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Nursing PhDs Solving Future Health Problems Today

While working in intensive care, nurse Shannon Halloway (left) saw that elderly patients experiencing cognitive changes weren’t always getting the attention they needed. Health and function outcomes worsen, creating serious challenges for caregivers. Seeing the problem firsthand inspired Halloway to take a different health care path — one with broader impact.
“I want to affect the profession in a global way by changing the way we care for people on a mass scale,” Halloway said about why she is pursuing a nursing PhD at Rush. For her dissertation, she has studied the relationship between physical activity and cognition in elderly Latinos, a group often left out of such research.
Halloway is getting her PhD at a good time; PhD nurses are now in greater demand. In the 1990s, studies showed that hospitals employing nurses with higher levels of education had better overall patient outcomes. An evolution followed, with post-graduate nursing researchers emerging focused on long-term health promotion and disease prevention.
Other caregivers treat those who are ailing today, while nursing PhDs work to prevent people from needing treatment in the future, helping them live as well as they can and for as long as possible.
Among the forward-thinking people who believed nurses can make serious breakthroughs in health care was Dorothy Yates, a 1937 graduate of Rush predecessor Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing and former head nurse at Presbyterian during the 1940s and 50s. Yates left the College of Nursing a $2.9 million bequest that will be used for tuition and some living expenses for nursing PhD students such as Halloway. The bequest was one of many ways that Yates supported nursing education throughout her life. In 1998 she established the Dorothy Yates Endowed Scholarship Fund for undergraduate nursing students. Yates also supported Rush by funding several gift annuities.
“If you have to work to support yourself while studying, you likely won’t have time to perform research with faculty, even though such work helps you become a better scientist,” said Marquis Foreman, PhD, RN, FAAN, the John L. and Helen Kellogg Dean of Rush University College of Nursing. “Thanks to Dorothy’s bequest, we can now help our students develop into even more effective researchers.”

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