Baton Rouge, LA – Fayron Epps, Ph.D., R.N., faculty in the School of Nursing at Our Lady of the Lake College (OLOL College), has recently been awarded two fellowships recognizing her research dedicated to improving the quality of life for African American older persons with dementia and their caregivers.
Dr. Epps was selected as a 2013-2015 National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) Claire M. Fagin Fellow. This fellowship supports post-doctoral research in gerontological nursing. “The NHCGNE Claire M. Fagin Fellowship will afford me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and skills as a nurse scientist and as a leader in gerontology,” explained Dr. Epps. “It will also give me the opportunity to cultivate interprofessional relationships, allowing me to improve the care of elders through research, instruction and practice.”
Under the auspices of this fellowship, Dr. Epps will collaborate with mentors Janet K. Specht, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, Director of the Iowa John A Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence and Lisa Skemp, Ph.D., R.N., the Sister Agnes Marie Fitzsimons Endowed Chair of Gerontological Nursing at OLOL College. Furthermore, she will consult with Wanda Spurlock, D.N.S., R.N., Associate Professor of Nursing at Southern University and a 1976 alumna of OLOL College, School of Nursing to facilitate inter-professional relationships in Louisiana.
“This research study aims to determine what types of health promotion activities family member caregivers are involved in and how this involvement improves the functionality and health of these community members. This program of research will enable me to contribute to evidence based practice and research for African American older adults in Louisiana and in the United States,” says Dr. Epps.
Dr. Epps has also been selected as a Fellow to attend the 2013 Summer Workshop on African American Aging at the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research. This fellowship is a collaboration between the University of Michigan and Wayne State University to enhance diversity, mentor new investigators in minority aging research and recruit/retain new participants in minority aging research.
The objectives of the summer training workshop are to identify and train early stage career scientists of diverse backgrounds who are committed to conducting African American aging research. “The summer workshop will nicely complement her postdoctoral NHCGNE Claire M. Fagin fellowship, as she not only develops her career as a nurse scientist but develops her leadership in facilitating Our Lady of the Lake College becoming a Center of Excellence in Gerontology,” explained Dr. Lisa Skemp, one of Dr. Epps’ mentors. “The committees awarding these fellowships have confidence in Dr. Epps’ potential to do research that will make a real difference in the nursing care of older persons.”
Dr. Epps shared the origin of her interest in geriatric research, “I recognized my interest in older adults when I was in high school. As part of a health career class, I was involved in visiting with older adults who lived at an inner city nursing home. Listening to the stories from the older residents inspired me to become a gerontological nurse with hopes of making their lives better. After working in a long-term care setting, I became involved in staff and caregiver training on prevention of elder abuse. My graduate studies and dissertation research emerged from this experience and led to my current research on creating culturally informed interventions to prevent difficult situations that may lead to abuse for both the elder and the family member caregivers.”
With these two fellowship opportunities, Dr. Epps’ continued research will advance as she collaborates with a network of gerontological clinicians and researchers supported by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System and coordinated through the Sister Agnes Marie Fitzsimons Gerontological Nursing Endowment.
Offering master’s, baccalaureate, and associate degrees, Our Lady of the Lake College is a four-year, independent institution, providing a strong foundation in the liberal arts and continuing its highly-regarded health sciences and nursing programs. Established in 1923 as a nursing school by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady (FMOL), Our Lady of the Lake College holds to a Franciscan tradition of service, offering a healing and spiritual presence for the community and especially those most in need. To learn more about Our Lady of the Lake College, please visit www.ololcollege.edu.