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CON dean honored with prestigious award

by Megan Fink
Public Relations
For the past 35 years, Gail Stuart, Ph.D., R.N., has dedicated her career to improving the lives of patients and their families by addressing their mental health needs and challenging the problems they experience with the behavioral health delivery system. In recognition of her numerous professional achievements in the field of psychiatric nursing, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has selected Stuart to receive the 2008 Hildegard Peplau Award.
The Hildegard Peplau Award can be compared to a lifetime achievement award for psychiatric nurses, because it honors years of service in clinical practice, policy development and educational leadership. Since this national nursing award is given once every other year to one psychiatric nurse, competition is fierce.
Dr. Gail Stuart

“Peplau is often referred to as the mother of psychiatric nursing,” said Stuart. “And so it is a truly high honor to be recognized with this award at the pinnacle of my career. It’s one of those rare moments when you look back at your lifetime’s work as seen through the eyes of the many people you have touched, and you think, ‘yes, it has been good.’”
One of Stuart’s major contributions to the psychiatric nursing field is her textbook, “Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing,” published in 1979. The book will be released this fall in its ninth edition. Generations have been educated using this book, Stuart said. What distinguishes this text from others in the field of psychiatric nursing is its pioneering use of the biopsychosocial and stress adaptation models woven consistently through each chapter.
“When I started writing the textbook, the integration of biology along with stress and coping was not well developed in nursing,” said Stuart. “I believe that I have helped move the whole field of psychiatric nursing forward by developing a truly integrated model of psychiatric nursing care that is now the standard practice.”
In addition to the award-winning textbook, Stuart has authored numerous journal publications and given more than 200 national and international presentations.
During the past 10 years, much of Stuart’s work has involved spanning boundaries and working in interprofessional forums. She has chaired the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, the American College of Mental Health Administration, and presides as chair of the board of the Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce. Stuart also is the only nurse serving on the Board of Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association).
“I am definitely grounded in nursing, but I have spent much of my career bringing the view of nursing to interprofessional circles where I believe that all providers, working together, can bring about real change in the health care system,” Stuart said.
In the clinical and research arenas, Stuart has been a crusader for patient compliance and a leader in clinical practice, especially in depression and anxiety in women. “It’s significant that we have so many effective treatments that could really help people, but few patients take full advantage of them. We really need to understand why people don’t always do what’s prescribed,” Stuart said.
Stuart’s research has addressed the factors that contribute to the success of effective treatment plans. She believes that non-compliance is not a patient problem; rather it is a provider problem. “If you have not formed a true partnership with a patient and designed a treatment plan that is based on how it will improve that patient’s life by helping to achieve the patient’s goals, then it is not likely to be followed,” said Stuart.
The Hildegard Peplau Award will be presented to Stuart during an awards ceremony at the annual conference held in Washington, D.C. on June 26.


Friday, June 13, 2008
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