ONS, HPNA honor Bakitas for continued impact on palliative care field
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Professor and Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair Marie Bakitas, DNSc, CRNP, FAAN, has recently been recognized by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) and the Hospice and Palliative Nursing Association (HPNA) for continued outstanding work in the palliative care field.
Bakitas, who also is associate director and senior scientist at the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care, received two awards at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM)/HPNA Annual Assembly in Chicago in early March – the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF)/Project on Death in America (PDIA) Nursing Leadership Award in Palliative Care and the HPNA Distinguished Researcher Award.
In late April she received the 2016 ONS Distinguished Researcher Award at the 41st Annual ONS Congress in San Antonio.
Bakitas described being honored with the two HPNA awards as “extremely gratifying.”
“Getting these two awards was special for me because nurses are not regularly recognized for leadership as a result of their research,” Bakitas said. “To have those two pieces put together and to send the message to nurses that research is a way to demonstrate leadership in the field was really special.”
It was fitting that Bakitas was formally recognized for her contributions to pain and palliative care science, said J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom, PhD, RN, ACHPN, a postdoctoral fellow in the School and Bakitas’ mentee. Dionne-Odom nominated Bakitas for the HPNF/PDIA Nursing Leadership Award and was with her in Chicago when it was presented.
He was proud to prepare the nomination to recognize her leadership and as a way of saying a special thanks to his mentor.
“Dr. Bakitas has done much for me in my career, and she’s done the same for so many people across the country,” Dionne-Odom said. “What she has done for the science of palliative care nursing is enough in itself, but she has gone beyond that by training the next generation of palliative care scientists. I was finally able to offer some gratitude that words alone can’t sum up.”
Bakitas said the 2016 ONS Distinguished Researcher Award is special because of the group presenting it.
“What is really exciting is that I will be getting this award for my palliative care research in oncology,” Bakitas said. “I’ve been working hard for 15 years to bring palliative care into oncology. For me to get this award brings attention to the importance of palliative care in the oncology field, and that is truly special.”
The award also is special, she said, because of its UAB connection. Connie Yarbro, MSN, RN, FAAN, co-founded ONS while at UAB in 1975 and served as its president from 1979 to 1983.
While Bakitas is touched to receive all the accolades, she did want to clarify one thing.
“I have had a little trouble associating myself with the word ‘distinguished’ because to me it suggests, in many ways, that you are at the end of your career,” Bakitas said. “I really feel like I’m at the beginning of a whole new phase of what I am doing in my research. I’m definitely nowhere near the end.”
Bakitas came to the School in 2012 after previous associations with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, both in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
“I came here because of the opportunities, the resources and the support for this kind of work, and that has just continued to blossom,” Bakitas said. “When you examine what goes on at the School of Nursing and the university as a whole, it is top science. It feels like this environment makes being successful easy because of the talent, the support, the collaboration and the resources that are available.
“I love what I do, and I love doing it here with the wonderful nursing and palliative care teams that I am a privileged to be a part of at UAB.”