Since her appointment as Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing and dean at UVA, Dr. Fontaine has implemented Appreciative Inquiry methodology as the basis for the School’s strategic planning and launched an interdisciplinary process to create a transformational model to provide compassionate end-of-life care across the health care spectrum. In addition, she has been a strong advocate for interprofessional education, engaging both medical and nursing students in collaboration with the School of Medicine, and a champion of developing the School's continuing education programs for working nurses.
Dr. Fontaine’s teaching has centered on issues related to critical care, including sleep promotion, pain relief, and family presence at the end of life. Most recently, she has investigated strategies to promote nursing education partnerships, diversity, and interprofessional education in university settings. Her priorities as dean include continued work in promoting healthy workplace environments, building more interprofessional collaborations, and increasing diversity in both the faculty and student populations. Between 2003 and 2004, she served as president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. That association recognized her contributions with its Lifetime Member Award.
Fontaine was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing in 1995, has received the Presidential Citation from the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International nursing honor society. Her alma mater, Villanova, honored her with a Medallion for Contributions to the Profession in 1999 and the University of Maryland named her a Distinguished Alumna in 2012.The following year, Fontaine received the Distinguished Lectureship Award from the Society of Trauma Nurses, the same year that the Blue Ridge chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society feted her with their Silver Hope Award, the society's highest honor. Later in 2013, UVa's Seven Society recognized her "exemplary leadership" and that fall, Fontaine was the invited Convocation keynote speaker at JPJ arena before an audience of thousands.
In 2015, she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award from UVA Health System as well as the University of Maryland's Visionary Pioneer Award. In 2014, Dr. Fontaine received recognition from UVA's Sons and Daughters of Liberty for her leadership along with UVA's Lifetime Learning Outstanding Faculty Speaker recognition award.
Prior to her 2008 appointment at UVA, Dr. Fontaine was associate dean for academic programs and clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco. Before coming to UCSF, Dr. Fontaine held associate dean positions and taught at Georgetown University School of Nursing.
Dr. Fontaine received her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Villanova University, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland, and her PhD from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In 2006, she completed a Management and Leadership in Education Program at the Harvard Graduate Institute of Higher Education. She's lived with her family in Pavilion IX since 2010 on the west side of UVA's historic Lawn.