What is courage? To Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, ANP-BC, FAAN, FAANP, AACRN, “Courage is the willingness to step up, even in the midst of complete lack of facts, lack of data, lack of a full understanding of what you're actually stepping up for.”
As an infectious disease epidemiologist, researcher, and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Dr. Farley was better prepared than many to face such uncertainty and step forward in response to COVID-19, but his willingness to do so (in the words of his dean, Patricia Davidson, PhD, MEd, RN, FAAN) with “courage, integrity, and commitment” set him apart.
When supply challenges surfaced with personal protective equipment (PPE), Dr. Farley collaborated with colleagues from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and the University of Maryland to create a testing booth to reduce clinician and patient exposure to the disease—an innovation that allowed for testing at community sites. Dr. Farley also took on new research, as co-recipient of a Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for COVID-19 (RADxUp) grant and leader of the JHU Coronavirus Prevention Network, both funded by the National Institutes of Health. For these and other remarkable accomplishments in 2020, the Academy chose Dr. Farley to receive the COVID-19 Courage Award in Science.
“Nurse academics often find themselves caught up in the volunteerism level of the response while our colleagues in other disciplines take more of the scientific approach to the response,” says Dr. Farley. “To me it's not a choice of one or the other. It's essential to do both.”
He notes that COVID-19 health outcomes have been driven as much by nursing practices such as proning, infection control behaviors, and whether or not people can access testing and therapeutics. “To me, each of those areas are perfectly aligned with inquiry by the nurse scientist,” he says.
When not engaged in activities related to COVID-19, Dr. Farley directs the REACH Initiative serving Baltimore City residents living with and at risk for HIV. He also serves as clinical core co-director at the university’s Center for AIDS Research and as a nurse practitioner in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Nursing and Medicine. As a nurse epidemiologist and scientist, he was well prepared to respond to the current pandemic. Dr. Farley agrees, saying, “This is the moment I have trained my whole life for.”