Baptist Health Nurses Named to 2023 40 Nurse Leaders Under 40 List

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  –  The Arkansas Center for Nursing recently announced several Baptist Health nurses on its annual 40 Nurse Leaders Under 40 list. They are:

  • April Bennett, MSN, CHFP, RN, president of Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway, joined Baptist Health in 2020 as the hospital’s chief nursing officer. In a short amount of time, Bennett supported the opening and expansion of multiple specialties including the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation unit, intermediate care unit and medical/surgical unit as well as the opening of a new intensive care unit and medical/surgical unit. In addition to her leadership of BHMC-Conway, Bennett spearheads a systemwide council focused on improving patient and family experience. 
  • Courtney Jasna, BSN, RN, CMSRN, has been a nurse with Baptist Health for seven years, but has worked in health care for twice as long. She was most recently promoted to manager of emergency services at Baptist Health’s hospitals in Fort Smith and Van Buren. She serves in many leadership roles related to patient experience and nurse retention. Jasna is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Leadership and Administration. 
  • Dani LaRoe, RN, of Baptist Health Extended Care Hospital, has been a clinical coordinator since May. LaRoe earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Arkansas Tech University in 2017 and in 2022 took an assignment as a travel nurse in the intensive care unit at Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock. She currently plans to go back to school to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing Management. 
  • Gillian Hutchison, RN, MAT, of Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock, has been a part of Baptist Health for a little more than five years. She currently works with Baptist Health’s bariatric surgery patients to ensure their weight loss journey is successful and seamless. The Arkansas native is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 
  • Jalesia Austin, DNP, ARPN, FNP-C, of Baptist Health Urgent Care, has been with the clinic for six months. As a nurse practitioner, she provides acute care for patients experiencing minor illness or injury, as well as formulates plans for patients in need of further care with a specialist. The Little Rock native earned a Doctor of Nursing from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. 
  • Jessica Mathisen, MSN, RN, CNE, of Baptist Health College Little Rock, has been in her current teaching role for about six months, but has been a part of Baptist Health for three years. In addition to teaching nursing education classes for incoming freshmen, she also conducts simulated theory immersions as part of their clinical experiences. Mathisen earned her undergraduate degrees in nursing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Western Governors University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice In Educational Leadership from American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Post University.  
  • Justin Edmison, RN, of Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock, has worked in the intensive care unit for a little more than four years. Edmison has been recognized on numerous occasions with safety and top performer awards from his peers, as well as DAISY Foundation nominations from patients. Edmison attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  

The Arkansas Center for Nursing’s mission is to promote a culture of health for the citizens of Arkansas by advancing nursing education, practice, leadership and workforce development. 

The 40 Nurse Leaders Under 40 recognition is intended to identify, celebrate, and encourage exemplary dedication and leadership in the nursing profession. Recipients were selected through a highly competitive nomination process which focused on their commitment to excellence, service and outreach within their community, leadership qualities, and contributions to the advancement of the nursing profession.

Honorees will be recognized in a ceremony on Oct. 16 at the Benton Event Center in Benton.


About Baptist Health

For more than a century, Baptist Health has delivered All Our Best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 250 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; a graduate residency program; and access to virtual care anytime, anywhere. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app.