In the world of nursing research, Betty Ferrell is a hall-of-famer

March 10, 2014 | by

Every field has its stars, and nursing research is certainly no exception. One of those stars – City of Hope's Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N.,  – will soon be inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI).

City of Hope's Betty Ferrell

Betty Ferrell, City of Hope's director of Nursing Research and Education, is being recognized for her research in the field of palliative care nursing.

A pioneer in the field of palliative care nursing, Ferrell is City of Hope's director of Nursing Research and Education. She will join 24 other nurses being inducted this year. The award recognizes nurse researchers who have achieved national or international recognition and whose work has improved the nursing profession and the patients it serves. The honorees’ research projects will be shared through the Virginia Henderson International Nursing e-Repository, allowing nurses around the globe to benefit from their discoveries.

“The combined accomplishments of these 25 honorees are nothing short of world-changing,” said Hester C. Klopper, Ph.D., M.B.A., R.N., R.M., STTI president. “In keeping with the STTI mission to celebrate nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership and service, I congratulate the 2014 Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame honorees.”

Ferrell is a leader in the field of palliative care nursing and research, with a career spanning more than three decades. She was recently named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative care medicine – the medical specialty focusing on relieving suffering and improving quality of life for people with serious illness – by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. In the past year, she was one of the authors of the Institute of Medicine report “Delivering High Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis,” which recommends ways to improve cancer care delivery.

Ferrell is internationally known for her expertise in pain management, quality of life and palliative care. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nurses and has published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals and texts. She is currently the principal investigator of a project funded by the National Cancer Institute to investigate quality of life and palliative care for lung cancer patients.

Palliative care and end-of-life care are often used interchangeably, which is not completely accurate. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life by managing pain, symptoms and psychological and spiritual concerns associated with illness – all good practices to begin at the start of treatment, which is the focus of Ferrell’s five-year study.

When Ferrell began her career in 1977, fewer than 10 hospices operated in the United States and the term “palliative care” wasn’t part of the medical vocabulary. She has been a leader among the cadre of nurses who have changed the culture of care and created hospice and palliative care as an essential component of health care.

“Palliative care is an essential component of health care as well as a human right,” Ferrell said. “I am honored to be recognized by STTI, and appreciate the opportunity to share this research, which I hope will assist nurses worldwide to improve their daily practice and help them improve quality of life for their patients.”

The award will be given during STTI’s 25th International Nursing Research Congress in Hong Kong, July 24 to 28. The annual event attracts more than 1,000 nurses, researchers, students and clinicians. The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance world health and celebrate nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership and service. It includes more than 130,000 active members in more than 85 countries. The award presentation is sponsored by Wiley.

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Learn more about City of Hope's research programs.