Penn State Intercom......June 21 , 2001

School of Nursing awards
first doctoral degree

May 13th was a very important day for Janice Penrod. After years of perseverance and hard work, she received her doctoral degree in nursing from Penn State.

It was an important day for the School of Nursing as well. Penrod became the first person to graduate with a doctoral degree in nursing from the school.

The School of Nursing implemented the doctoral degree program in the fall of 1999 to develop clinical scholars, faculty and researchers who can teach and provide leadership through scientific inquiry and innovative practice. Along with completing core requirements in nursing science, nursing and health research, and research methodology and statistics, students create individualized study plans that enable them to develop expertise and research capabilities within a specialized area.

Penrod joined the School of Nursing as a research assistant in 1995 and became an assistant professor of nursing in the school last fall. She has published 15 articles in referred professional journals as well as three book chapters.

Penrod specialized in and earned a minor in gerontology while completing her doctoral degree. Her research, which was supported by a fellowship from the National Institute of Aging, explores the role that abstract concepts such as uncertainty, trust and hope play in helping patients cope with a serious injury or illness, and how nursing as a science interprets those concepts when caring for patients.

Penrod plans to expand her research to explore how health-care providers can help people suffering from chronic illnesses cope more effectively with those afflictions in everyday life. "I don't think we can eliminate uncertainty from people's lives, but we can help them manage their uncertainty so it doesn't get out of control," she said. She also hopes to conduct research on how to minimize the disabling effects of osteoporosis in women.