PhD Student Finds her Niche
Mary Whipple, RN, ‘14 BSN, has discovered her passion for research that can lead to healthier aging for older adults. This passion, intelligence and support from faculty at the School of Nursing helped her to earn a $100,000 scholarship from the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence to pursue a PhD in Nursing.
Whipple was thoughtful in choosing gerontological nursing research.
“I saw how devastating a fall was to my grandma and how it changed her life and the lives of those in my family,” Whipple said. “In caring for a family friend, who lived to 100, I saw an example of healthier aging. Seeing that, contrasted with my grandma’s experiences, really motivated me to want to help older adults stay active.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology at Luther College in Iowa, she completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in Rochester, where she gained experience practicing in a wide range of settings at the renowned Mayo Clinic.
As a PhD student and the 2015-2017 Patricia G. Archbold Scholar, she works as a research assistant with faculty on several funded grant projects all related to exercise science.
“I have gained so many insights and skills from these projects,” she said. “I’ve been able to learn from experienced investigators and clinicians in the School of Nursing and make connections with faculty and staff in other areas of the University.”
For her dissertation, she plans to examine the role of sedentary time and diabetes in outcomes of exercise therapy for older adults with peripheral artery disease.
Longer term, she hopes to teach and advance research discoveries that can lead to evidence-based information and practice for clinicians working with older adults.
“Ultimately, I hope to have a positive impact on our understanding of the implications of exercise and sedentary time on diabetes and cardiovascular disease in older adults and develop programs that can help assist older adults with diabetes and cardiovascular disease in maximizing their potential benefit from physical activity,” she said.