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Two Penn Nursing Professors Selected for Induction to the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

Penn Nursing’s Eileen Lake and Salimah Meghani will both be honored by Sigma Theta Tau International for their contributions to the nursing profession during the organization’s 35th International Nursing Research Congress in Singapore, in July, 2024.

April 04, 2024
Dr. Eileen Lake (left) and Dr. Salimah Meghani (right)
Dr. Eileen Lake (left) and Dr. Salimah Meghani (right)

Eileen T. Lake, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor of Nursing, the Edith Clemmer Steinbright Professor in Gerontology, and Associate Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research

“When I was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing over forty years ago, I never dreamed that I could join an International Hall of Fame of nurse researchers. To me, this award represents the pinnacle of achievement in nursing scholarship worldwide. Receiving this award means that my research and mentoring have had a profound impact on our profession, the communities we serve, and the students we train,” said Lake. “This award means that my parents’, husband’s, and children’s support and belief in me throughout my lifetime have been fulfilled. Likewise, no one receives a major award without having dedicated mentors, colleagues, and administrators. I am deeply grateful to my University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research colleagues and my colleagues from other institutions. I hope that my example inspires other nurses and nurse scientists to follow their passion to advance nursing science, practice, policy, and population health.”

“Dr. Lake’s scholarship in improving nurse work environments means a better work climate for all of us,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel, “and her induction into the Hall of Fame highlights the importance of her work for nursing, health care, and patients and families. She is truly deserving of this honor as a nurse, a researcher, and a leader.”

About Dr. Lake’s Work

With training in nursing administration, public policy, and sociology, Lake developed a foundational measure of nursing care performance to demonstrate nursing’s impact on patient outcomes: the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index. Continually endorsed for two decades as a U.S. national quality performance standard, the index provides scientific evidence that health care settings that capitalize on nurses’ education and skills – by providing competent and supportive managers, expecting physicians to treat nurses as partners in care, providing sufficient staff and resources, and encouraging nurse input on decisions – achieve higher quality outcomes. Her goal with the index, which is used in over 23 languages, is to motivate managers and policymakers to make nursing resources a priority investment.

Lake’s research impact spans clinical practice, policy, and methods. She has focused mainly on neonatal intensive care units (NICU), linking nurse staffing and work environments to critically ill newborn outcomes. Her publications are cited in the National Association of Neonatal Nurses 2021 Position Statement on RN Staffing in the NICU and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses 2022 Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units standards, which will support widespread changes in clinical practice.

For policy impact, her publications documenting superior patient outcomes in better staffed hospitals as well as in Magnet hospitals have catalyzed policy changes including the adoption of hospital nurse ratios in Wales, Ireland, Queensland AU, and several U.S. states; and the expansion of Magnet Recognition. Her research on hospital performance in Chile linked nurse staffing to rates of patient mortality and readmission throughout Chile’s public hospitals. The bi-national research team shared these results with the Chilean Ministry of Health. She is presently collaborating with scientists in Scotland to evaluate their Safe Staffing Law.

Lake is one of few researchers exploring health disparities from the hospital nursing system perspective. Her publications revealed poorer patient outcomes, worse nursing resources, and poorer nursing care quality in NICUs that serve predominantly Black very low birth weight infants. Last year she published on racial disparities in low-risk cesarean rates across hospitals and presented research documenting poorer nurse outcomes (worse moral distress and mental health) during the pandemic in hospitals where Black people predominantly access care. These contributions open a potential pathway through poorer nurse staffing and work environments to disparities in both racial minority patients and the nurses in hospitals where Black patients are served disproportionately. Lake is recognized for mentoring with national and school awards. As co-director of a 25-year long NIH-funded training program, she contributes to the development of future scientists.

Salimah H. Meghani, PhD, MBE, RN, FAAN

Professor of Nursing & Palliative Care, and Associate Director of the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health

“I am profoundly honored to be inducted into Sigma’s International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. Receiving this honor holds significant meaning for me as it symbolizes the culmination of a long and dedicated journey,” said Meghani. “This award is especially meaningful because it serves as a testament to impact, underscoring that the true value of scholarship and funding success lies in their ability to make a tangible difference. I am deeply thankful for this recognition and wish to acknowledge the invaluable support of all those who have contributed to this path.”

“Dr. Meghani’s long-standing commitment to advancing the field of palliative care—and her myriad accomplishments—has been impactful not only to nurses but to patients and families,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel. “Her induction into the Hall of Fame reflects her leadership in palliative care policy, education, practice, and scholarship. She is passionate about engaging with nurses, healthcare providers, and policy makers at all levels to impact the field of palliative care.”

About Dr. Meghani’s Work

Dr. Meghani is considered the foremost expert in her field and is acknowledged for her substantial contributions by state and federal agencies and professional organizations. She was appointed by Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania to serve on a task force dedicated to enhancing end-of-life care for Pennsylvanians. As a member, Meghani played a pivotal role in developing a blueprint aimed at improving access to end-of-life care for minority and underserved communities in the state.

Meghani was one of only two nurses who served on the landmark National Academy of Medicine (NAM) report, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life, and the NAM Planning Committee on Pain Management For People With Serious Illness in the Context of The Opioid Use Disorder Epidemic. She also reviewed the NAM report, Assessing Progress on the Future of Nursing. Meghani is the past Chair of the American Pain Society’s Pain Disparities Shared Interest Group and has served on numerous editorial boards including the official Journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. Meghani was recently invited by the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to serve on its Partner Consultation Board for the Multilevel Interventions to Reduce Harm and Improve Quality of Life for Patients on Long-Term Opioid Therapy Research Network as part of NIH HEAL initiative. Her research findings have been utilized in congressional testimonies and influential policy reports, highlighting their tangible impact on guiding key decision-makers.

Meghani spearheads a highly impactful research program aimed at enhancing pain and symptom management for individuals with cancer, particularly in the context of the opioid crisis. Her research adeptly navigates this challenging landscape compounded by the intersections of federal policies, state restrictions, and clinical practice guidelines governing opioid access and use. Her research offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of cancer pain management and spans an understanding of clinicians, systems, and policy factors that affect clinicians’ decision-making, patients’ self-management through the trajectory of their illness, and patient-reported outcomes. Her research is supported National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Nursing Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH Office of Director, the American Cancer Society among others. Her career highlights also include receiving the highly competitive NIH American Recovery and Reinvestment Challenge Grant. Her research, policy and advocacy work has led to informing federal policies, clinical practice guidelines and congressional testimonies.

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