Oncology, palliative care experts lead

MSN subspecialty faculty bring experience, knowledge to program

Photo: Marie BakitasMarie Bakitas, DNSc, CRNP, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN

Marie Bakitas is a professor and the Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair at UAB School of Nursing and associate director, UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. She is internationally recognized as a clinical researcher and leader in palliative care, and her program of research focuses on reducing suffering and enhancing quality of life for individuals with advanced illness and their family caregivers, especially in underserved and rural populations.

Bakitas joined UAB in 2013, bringing more than three decades of experience as a researcher and mentor. Moving to Alabama from the Northeastern United States provided an opportunity to increase palliative care access rates and positively impact care.

Throughout her career, Bakitas consistently has been recognized for her work in palliative care, receiving consistent funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Cancer Institute for projects focused on early palliative care in rural populations. In 2018 Bakitas received the American Cancer Society Pathfinder in Palliative Care award recognizing outstanding contributions to the advancement of palliative care. Bakitas is recognized as a strong mentor having formally mentored numerous pre and post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty and serving as co-director of an NCI T32 for fellows in Cancer Prevention and Control. Her mentorship has led others to become National Institutes of Health-funded, independent investigators.

“Oncology nurses at all levels provide essential symptom management and strategies to improve patients’ quality of life and supporting families,” Bakitas said. “The oncology subspecialty prepares Nurse Practitioners who are leading the way to ensuring that patients receive specialized, evidence-based care at all stages of their illness.”


Photo: Rebecca Edwards Rebecca Edwards, DNP, RN, AOCNP, ACNP-BC

Rebecca Edwards is an assistant professor and the co-coordinator for the Oncology Nurse Practitioner Subspecialty. She joined UAB School of Nursing as an assistant professor in 2014 and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD).

Her experience is in adult medical oncology, hospice and palliative care on a global scale, and her program of research is improving palliative care. After completing her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Boston, Edwards came to UAB and said the interdisciplinary strength of the University and School of Nursing were a large draw.

“It’s the best thing I could have done career-wise because of the strength of the global health, palliative care and oncology programs at UAB,” Edwards said. “I would never get that anywhere else, and I know that UAB is helping me accomplish my lifetime goals of embedding myself in global health and improving palliative care.”

In 2018, Edwards was awarded the Oncology Nursing Society Foundation Research Doctoral Scholarship. This allowed her to travel to Jamaica for a nursing conference at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, where she also completed a research-intensive internship for international professionals. The conference opened up networking opportunities and helped Edwards connect with those who work in palliative care in Jamaica.


Photo: Richard Taylor Richard Taylor, DNP, CRNP, ANP-BC

Richard Taylor is assistant professor and the co-coordinator for the Oncology Nurse Practitioner Subspecialty. This is his second year in the position, and he is working with co-director Rebecca Edwards to streamline the Oncology Nurse Practitioner subspecialty.

He first encountered nursing as a teenager, when he volunteered at a local nursing home and the local hospital. He joined the school in 2014 and brings more than 25 years of experience to the classroom. He received his master’s degree in oncology nursing from University of California, San Francisco. He received his Bachelor of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice from UAB School of Nursing.

Taylor is also an associate scientist at the Center for Palliative and Supportive Care and physician at the Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic at the Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital, which helps patients manage the symptoms and side effects often associated with serious illnesses such as cancer, advanced heart failure and advanced lung disease.

His research focuses on neuro-oncology, geriatric oncology, cancer care disparities, quality of life, lay navigation and overall well-being in cancer patients, and he was a key contributor in UAB’s Patient Care Connect Program, which provided lay navigators to thousands of patients. Through research on the Patient Care Connect Program, Taylor co-authored multiple articles discussing how the program benefited patients, their loved ones and improved management of care. 

“Oncology nurse practitioners take a holistic approach to care, across the cancer continuum. By providing this subspecialty, we are providing a depth to oncology care and working to improve access to oncology care in rural and underserved communities,” Taylor said.

Read 186 times Last modified on October 03, 2019

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