Get to Know Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN Director, National Institute of Nursing Research National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
Q. Why did you decide to pursue nursing as a career?
A. From early on, I was interested in a career working with people and helping to improve their health. Nursing provides a variety of opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.
Q. Why did you decide to become a nurse scientist?
A. As a nurse in a clinical setting, I saw how devastating strokes were for both patients and their families. I was inspired to pursue a doctoral degree in physiology to learn more about strokes, how to treat them and, more importantly, how to prevent them.
Q. What advice would you offer to individuals interested in this specialty?
A. The first piece of advice I would like to offer is to get started early in research. One excellent way to begin is to participate in a study within your own environment, such as with a quality improvement project. I have found that most nurses become excited about research once they see how the results can improve patient outcomes.
Let your background and experience direct you to the questions and challenges in your practice that research can help answer. A mentor involved in research can be particularly helpful to guide you through the early steps.
Q. How has nursing impacted your life?
A. Nursing has given me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. I have been fortunate enough to conduct critical research in fields that are interesting to me and important to society.
As the director of the National Institute of Nursing Research, I am proud to guide our Institute in supporting research that creates and expands the scientific basis of clinical practice and improves the health of people across the lifespan.
Q. What do you enjoy most about the nursing profession?
A. At NIH, I enjoy the opportunity to meet and work with many of the most talented individuals in the country committed to improving health and preventing disease, and I am asked to offer a perspective on these vital issues. I also enjoy speaking with health professionals and students in all disciplines to promote clinical research and demonstrate its value.