University of Hawaii

MMS Faculty

Valisa Saunders MN, APRN, GNP-BC

Valisa Saunders is a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner and works at Leahi and Maluhia Long Term Care Hospitals on O‘ahu as a clinician and educator. She is an Instructor for the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (UHMSONDH) and adjunct faculty for the John A Burns School of Medicine, Department of Geriatric Medicine. In 2008, she received the Clinician of the Year Award from the American Geriatrics Society and was the first non-physician to receive that honor.

Ms. Saunders earned her master's degree in nursing from the UCLA School of Nursing in 1983 and moved to Hawai‘i in 1984 as the first Masters-prepared Geriatric Nurse Practitioner in the state. She worked at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific for two years as a manager before joining Kaiser Permanente where she spent the next 25 years in geriatric care and program development. There, among other programs, she started the first Nurse Practitioner-Physician Nursing Home team rounding service in the state of Hawai‘i. She was also involved in developing their primary care geriatrics outpatient clinic service and home visit program. At the Long Term Care Facilities operated by Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation on O‘ahu, Ms. Saunders is involved in teaching Nurse Practitioner Students from the UHMSON in the field and the classroom. She is also involved in direct patient care with the interdisciplinary team and provides geriatric consultation on a variety of conditions and palliative care.

Outside of work, Valisa provides lectures to community groups on geriatric topics and is a member of the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) subcommittee for the Hawai‘i State Center For Nursing. She has been involved in nursing regulatory matters since 1985 and served on the Hawai‘i State Board of Nursing as a member and President for 6 years, and is a former president of the Hawai‘i Nurses' Association.

Her secret to healthy aging is her passion for open ocean swimming with the Waikiki Swim Club and she enjoys underwater photography. She has been a resident of Hawai‘i with her husband for 30 years and has a 21 year old son at American University in Washington DC who also enjoys swimming.

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