SCHEDULED DOWN TIME: Sunday, April 30th, from 12:00 am to 4:00 am EST (4 hours) for server software maintenance. During this time the website will be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience (posted 04/27/2017)

Regional RISE Center

Shining New Light on the Value of Simulation


RISE Center Staff

Dr. S. Kardong-Edgren
RISE Center Director
412-397-3534 (office)

Dr. Edgren joins us from Boise State University where she served as the Jody DeMeyer Endowed Chair in Nursing fostering nursing research.  She earned her BSN from the University of Nevada, her MS and PhD from Texas Women's University and has over 21 years of teaching experience. Dr. Kardong-Edgren is currently serving as project director for a nationally funded study on the use of a fighter pilot algorithm to maintain CPR skills, funded by the National League for Nursing (NLN), the American Heart Association, and the Laerdal Corporation. She is a member of the Blackman Collaborative with six medical and nursing programs worldwide that test the concept of massive data collection on standardized simulation to test the possibility of competency testing across disciplines. As a result of her work, RMU will now become a member of this collaborative. Dr. Edgren has received the Excellence in Educational Research and the prestigious Debra Spunt Endowed Lectureship in Simulation from the NLN. Dr. Edgren served as  a consultant on the just completed landmark NCSBN National Simulation Study evaluating varying levels of simulation substitution for traditional clinical hours. She is Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Simulation in Nursing, the INACSL association journal, published by Elsevier and serves as the Vice President for Research for the INACSL organization. Dr. Edgren also is serving for two years as a STTI National Faculty Mentor.

Valerie M. Howard EdD, RNVal Howard

Dean, School of Nursing and Health Sciences
University Professor
412-397-6801 (office) 

Dr. Valerie Howard is Acting Dean and a professor of nursing for Robert Morris University's School of Nursing and Health Sciences. She is also the founder and director of RMU's Regional Research and Innovation in Simulation Education (RISE) Center and past-President of the International Nursing Association of Clinical Simulation in Nursing (INACSL), from which she received an Excellence Award in Research in 2010. She also served as a team member for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant funding and RAVEN CMS funded initiative.

Dr. Howard has over 17 years of experience in higher education, with the past nine years dedicated to researching, developing and implementing simulation experiences across the curriculum. Since 2004 she has been responsible for integrating academically sound simulation experiences for undergraduate and graduate students at RMU. In addition to supervising the expansion and accreditation of the RMU Simulation Lab into the RISE Center, she also created and implemented the Leadership in Simulation Instruction and Management online certificate program to assist with integrating this complex training methodology. Dr. Howard is a national and international resource for simulation, serving on the Scientific Counsel for the Certificate of Simulation in Advanced for the College of Health and Applied Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland; the Global Network for Simulation in Healthcare, and an accreditation site visitor for the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.

During her time at RMU, she has played an integral part in the development and success of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and has also served the university in other initiatives as well. Working in tandem with RMU's Office of Institutional Advancement, she played an integral part in helping to raise over $6M for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. She also served as academic department head of nursing, where she developed a faculty orientation program, set standards for clinical and classroom education, and monitored program evaluation and outcomes. As a co-leader of RMU's Academic Integrity Committee, she helped develop the university's first Academic Integrity Policy. She also co-led the Standard on Integrity for RMU's Middle States Self-Study Report.

Dr. Howard earned a BSN from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MSN and Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include the use of simulation, inter-professional teamwork training, and technology in education, specifically related to participant learning outcomes. Her most cited study on this topic is entitled, "Human Patient Simulators and Interactive Case Studies—A Comparative Analysis of Learning Outcomes and Student Perceptions" (CIN, 2010). Other notable collaborative publications include: “Faculty Mentoring Programs: Re-envisioning rather than reinventing the wheel. (Review of Educational Research, 2008); "Communication and Human Patient Simulation in Psychiatric Nursing" (Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 2009); “Simulation-Based Team Training in Healthcare” (Simulation and Healthcare, 2011); "Integration of Simulation Across the Curriculum: Student and Faculty Perspectives" (Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 2010). She is co-Author of the original Elsevier Simulation Learning System Product and has presented nationally and internationally on such topics as simulation, electronic health records, and online learning at conferences held by Sigma Theta Tau, AACN, INACSL, SSH, Mosby, Contemporary Forums, and Emerging Technologies.

Dr. Howard is also a master trainer for the TeamSTEPPS© evidence-based teamwork training system developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Department of Defense, which are incorporated throughout all undergraduate and graduate simulation experiences. She also developed the STRIVE Model© to assist faculty with the implementation and expansion of simulation services in their respective institutions.

Dr. Howard first found her passion for nursing when she began working in the emergency department at a Level I Trauma Center at Presbyterian University Hospital in Pittsburgh. There she cared for critically ill patients and their families, intervening during a time of crisis, and working as a high performing team member to stabilize their condition. Fueled by this passion, she is dedicated to preparing the next generation of healthcare workers to provide the highest quality of care and leading academic efforts among the RMU faculty. She believes that high quality academic and clinical experiences incorporating teamwork principles for our future healthcare workers translates to improved patient outcomes and enhanced patient safety.

Dr. Howard and her husband, Matthew, live in Peter's Township and have four college-age children. A native of Philipsburg, Pa., she is also a talented vocalist and devoted fan of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.


