April 23, 2004

Nursing Science Ph.D. celebrates 10 years

Featured Image

From left, Dean of the School of Nursing Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D.; Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D.; keynote speaker Patricia Grady, Ph.D.; and Melanie Lutenbacher, Ph.D., celebrate the 10th anniversary of the School of Nursing’s Ph.D. in Nursing Science Program. Photo by Dana Johnson

Nursing Science Ph.D. celebrates 10 years

Faculty, students and alumni from the School of Nursing’s Ph.D. in Nursing Science Program reflected on the history and looked to the future as they celebrated the 10th anniversary of the program last week.

“Not only do we have a Ph.D. program, we now have a post-doctoral program,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., Nancy and Hilliard Travis professor and dean of the School of Nursing.

Conway-Welch welcomed keynote speaker Patricia Grady, Ph.D., R.N., director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Grady congratulated the school on the rapid development of the doctoral program. “It’s pretty remarkable that you had your first graduate four years after enrolling your first student.”

Grady’s address, “Nursing Research: Shaping America’s Quest for Health,” focused on the work the NINR is doing to support programs and research projects offered at VUSN and other institutions.

“Your program is parallel with what we’re doing at NINR and we’re here to help you in your goal of shaping patient care,” she said.

In 2002, Grady said the NIH provided $86.6 million to fund research projects at schools of nursing. The same year, VUSN placed among the top 15 schools of nursing receiving research funding from the NIH.

Grady said nursing science is on the right path for a bright future.

“Nursing is not new, but research performed by nurses is new. We’re only about 17 to 18 years old on the NIH campus… we’re teen-agers, she said. “But we’re in the neighborhood with the 50-plus years of experience of some of our NIH neighbors.”

Grady reflected on how nurses with research training and expertise are now being sought after by other disciplines as essential collaborators.

She noted that major health care and interdisciplinary journals are now publishing studies led by nurse researchers, helping nurses reach an audience they’ve never reached before.

“Our results are changing practice and our results are making a difference in health and health care,” she said.

According to Grady, one of the things that makes nursing science unique is the synergy between biological and behavioral research.

“It’s an important characteristic we need to preserve,” she added.

Melanie Lutenbacher, Ph.D., director of VUSN’s doctoral program, said the program here allows students to practice that philosophy in an intimate setting in partnership with faculty mentors.

“The beauty of this program is that it’s a small program with intense mentoring,” Lutenbacher said.

Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., Valere Potter Professor and senior associate dean for Research at VUSN, thanked Grady for helping VUSN celebrate the anniversary of the program, and recognized past and present faculty for their work to meet the important milestone.

“This is a day of pride, reflection, and looking forward to the future,” he said.