When I began my career as a nurse in 1987, serving in the United States Army Nurse Corps, I had no idea I would one day become a DNP-prepared nurse educator. I began teaching nursing in 2001 and have taught nurses at the level of licensed practical nurse, associate degree, traditional BSN-prepared nurse, and second-degree BSN. When the RN to BSN program expanded to Northern Virginia in the fall of 2021, I began teaching the RN-to-BSN students at the University of Virginia School of Nursing.

My teaching philosophy focuses on building a supportive relationship between learner and educator, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of learners, building on their strengths, and supporting them in overcoming weaknesses and other barriers to their learning. As an educator, I guide and mediate student learning based on their unique needs. I provide accurate information and challenge students to think more critically or through a different perspective as they try to find meaning and application to the content. I am passionate about creating a course curriculum and content that respects the learner. Respect for the learner creates an environment of trust and collaboration. Nursing education should address the needs of the healthcare arena and the learners. To do this,, I must remain aware of current trends or issues, such as the pandemic, its impact on healthcare, and the needs of my learners. My role as an educator is in service to the learner, the profession, and our next generation of nurses, as I provide information, experience, respect, and trust to lead the learner to growth and development in the profession.


  • Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE)

Recent Grants

  • Course Enrichment Grant, offered by the University of Virginia Library System to develop a class assignment focused on identifying and applying information technology and resources to support clinical decision-making and evidence-based practice.
  • The Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA). Selected to participate in a week-long "book sprint" to coauthor an Open Educational Resource textbook for Community Health Nursing.

Clinical Focus

Transition to practice and pediatrics

Teaching Focus

RN to BSN students, teaching across the curriculum


  • School of Nursing BSN committee (2022-present)
  • School of Nursing nominations committee (2021-present)
  • Virginia Medical Reserve Corps volunteer (2020-present)


Journal Articles

Wiersma, G. M., Cox, C. W., McNelis, A. M., Tebbenhoff, B., Schumann, M. J., & Maring, J. (2022). Learning impact of armed forces medical background on military nursing students in an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program. Nursing in Education Perspectives, 43(6), 372-374.

Cox, C., & Wiersma, G. (2022). A veterans' bachelor of science in nursing initiative: Ten valuable tips. Nursing Education Perspectives, 43(3), 198-200.

Jeffries, P., Cox, C., Dawn, K., Drenkard, K., Slaven-Lee, P., Tanner, J., & Wiersma, G. (2021). Obtaining clinical hours for students during the pandemic: Creative solutions. Virginia Nurses Today, 29(1), 1-21.

Wiersma, G., Cox, C. W., McNelis, A. M., Schumann, M. J., & Maring, J. (2021). Faculty perceptions in facilitating success for accelerated BSN student veterans. Nursing Education Perspectives, 42(3), 165-167.

Wiersma, G., & Hagler, D. (2021). Supporting clinical adjunct faculty to develop educator competencies. Nurse Educator, 46(5), 305.

Cox, C., Wiersma, G., McNelis, A.M., & Beebe, S. (2021). Facilitators and challenges to military undergraduate nursing student success. Journal of Professional Nursing, 37(6), 1057-1062.

Cox, C. W., Wiersma, G. M., & McNelis, A. M. (2020). Military nursing: A primer for new recruits. Nursing, 50(11), 56-59.

Wiersma, G., Pintz, C., & Wyche K. F. (2020). Transition to practice experiences of new graduate nurses from an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program: Implications for academic clinical partners. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 51(9), 433-440.