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Doctoral Nursing Student Makes Strides in Gerontological Nursing Science

Doctoral Nursing Student Makes Strides in Gerontological Nursing Science

Lisa Bailey

Caring for older adults has been a long-time interest for Lisa Bailey, a doctoral student in the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing. Learning new knowledge to improve their care is what inspired her to pursue her Ph.D. with a focus on gerontology.

With nearly 15 years of nursing experience, Bailey has worked with older populations in home health and in medical-surgical units, where she developed a special fondness in caring for these patients.

“They are usually very willing to talk and tell you about their life experience,” she said.

Personal experience also motivated her to focus on gerontological science and women’s health.

“Watching my grandmother succumb to Alzheimer’s disease and my mother to cancer heightened my interest in health care issues faced by the aging population,” she said.

These personal interactions, along with discovering her passion for research studies while taking graduate courses, are what led her to the Doctoral Nursing Program at OU.

“I took a few courses that required me to dig deeper into the world of nursing research,” she said. “To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the courses, and it awakened in me an interest in research. Knowing that nurses could be involved in both generating and implementing new knowledge to improve the care we provide to patients and families was very exciting.”

Bailey’s interest in geriatrics and research earned her the prestigious Donald W. Reynolds Scholarship, which is supporting her doctoral studies at OU. These interests also led to her involvement with the Midwest Nursing Research Society Gerontological Research Interest Group – a group dedicated to the advancement of gerontological nursing science and care of older adults through research – which she is currently serving as its chair-elect and will assume the office of chair next year.

Her other focus area, women’s health, inspired her dissertation research on the impact of chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment on the social health and well-being of older breast cancer survivors.

While assisting her doctoral mentor, Dr. Melissa Craft, in the analysis of journals, Bailey realized that many women who complained of cognitive issues following chemotherapy had also experienced problems functioning in some of their social roles.

“They expressed having difficulty functioning at their jobs, as homemakers or in volunteer positions they had previously been involved in,” she said. “These women often had normal scores on tools designed to measure cognitive function. I decided to investigate further to understand how cognitive issues affected women’s important roles in life and how that played into their perception of their cognition and their psychological well-being.”

Bailey plans to complete her dissertation in the next few months and will be eligible to graduate in December. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in academia as a faculty member in a nursing program and to continue developing her program of research related to women’s health issues.

By Mackenzie Scheer

Article Published:  Wednesday, July 15, 2020