UAFS Professor Named Nurse Educator of the Year

debbie koch

Debbie Koch

Debbie Koch of Greenwood, associate professor of nursing in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, was recently named the Nurse Educator of the Year by Publishing Concepts, Inc., publisher of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing Update magazine. 


Koch was chosen as the winner from 13 nominees from across the state. The award recognizes nursing educators who are a driving force in developing and supporting nursing careers. 


In Koch’s nomination letter, she was lauded as committed to the success of others.


“Dr. Koch goes above and beyond to lift up those around her through example and the gift of her time and talent,” the nomination letter stated. “She has the ability to understand the view and needs of others and offer support at the time of need. She seeks and implements new opportunities for learning, improvement, and the pursuit of excellence … Students and faculty members often describe her as committed to their success and always there for them when they need something … She is a light in the lamp of the nursing profession in Arkansas.”


Koch has worked in the nursing profession for more than 30 years, beginning as a staff nurse at Harbor View Psychiatric Hospital in Fort Smith before working at St. Edwards Mercy Hospital, now Mercy Hospital, for 13 years. In addition to teaching at UAFS, Koch also works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Perspectives Behavioral Health in Fort Smith. She came to UAFS in 2004 as a nursing instructor and was promoted to assistant professor in 2009.


Koch said she was “honored and excited” to receive the award.


“I am passionate about nursing, education and students. My job at UAFS allows me to practice and educate in the profession that has been a part of my life for 31 years,” Koch said. “Supporting, motivating, and encouraging students to achieve their career goals in the nursing profession is a very rewarding and exciting endeavor, and I am honored to have helped so many nurses achieve their dreams.”


Koch earned an associate degree in nursing from UAFS when it was Westark Community College, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Central Arkansas. Koch also holds two post-master’s certificates and a doctoral degree in nursing practice from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She is currently working on a research doctorate in nursing education from Capella University.


The College of Health Sciences at UAFS boasts some of the top educational programs in the state in the healthcare field, with degree offerings including nursing, radiography, sonography and dental hygiene. The college’s programs consistently place more than 85 percent of their graduates in jobs at hospitals locally, regionally, and nationally.


For more information about the nursing program, contact Lori Jones at 479-788-7841 or


Article by John Post, Director of Public Information
Date Posted: 
Friday, July 8, 2016
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