University of Rochester School of Nursing associate professor and nationally recognized researcher Nancy M. Watson, Ph.D., R.N., F.G.S.A., was recently named 2010 New York State Distinguished Nurse Researcher by the Foundation of New York State Nurses. She received the award at New York University in November.
The award recognizes Watson for the quality, evidence, contributions and dissemination of her decades of research which has focused on understanding and improving the experience of older persons living in residential long-term care (LTC). Since the 1970’s, Watson has worked on improving the quality of that care, especially for individuals with dementia, and has been dedicated to translating her research into practice.
Specifically, Watson’s multi-site research includes being the first to document the shift in nursing homes from primarily being “rest” homes to caring for persons with significant behavioral symptoms associated with dementia. This recognition led to a major new direction in nursing home research. She developed a better understanding of acute episodes of agitation and emotional distress related to dementia from the perspective of the person experiencing them. In addition to developing the first guidelines for antibiotic use in LTC, she identified the nature of acute conditions experienced in LTC; improved the understanding, evaluation and care of urinary incontinence in LTC; described and evaluated the trajectory of symptoms of persons with dementia at the end of life in LTC; and detailed significant problems with oral care in LTC. Her internationally recognized work with University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing Professor Thelma Wells, Ph.D., R.N., focused on effectively improving the psychological well-being of persons with dementia through rocking chair therapy.
As founding director of the University of Rochester School of Nursing Elaine C. Hubbard Center for Nursing Research on Aging in 1999, Watson has also created new solutions to prepare nurses to care for geriatric patients, driven gerontological curricular change, mentored students and faculty in pursuing geriatric research, and reopened the geriatric nurse practitioner program at the University of Rochester. In 2008, she was named the Geriatric Nurse Faculty Champion by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and The John A. Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing.