overall departmental efficiency.”

That is a sentiment shared by many of Parsons’ colleagues, including Clinical Research Administrator Brittni Ball, who said, “Her willingness to help, regardless of her own workload, truly embodies the spirit of collaboration.”

Parsons “takes personal responsibility for the quality of her work and looks ahead to foresee potential problems or issues so she can either prevent them when possible or manage them as needed,” said Associate Professor Carly McKenzie, Ph.D. “She is an asset to our department, school and institution.”

Angel Simmons

erep angel simmons 400pxClinical Lab Supervisor Angel Simmons spends her days helping colleagues and patients achieve their best outcomes in the School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“Angel truly lives up to her name,” said Assistant Professor Fedora Biney, Ph.D. “She has been a dependable rock throughout a long haul of staffing shortages that have impacted our clinic. We value and see her sacrifices.”

Simmons drive for excellence and inclusiveness often result in successful innovations in her department. Associate Professor Casey Azuero, Ph.D., described one such innovation that sprang from Simmons assisting the department’s patient encounter coordinator.

“Angel is often there to assist her in reaching out to patients and ensuring their questions are answered and needs are met in overcoming barriers to coming into the clinic,” Azuero said. “To improve show rates, she trialed the use of Google Voice on her device to text patients to see if those that were not answering the phone for their reminder calls might be responsive to this form of interaction. Through the success she demonstrated with this method, we now utilize a UAB device for this function.”

Azuero also explained that Parsons helped develop a virtual protocol for the neuropsychologists’ patients during the initial months of COVID to minimize operational disruption. Not only was it a success, but it wound up having a secondary benefit, and is still used today for individuals with disabilities and those with transportation barriers.

Associate Professor of Medicine Sean Hollis, Ph.D., calls Simmons “the glue that makes our clinic services run” and praises her effect on those she interacts with.

“She is frequently a bright spot for our patients, with numerous patients going out of their way to comment on how positive their experience with her was and how comfortable she made them feel throughout a process that can be stressful and overwhelming,” said Hollis.

“Angel takes the whole person into account,” added Azuero. “Her gentle assertion of boundaries limits (what could be) a shameful experience for the patient and allows them to successfully complete the testing they need to learn about their current cognitive status, abilities and overall brain recovery.”