Professional News

UK College of Nursing’s Zim Okoli to be Inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing

Okoli is the director of the Behavioral Health and Wellness Environments for Living and Learning. He was inducted based on his contributions and impact to advance the public’s health.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 10, 2021) — The University of Kentucky College of Nursing announces that Chizimuzo “Zim” Okoli, Ph.D., has been selected to be a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Okoli is a professor at the UK College of Nursing, director of the Behavioral Health and Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BHWELL), and director of behavioral health research and evidence-based practice at Eastern State Hospital. 

Induction into the academy is a significant milestone in a nurse leader’s career in which their accomplishments are honored by their colleagues within and outside the profession. Fellows are selected based on their contributions and impact to advance the public’s health.

“I am proud the academy is recognizing Dr. Okoli as being amongst the nation's foremost thought leaders in health care," said Janie Heath, UK College of Nursing dean and Warwick Professor of Nursing. "Dr. Okoli has dedicated his esteemed career to mental and behavioral health treatment through both practice and research — making great strides in improving access and care for those struggling with psychological distress, as well as tobacco dependence. He represents the best-of-the-best in nursing and carries on a tradition of excellence at the UK College of Nursing.”

The academy is an honorific society that recognizes nursing's most accomplished leaders in policy, research, practice, administration, and academia. Academy fellows, from nearly 40 countries, hold a wide variety of roles influencing health care. Induction into the fellowship represents more than recognition of one's accomplishments within the nursing profession. Fellows contribute their collective expertise to the academy, engaging with health leaders nationally and globally to improve health and achieve health equity by impacting policy through nursing leadership, innovation, and science.  

“I am so grateful and humble to be joining this group of exemplary nurse leaders from across the nation,” Okoli said. “I am extremely passionate about advancing nursing practice and research in the areas of mental and behavioral health, and I anticipate that this honor will lead to more academic and research collaborations to improve the public’s perception of and engagement in mental health care. Thank you to the academy for this prestigious recognition and for supporting nurses in diverse fields and backgrounds across the nation.”

Okoli received his undergraduate degrees in nursing and philosophy from the University of Kentucky. He subsequently earned a master's degree in public health, master's degree in nursing, and in 2005, his doctorate in nursing, all from UK. In 2008, he completed a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) postdoctoral traineeship in tobacco research at the University of British Columbia. In 2010, he further completed a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship in gender, mental health and addictions through the University of British Columbia.

Through a competitive, rigorous application process, the Academy’s Fellow Selection Committee, which comprises current fellows, reviewed hundreds of applications to select the 2021 Fellows. Okoli was one of 225 individuals selected to be inducted into the 2021 Class of Fellows. The 2021 Fellows represent 38 states, the District of Columbia, and 18 countries.

The 2021 inductees will be recognized for their significant contributions to health and health care at the academy’s annual Health Policy Conference, taking place Oct. 7-9, 2021. This year’s conference and induction ceremony will be offered in a hybrid format, allowing attendees to participate either in-person (at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C.) or virtually allowing for maximum attendance through an inclusive format where colleagues, friends, and family members who may not be able to attend the event in person are able to participate. This year’s induction ceremony, which will feature personalized video vignettes and livestreaming of each inductee, will be a special way to recognize the new fellows as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge traditional methods of celebration.

Learn more about the academy and visit the hybrid policy conference website for more details.

About the American Academy of Nursing The American Academy of Nursing serves the public by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge. Academy fellows are inducted into the organization for their extraordinary contributions to improve health locally and globally. With more than 2,800 fellows, the academy represents nursing’s most accomplished leaders in policy, research, administration, practice and academia.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.