June 28th, 2007 | Following the Leaders
The National Institute of Nursing Research is one of the newest departments at the National Institutes of Health. It also has the smallest staff and an even smaller budget than the other 26 institutes and centers of NIH. Working against this backdrop, Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN is leading a group of nurse researchers who are changing how our health care system cares for the dying and our most vulnerable citizens.
Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN is the director of NINR, and she is dedicated to improving the health of our nation through nursing research. The mission of NINR is to promote and improve the health of individuals, families, and communities. Grady, who was appointed to her position in 1995, believes that nursing research is different from many other types of research because it addresses primarily patient problems, thereby making it usually more relevant in people’s lives than other types of scientific research. Under Grady’s leadership, the NINR is conducting research that is focused on helping people achieve and sustain a healthy lifestyle, easing the symptoms of illness while improving the quality of life for patients and caregivers, eliminating health disparities, and addressing issues at the end of life.
Past and current research projects include investigations involving teenagers living with diabetes, hypertension among inner city African-American males, and the elderly who have heart failure. One study funded by NINR gained national media attention when it showed gender differences in response to analgesics. Grady is working to advance the field of nursing research by encouraging more nurses to enter the field. In an interview for Nurse Week, Grady said, “Nursing research is a younger field and there are fewer of us. We’re expanding our mission and increasing our ranks at a time when [other scientific research disciplines] are already quite large.” According to the National Institute of Health’s website, NINR supports basic research relevant to its mission, in order to provide a sound scientific basis for changes in clinical practice. Grady routinely reports to members of Congress about her department’s activities, and to fight for more money aimed at nursing research.
Grady is an active nursing leader, and is an internationally recognized stroke researcher. She is a member of many scientific organizations, including the Society of Neuroscience, and the American Academy of Nursing. She is also a fellow of the American Heart Association Stroke Council. Grady is a published author and co-author of numerous articles and papers, and she is an editorial board member of the major stroke journals. She has also served on the faculties of the University of Maryland School of Nursing and School of Medicine.
Grady believes that the future for nursing research looks bright, and she is working to educate the public, as well as the nursing profession, about the work that is being done by nurse researchers. During an interview on NIH Radio, she said that the issues that we are dealing with as a society are related to the same kinds of issues that she and the other researchers deal with at NINR, and within the field of nursing. Grady encourages every nurse from all educational backgrounds to consider research nursing as a career. She views nursing research as a great way to serve patients and their families, as well as the nursing community.