Leading the Way for Advances in Healthcare

The faculty of the Yale School of Nursing are leading the way across a variety of healthcare fields and research contexts. Thomas Naratil ’83 and Wendy Naratil ’83 have created a permanent endowment to allow one faculty member at the School of Nursing to pursue a new research idea or undertake a cutting-edge project.

Established in 1923 as the first university-based nursing school, Yale School of Nursing (YSN) has a nearly century-long commitment to science and research. Ann Kurth ’90 MSN, dean and Linda Koch Lorimer Professor of Nursing, is proud to uphold that tradition.

“Yale nurses lead the way in applying scientific advances to clinical practice,” Kurth said. “One of my most exciting roles as dean is to support our faculty members who conduct research on significant health issues, while cultivating the spirit of innovation in our students.”

With its seventy nursing scientists and clinicians, the YSN faculty continually breaks new ground in nursing science, drawing from basic, clinical, biobehavioral, translational, and community engaged-research approaches. This breadth allows for a nuanced understanding of health—nurses explore the impacts of environmental factors, access to healthcare, genetics, educational and behavioral interventions, and more—and positions the school to bring the best ideas to bear on health system, population, and patient outcomes.

Funding innovative science

To support this work, Thomas Naratil ’83 and Wendy Naratil ’83 have created a permanent endowment at YSN, enabling one faculty member each year to undertake a cutting-edge project or pursue a new research idea. The dean will select a recipient whose work promises to have a meaningful impact on the school and in the wider world, with an eye toward pilot research, new clinical initiatives, global health projects, or creative pedagogy.

“Tom and Wendy are committed to spurring innovation in nursing,” Kurth said. “At the same time, their gift provides critical faculty support, helping me to attract even more outstanding scientists to YSN. I am grateful for their generous and farsighted contribution.”

Improving healthcare for all

Tom and Wendy Naratil have an abiding interest in healthcare: They are both members of the YSN Dean’s Leadership Council, and in 2013 they endowed an annual award at Women’s Health Research at Yale to support innovation in women’s health. When their daughter enrolled in the Nursing College at Villanova University, the Naratils began to focus on the crucial role of nurses.

“We made this gift because we saw the great difference nurses make for both their patients and the healthcare system,” Wendy Naratil said. “There is tremendous potential for creative healthcare solutions to improve people’s lives.”

Leaders in health science

YSN nurses and midwives are prolific researchers. A sampling of projects shows the range and impact of their work.

Marianne Davies ’87 MSN works with an interdisciplinary team treating patients with stage IV lung cancer at Smilow Cancer Center, developing new immunotherapies and clinical practices.

Julie Womack ’08 PhD studies HIV/AIDS in an aging population, with a focus on HIV-infected women. She uses natural language processing and machine learning to explore links between HIV and conditions associated with aging, including falls, heart disease, and sleep disturbance.

Holly Powell Kennedy shapes the global research agenda in midwifery as part of an international team that has identified and assessed research gaps worldwide in maternal and child health.

Linda Honan ’89 MSN collaborates with the schools of engineering and medicine on ways to enhance student skills in clinical observation and physical examination. One recent innovation is a ‘beat-box’ device that simulates a range of pulses.

Soohyun Nam studies social networks and obesity risk behaviors among African-American women. Her interests include self-management for chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, plus health disparities affecting adults of diverse races and ethnicities.

Lois Sadler ’79 MSN and Nancy Redeker have an NIH-funded study to develop a healthy sleep program for urban families with young children. Sadler also leads a W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded effort to disseminate the Minding the Baby® home visiting program. Redeker directs YSN’s Biobehavioral Lab and has an extensive NIH-funded sleep-science research portfolio.

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