University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing PhD student Macy Stockdill, BSN, has received an 18-month $75,000 grant F31 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).
The grant provides Stockdill funding for her PhD studies, including the opportunity to take additional courses and complete her dissertation, both while work on a research team with her mentors, Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair in Nursing and Professor of Nursing Marie Bakitas, DNSc, CRNP, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN; UAB SON Assistant Professor J. Nick Dionne-Odom, PhD, MSN, MA, RN; UAB SON Professor and Director of Statistics Andres Azuero, PhD, MBA; Bluestone Center for Clinical Research’s Bradley E. Aouizerat, MS, PhD; and Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing’s Christopher S. Lee, PhD, RN, FAAN.
“I was thrilled to be selected to receive this grant, and to be honest, it’s still sinking in. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time to apply for these grants, and they’re very competitive,” said Stockdill. “I’m excited to be the first person from the UAB School of Nursing to receive this grant, and this opportunity is a testament to my mentor, Dr. Marie Bakitas, and the strength and growth the UAB School of Nursing has seen in research.”
The F31 fellowship provides an extra support during Stockdill’s PhD program, Bakitas said, and helps her stand out as an early career researcher.
“The first grant is always the hardest, so completing this process and receiving the F31 grant is no small task,” Bakitas said. “This process also allows Macy to expand her network, become a known nurse researcher across the nation and prepare to write her next career award or grant.”
Stockdill earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the UAB School of Nursing in 2016, and prior to entering the School’s BSN to PhD program, Stockdill worked as an RN on one of UAB Hospital’s hospitalist units. Most of the patients she saw had heart failure, and her experience led to an interest in research centered on palliative care in heart failure. She joined Bakitas’ research team in 2017 and entered the experience with a passion and willingness to take on new challenges.
“I worked with Macy through her initial coursework, and since joining our research team, she has approached new tasks fearlessly with a ‘can do’ spirit, and when she completes the work, it’s perfect and on time,” Bakitas said. “Her ambition and willingness to embrace new experiences and different aspects of research are the qualities you want to see in someone who, so early in their career, is going to take on the mammoth task of applying for an NIH grant.”
Bakitas is internationally recognized as a clinical researcher and leader in palliative care, and her early telehealth palliative care model ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) was the first to demonstrate that palliative care can lead to improved quality of life, mood and in some cases potential survival.
In her dissertation, Stockdill will complete a secondary analysis of existing data from ENABLE: CHF-PC, which focused on comprehensive heart care for patients and caregivers, to identify symptom pattern trajectories of heart failure patients. The analysis will look at co-occurring symptoms with the goal of developing improved interventions that target multiple symptoms.
“In heart failure, there is a lot of science looking at symptom management and experience, but there’s not much info about how symptoms change over time,” Stockdill said. “Palliative care is also an important topic in the South, and the Southeast Institute for Innovation in Palliative and Supportive Care at UAB has made great strides to get palliative care up and going in the Southeast. It has been great to be a part of that process through Dr. Bakitas’ research team, and my goal is to look at the trajectory of co-occurring symptoms to see the best ways we can tailor interventions going forward.”
This F31 grant is not Stockdill’s first national recognition. In 2018, she was named an Emerging Leader in Heart Failure by the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) and was a 2018 assembly scholarship awardee of the Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Foundation (HPNF). In 2019, Stockdill had an oral presentation at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Annual Assembly. Even being selected for a presentation is impressive, Bakitas said, but Stockdill’s poise and professionalism during the presentation also serve as an example of her talents and bright future.“Macy’s experience really stands out. She fully embraced experiences on our research team, and she has been mentored in so many ways. On top of that, she has been able to go on and present her work nationally and done beautifully. I’m proud to see how quickly she has learned and how she has excelled in all that she takes on. I’m looking forward to watching as Macy inspires others and takes other early career researchers under her wing.”