Dartmouth Cancer Research Nurse Marie Bakitas Honored for Pioneering Palliative Care Research

September 24, 2010
Lebanon, NH

Photo Marie Bakitas

Marie Bakitas, DNSc, APRN, AOCN, FAAN

Marie Bakitas, DNSc, APRN, AOCN, FAAN, will be presented with the 2010 Brilliant Future New Investigator Award by the Council for Advancement of Nursing Science (CANS) at the organization's annual State of the Science Congress, to be held September 27-29 in Washington, DC. Dr. Bakitas, who is an assistant professor of anesthesiology and medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and a researcher at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, is being honored for her pioneering work in palliative care, according to CANS.

The Brilliant Future New Investigator Award recognizes the contributions of scientists early in their research careers who show extraordinary potential to develop sustained programs of research certain to have significant impact on the science and practice of nursing and health care. "Building on a solid expert clinical background, Dr. Bakitas's passion for bringing scientific rigor to the developing and under-studied field of palliative care certainly demonstrates strong leadership in advancing nursing science," CANS noted in a statement prepared for the award presentation. The Council, an entity of the American Academy of Nursing, supports the development, conduct, and utilization of nursing science, disseminates research findings, and facilitates education for nurse scientists.

At Dartmouth, Dr. Bakitas co-founded and has been the nursing leader of a research team focused on developing novel palliative care interventions to improve the quality of life and quality of care for cancer patients living in rural areas. Her recently completed study of a nurse-led telephone-based intervention, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was recognized for having the "highest potential for impact on the field of hospice and palliative medicine" at the 2010 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Nursing Annual Assembly.

"Marie's accomplishments are a testament to the importance of nursing science to improve treatment and the quality of life for cancer patients as well as documentation of her remarkable efforts to establish an independent research career. We are very pleased," said Mark Israel, MD, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

"We hope that by giving these awards to the recipients, they will be encouraged to continue in the path of their strong work in nursing science and research," commented Mallory Schindler, program associate at CANS. "This award to Dr. Bakitas also recognizes the high caliber of nursing scientists cultivated at Dartmouth."

"Dr. Bakitas has been involved in nursing research and advancing the science of nursing over her whole career here at Dartmouth, and this well-deserved award acknowledges, in addition to the important work that Marie has done, the supportive environment for nursing research and evidence-based practice here. If you have a passion for nursing science, you're very supported here," said Mary Jo Slattery, interim director of nursing research at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "Marie has always been a great inspiration to other nurses -- her research strictly focuses on the patient, on improving the patient experience, and thus instilling in all of us the confidence that we are building a patient-focused palliative care practice here that is based on the latest research evidence."

Margaret Plunkett, a clinical nurse specialist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who has worked closely with Dr. Bakitas for 27 years, said, "Marie is always asking 'Why?' She isn't ever satisfied with the status quo -- she's always wanting better for patients. She's also been a tremendous motivator. Because of her, many, many Dartmouth-Hitchcock nurses have gone on to get graduate degrees."

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth Medical School with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at 11 affiliate hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 40 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute's Comprehensive Cancer Center designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at

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