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Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, FPCN, Transitions from Standing Faculty at Penn Nursing After Two Decades of Service

Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, FPCN, transitioned from her position as the Killebrew-Censits Chair in Undergraduate Education, and Professor of Palliative Care, in December 2020. She did not go far – as she continues her research at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, and works to guide quality improvement efforts in VA medical centers across the country.

During her 20 years at Penn Nursing, she developed and disseminated evidence-based and best practices to improve palliative and end-of-life care, with an emphasis on nursing home residents and veterans. Her passion and energy are endless, and her scope and influence has transformed care to older adults with pain, cognitive impairment, and functional limitations. As a national and international expert on pain and palliative care for older adults, her research and practice were the foundation for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s End-of-Life Nursing Education (ELNEC) Consortium – Geriatric curriculum.

Mary demonstrated her commitment across our tri-partite mission -teaching, research, and practice. Mary developed innovative and effective teaching and mentoring strategies for students that she shared with faculty throughout our curriculum. She is a well-respected mentor for faculty and students, which has led to successful grants and career advancement among those she mentored. She played a key leadership role in the development of the undergraduate nursing program with VinUniversity in Vietnam. She is co-principal investigator of a five-year VA-funded program entitled, Preferences Elicited and Respected for Seriously Ill Veterans through Enhanced Decision-Making (PERSIVED). Its overall goal is to prevent unwanted, burdensome treatments by eliciting preferences for care from Veterans who are served by the Veterans Health Administration’s Home-Based Primary Care teams and the Community Nursing Home Program. She also serves as co-investigator on several NIH- and VA-funded studies with interdisciplinary colleagues at Penn and around the United States is a national leader in the VA system. Mary maintains her appointment at National Veteran Experience Center (formerly PROMISE Center) for which she remains a prominent nursing leader. Her work to improve long-term care also continues as a member of Quality of Care in Nursing Homes Committee convened by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Her impressive record of over 130 peer reviewed journal publications reflects her scholarly productivity that continues to inform research, education, practice and policy.

Among the many recognitions of her dedication to improving end of life care she received the Distinguished Researcher Award from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in 2009 and

inducted into Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing in 2019.