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50th PhD student defends dissertation

Christina Whitehouse ‘04 BSN, ’16 PhD researched education programs to help elders with diabetes

Dr. Christina Whitehouse (center), the College of Nursing's 50th graduate of its PhD program, is flanked by committee chair and program director Dr. Nancy Sharts-Hopko (left) and second committee member Dr. Suzanne Smeltzer, director of the College's Center for Nursing Research.


Today, March 30, 2016 marks a milestone for the College of Nursing’s PhD in Nursing Program which welcomed its first class in 2004. Christina Reilly Whitehouse ’04 BSN, ’16 PhD, AGPCNP-BC, CDE is the 50th student to successfully defend her dissertation, which was titled “From Hospital to Home: Aiding in Patient Transitions through Education for Obese Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.”

Dr. Whitehouse first came to Villanova to earn her BSN as a second degree student. She returned to campus in 2011 as a member of the PhD program’s 8th class. She is a nurse practitioner in the Transitional Care Model for the Philadelphia-based Penn Homecare and Hospice Services.

“It is a dream come true to be able to receive a PhD from the College of Nursing at Villanova University. I hoped to pursue a PhD since I started my nursing career at Villanova as a second degree student in the alternate program. I had such wonderful mentors and professors and was intrigued with nursing research and theory. I understood to become a researcher I would need to have the education to make that happen,” explains Dr. Whitehouse.

For her study, Dr. Whitehouse completed a secondary data analysis of a hospital quality improvement intervention which included diabetes self-management education for obese older adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The purpose of her study was to investigate differences in outcomes of a nurse-led transitional care educational intervention comprised of inpatient education or a combination of both inpatient education and home care for those patients.

Her findings support the relationship of an educational intervention and obese elders’ ability to better manage their diabetes to improve glycemic control and avoid hospital readmission. These findings have implications for both policy and practice considerations for improving education and transitions in care for older adults with type 2 diabetes.

As for the future, Dr. Whitehouse notes, “I look forward to continuing my roles as a clinician and educator, with the addition of the new and exciting role of researcher. I plan to continue exploring and providing evidence to support improved health outcomes for older adults with chronic diseases as they proceed through transitions in care.”