Janice Sarasnick, PhD(c), RN, MSN, CHSE, CHSOSJanice Sarasnick
Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing
Simulation Faculty/Coordinator
412-397-5299 (office)

Janice Sarasnick is an Assistant Clinical Nursing Professor and the Simulation Faculty here at Robert Morris University. Her education background includes graduating from Shadyside School of Nursing(’96), BSN at the University of Pittsburgh (’01), MSN at RMU (’09), and she is currently enrolled in RMU’s Instructional Management and Leadership PhD program. Her research topics of interest include the use of deliberate practice and mastery learning while using simulation as an instructional methodology and investigating the impact simulation and case studies have on student knowledge.

In 2010 Janice became a master Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) trainer. TeamSTEPPS in threaded throughout the nursing curriculum and used to help students learn to communicate more effectively with healthcare professionals, patients, and family members to ensure better patient outcomes. She is also a certified American Heart Association instructor in basic life support (BLS), Advance Life Saving Courses (ACLS) and Pediatric Advance Life Savings (PALS), and brings to the education process many years experience in critical care, medical surgical, and emergency room nursing.

Chuck Simon
Chuck Simon
Simulation Technician
412-397-6216 (office)

Following graduation from West Allegheny High School, Chuck Simon, Simulation Lab Technician, initially studied Business Administration at Clarion University, but quickly transferred into the Arts and Education as a major. After college, Chuck moved into a career as a musician and eventually formed Chuck Simon Pro Sound, a company providing live sound reinforcement for bands, festivals and corporate events. He also worked for seven years in the field of technical sales providing professional video, photographic and multi-media equipment and support for schools, hospitals, and businesses in the Pittsburgh area. After a brief return to school to study Computer and Information Technology at Community College, Chuck was employed for the last 13 years in the field of desk side support for the IT Department at Robert Morris University.

As well and continuing to work in the field of music and live sound, Chuck is happy to be involved in the world of Human Patient Simulation and looks forward to an exciting and challenging future in that ever changing field.

Jan Barber, RN, MSN
RISE Center Operations Manager
Educational Planner
Manager, Standardized Patient Program

Operations Manager, Education Planner, Jan Barber, has over 32 years of nursing experience in various professional roles. Most recently she has served as clinical instructor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, and Robert Morris University, teaching Foundations and Med/Surg.  This included the opportunity to assist in simulation experiences both at the WISER Center in Oakland, and RMU's Regional RISE Center.  Her direct patient care experience includes trauma orthopedics, reconstructive plastic surgery, and urology at Hermann Hospital in Houston Texas and at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jan served as an Advanced RN in Allegheny General's orthopedic clinic, as well as Assistant Clinical Supervisor and Clinical Education Specialist as a unit-based CNS, all at AGH.  As a CNS, Jan worked with her peers in a major LPN role advancement project, published the results of that project and was invited to speak at an LPN international conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Jan trained at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing (BSN, 1982), and La Roche College (MSN, Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist, 1997). Additionally, Jan has training and experience as a Life Coach through The Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, California. Combining coaching and healthcare, she worked with Grane Physical Therapy services and Somerset Hospital's nurse managers to provide group and individual coaching for group dynamics, professional and personal development. Joining the RISE Center team in the spring of 2013, Jan is thrilled be a part of the RMU's Regional RISE Center, working with faculty, staff, lab assistants and standardized patients.

Dr. Donna McDermott, PhD, RN, MSN, CHSE
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Department Head for the School of Nursing
Faculty, Low-Fidelity Skills Lab and High Fidelity Simulation

Donna has over 20 years clinical nursing experience in medical surgical and critical care nursing. She is CPR and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certified. During her graduate studies and employment at RMU, she began working at the RMU RISE Center under Dr. Valerie Howard, where she developed and initiated several simulation scenarios including a simulation for clinical nurse educator training at the bedside. She has developed and initiated simulation scenarios across the curriculum in undergraduate psychiatric care of clients, undergraduate community/hospice care, and nuclear medicine ECG and IV training. She has facilitated and debriefed simulation scenarios in all areas of undergraduate nursing including advanced care of adult medical surgical patients, care of both pediatric and obstetric patients, as well as simulations for doctoral nurse practitioner students. She has developed and participated in multidisciplinary simulations for nuclear medicine students, graduate education students, and training for medical residents.  Additionally, Donna is experienced in standardized patient script and checklist writing as well as standardized patient training.

Denise R. Ramponi, DNP, NP-BC, FAEN

Doctorate of Nursing Practice Simulation Coordinator
Family/Adult Gero Nurse Practitioner Coordinator, Assistant Professor of Nursing

Dr. Denise Ramponi, DNP Simulation Coordinator, Family/Adult Gero Nurse Practitioner Coordinator, Assistant Professor of Nursing in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Robert Morris University has over 25 years of experience as a Nurse Practitioner.  She is a graduate of LaRoche College (BSN), Duquesne University (MSN), and Waynesburg University (DNP).  She has presented professional clinical presentations for the past 20 years at a variety of state, regional and national conferences including Emergency Nurses Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Practitioner Association of Continuing Education.  She has incorporated low and high fidelity simulations in the doctorate of nursing practice curriculum including clinical diagnostics and diagnosis and management of the adult patient courses.  Dr. Ramponi’s clinical expertise is in advanced emergency nursing practice and she has published numerous articles on a variety of emergency topics.  She is the Imaging Column Editor for the Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal.  She is a Fellow in the Academy of Emergency Nursing and a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.  She is an active member of the Emergency Nurses Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners. 


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