Nursing Instructor Wins Hartford Fellowship
The two goals coincided with the announcement this spring that Buron, a clinical instructor in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas, was awarded a predoctoral scholarship of about $80,000 over two years. The scholarship was awarded by the Hartford Foundation and the American Academy of Nursing.
"Bill Buron's predoctoral scholarship is a great academic achievement," said Tom Kippenbrock, director of the nursing school. "The John A. Hartford resources will allow Mr. Buron to conduct gerontological research in graduate school and complete his dissertation. This resource will be the springboard to a new professorial position and a research career."
Buron's dissertation will feature his research under way on interventions to promote personhood during the treatment of dementia. The principle of personhood in dementia care was introduced in the early 1980s by Dr. Thomas Kitwood, an internationally renowned dementia researcher. His book, "Dementia Reconsidered," discussed the concept of personhood as "a standing or status that is bestowed upon one human being, by others, in the context of a relationship and social being. It implies recognition, respect and trust."
The philosophy mandates that the medical professional honor the individual person at all stages of the disease process, focusing on what privileges and rights the patient can retain, such as deciding when to wake up, when to go to bed, how to spend time and what to eat. This model helps to prevent whatever abilities and self-identity are left to the patient from wasting away.
Buron began working on a doctoral degree two years ago at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He drives to Little Rock once a week while teaching full time in Fayetteville and working as a family nurse practitioner in Rogers specializing in geriatrics.
"The scholarship will allow me to devote myself full-time to finishing my education and beginning my research in the field of geriatrics," Buron said. "I have always been interested in geriatrics. My first job was in long-term care."
Buron chose UAMS because of the strength of its geriatric program and is mentored by Elaine Souder, a professor in the UAMS College of Nursing. UAMS is home to one of five Centers of Geriatric Nursing Excellence funded by the Hartford Foundation in the United States.
The scholarship includes funding to pay tuition and other academic fees, for travel to leadership conferences and a stipend. Buron will be required to write several papers and make presentations at national conferences. He plans to finish his coursework next spring and complete his dissertation the following summer.
In the dissertation, Buron will look particularly at communication among nursing staff and patients with dementia in a long-term care setting. He described personhood as a concept similar to basic human dignity. Dementia affects the sufferer's ability to interact fully with other people, Buron explained. Conflict results when these patients are treated like children. Like children, they will rebel, he said.
Medical professionals expect to see the number of patients with dementia grow as the baby boomer generation ages, Buron said. And, unlike previous generations who grew up when times were harder, the baby boomers will expect a higher quality of care, he said.
While at the university, Buron has taught laboratory classes in general adult health and some advanced labs on geriatrics. After he obtains his doctoral degree, Buron plans to stay in academia, teaching geriatric nursing. He plans to continue to maintain a clinical practice as well.
"I think it is important to continue practicing in long-term care while teaching," Buron said. "I want to improve the quality of life of long-term care residents with dementia with increased attention to the communication between the nursing staff and the residents. It helps to see that communication happening. It helps with perspective."
Heidi Stambuck, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
(479) 575-3138, firstname.lastname@example.org