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Gilmer named to International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

May. 27, 2020, 2:05 PM

Mary Jo Gilmer, PhD, MBA, with Misha, a teddy bear goldendoodle that provides animal-assisted therapy. (photo by Anne Rayner)
Mary Jo Gilmer, PhD, MBA, with Misha, a teddy bear goldendoodle that provides animal-assisted therapy. (photo by Anne Rayner)

by Nancy Wise

Mary Jo Gilmer, PhD, MBA, professor of Nursing, has been selected for induction into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame by Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

The honor recognizes her significant, sustained international achievement and her research that has influenced the nursing profession and the people it serves. Entry into the hall of fame is considered one of the highest honors in nursing research.

A leading researcher in palliative care for children with life-threatening conditions, Gilmer serves as the co-director of the Pediatric Palliative Care Research Team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Her research interests include parent-sibling bereavement, parent-child communication and interventions to reduce suffering in children with cancer.

Gilmer’s funded work includes studies of the impact of a child’s death on bereaved families. The long-term goal is to use controlled, longitudinal research on the psychosocial outcomes of families affected by cancer and the loss of a child to develop interventions to reduce the suffering and morbidity of parents and siblings.

Gilmer is currently conducting a pilot study investigating the health benefits of human-animal interactions in reducing suffering of children with advanced cancer undergoing debilitating treatments. This current pioneering project involves advancing knowledge in pediatric oncology and animal-assisted therapy, and has the potential of improving childhood cancer treatment.

The study builds off Gilmer’s previous research, which showed the benefit of human-animal interactions on children newly diagnosed with cancer and their parents. That study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, showed that regular visits from a therapy dog contributed to positive psychosocial benefits to families of children during the initial stages of pediatric cancer treatment.

Gilmer will be one of 19 nurse researchers inducted during the 31st International Nursing Research Congress held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The 2020 inductee class includes researchers from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Gilmer holds appointments as professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and is affiliated with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

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