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A Florida State University College of Nursing professor has been recognized as a fellow of the American Heart Association.

Assistant Professor Lucinda Graven will be recognized as a newly elected fellow of the American Heart Association (AHA) at the AHA Scientific Sessions Nov. 16 -18 in Philadelphia.

“It’s a great honor to know that I’m thought of highly by my peers in the field of cardiovascular research and in the nursing profession,” Graven said. “Receiving this fellowship signifies that my peers recognize my research as innovative and important to the field of heart failure research and patient care.”

The AHA is a leading international organization for cardiovascular research and education, boasting 43,000 members worldwide. The AHA consists of 16 scientific councils, each uniquely dedicated to advancing the science of cardiovascular health through research and education.

“The AHA is important because it is the leading voice for cardiovascular research and informs the standard of care for cardiovascular patients,” Graven said. “Clinicians look to the AHA to provide evidenced-based clinical guidelines for the treatment and management of cardiovascular disease. AHA recommendations for the clinical management of cardiovascular disease are based upon findings from interdisciplinary research studies conducted worldwide.”

AHA Fellowship is open to physicians, scientists, nurses and other healthcare professionals with a major and productive interest in cardiovascular disease and stroke. Fellowship candidates must be nominated by a current fellow of the AHA, undergo a rigorous review of application materials and be voted on to receive fellowship by current fellows of the AHA. Graven was nominated by Lisa Kitko, an associate professor in the College of Nursing at Penn State University.

“The fellowship provides national and international recognition in the field of cardiovascular research,” Graven said. “It recognizes your contribution to the field of cardiovascular research and education. Fellowship provides opportunities to further my heart failure research through collaboration with other fellows and nationally/internationally known scientists.”

Graven is an advanced practice registered nurse with more than 20 years of cardiovascular nursing experience. She’s published more than 20 peer-reviewed publications that examine outcomes in heart failure patients and their informal caregivers, including important and innovative intervention research, in well-known nursing and interdisciplinary journals. Her research focuses on improving outcomes in heart failure patients through the development and testing of cognitive-behavioral interventions. Recognizing the importance of caregivers, Graven’s research also focuses on caregiver self-care as a means to improve heart failure patient self-care.

“Currently, my research involves developing an intervention for heart failure patients and their family caregivers to promote collaborative problem-solving for daily problems related to heart failure,” Graven said. “I’m hoping that this intervention will help improve heart failure self-care and decrease health care utilization.”

When Graven was an undergraduate student in the FSU College of Nursing, cardiovascular nursing intrigued her but also carried a personal sentiment because of family members who had struggled with cardiovascular health. After spending seven years as a bedside nurse at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Graven went back to school at FSU and earned her Master of Science degree in Nursing, initially intending to become a family nurse practitioner. Deciding to pursue more academic endeavors, Graven’s focus narrowed specifically to heart failure when she earned her doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2014.

“The highest percentage of individuals with heart failure are over the age of 65, and as the population in the U.S. ages, we’re expecting those numbers to rise,” Graven said. “More research is needed to help patients and their caregivers take better care of themselves to promote health and well-being and self-care. Improving these outcomes may impact the high health care costs we currently have in the U.S. for heart failure patients and improve quality of life.”

Graven’s involvement in the AHA began early in her career when she was a registered nurse at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. She started by participating in local efforts, like the annual heart walk, eventually becoming the team captain for her unit and providing Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support training. Once she earned her doctorate and began the tenure track, she decided to officially become a member of the AHA. She became very active in the organization, joining committees and eventually moving into her current role as vice chair of the Complex Patient and Family Care Sub-Committee of the Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing Council. Next year, Graven will be promoted to chair of that committee.

She also recently served on an AHA-commissioned writing group to develop the following scientific statement, “Addressing Social Determinants of Health in the Care of Patients with Heart Failure: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association.” The statement is currently undergoing final review.

In addition to receiving her fellowship certificate at the AHA Scientific Sessions, Graven will present her latest study, “Who Cares for the Caregiver: Heart Failure Caregiver Self-Care,” which was funded by the Heart Failure Society of America.

“This presentation will focus on data which identifies subgroups of heart failure caregivers at risk for poor self-care,” Graven said. “I also will present data which evaluates the association between caregiver burden, depression, quality of life and self-care in heart failure caregivers. Caregivers of heart failure patients are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses because they are busy taking care of the person with heart failure and do not take time to participate in activities which promote their own health and well-being.”

In August, Graven was granted a courtesy appointment in FSU’s College of Medicine in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine.

“I’m excited about the appointment with the College of Medicine and look forward to opportunities for collaboration and networking within the university,” Graven said.

For more information about the FSU College of Nursing, visit nursing.fsu.edu.

For more information about the AHA, visit heart.org.

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