Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Director, John A. Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Room 329 Fagin Hall
418 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4217
tel: (215) 746-3563
Mary Ersek is the Director of the Veterans Health Administration PROMISE (Performance Reporting and Outcomes Measurement to Improve the Standard of care at End-of-life) Center, which is located at the Philadelphia VAMC. The goals of this national program are to identify and reduce unwanted variation in the quality of end-of-life care throughout the VA and to define and disseminate processes of care (“Best Practices”) that contribute to improved outcomes for Veterans near the end of life and their families.
At the School of Nursing, Dr. Ersek is Associate Director, John A. Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence. Previously she was the Director or Research in the Center for Nursing Excellence and Research Scientist at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle WA and held research faculty appointments in the University of Washington Schools of Nursing and Medicine. Dr. Ersek received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Georgetown University, and a Master of Nursing and PhD in Nursing Science from the University of Washington.
Dr. Ersek directs the palliative care minor in the School of Nursing and teaches in courses that are associated with this program. She also mentors an interdisciplinary group of pre- and post-doctoral fellows and students. She is the lead author of the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) Geriatric curriculum and teaches in the program.
Over the last several years, Dr. Ersek has developed and led a program of research focused on pain and palliative care in older adults, with an emphasis on residents of nursing homes. These studies include two NIH-funded randomized controlled trials, one investigating the efficacy of a pain self management group for residents of retirement communities, and a current project that examines the effectiveness of a pain management algorithm coupled with intensive support and consultation in enhancing the health status of nursing home residents. Two other projects evaluated the impact of comprehensive palliative care curricula on nursing home staff and nursing assistants’ knowledge and skills. Another ongoing study, funded by the New York Department of Health, is testing the effectiveness of web-based informatics reports and education in changing clinical practice patterns and enhancing resident outcomes in nursing homes. More recently, Dr. Ersek is working with an interdisciplinary group of investigators to develop a valid and reliable measure of pain intensity for persons with advanced dementia and limited ability to communicate.
Currently Funded Grants
Center for Integrative Science in Aging
2011 - Dean’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
2010 - Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing (FPCN), Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
2009 - Recipient, Distinguished Researcher Award, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
2008 - Kelting Visiting Scholar, University of Iowa College of Nursing
2007 - Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
2000 - John J. Bonica Trainee Fellowship, International Association for the Study of Pain
1992 - Excellence in Cancer Nursing Research Award, Oncology Nursing Society/Schering
1989–1991 - Individual National Research Service Award, National Center for Nursing Research
1986–1987 - American Cancer Society Scholarship for Master's Degree students
1985 - Recruitment Award, University of Washington Graduate School of Nursing
1985 - USPHS Traineeship for Master of Nursing Students
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