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Dr. Melissa O'Connor Named Inaugural M. Louise Fitzpatrick Endowed Professor

Dr. Melissa O'Connor

Melissa O’Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, FGSA, FAAN is the inaugural M. Louise Fitzpatrick Endowed Professor beginning on January 1, 2022, announced Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor of the Villanova University M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing (FCN).  The November 2 announcement followed a rigorous search process conducted via an FCN search committee.  

Dr. O’Connor is a professor at FCN, director of its Gerontology Interest Group (the "GiG") and a Distinguished Educator in Gerontological Nursing. She is dedicated to advancing the care of older adults living in the community and is one of 11 nurse scientists accepted to the inaugural cohort of the Betty Irene Moore Fellowships for Nurse Leaders and Innovators which recognizes early- to mid-career nursing scholars and innovators with a high potential to accelerate leadership in nursing research, practice, education, policy and entrepreneurship.

Dr. O’Connor’s research focuses on the health outcomes of vulnerable older adults receiving home health care. She seeks to develop and test evidence-based interventions in home health to ensure vulnerable older adults receive the care they need to improve outcomes. Her project with the fellowship program, Home Health Discharge Decision Support (HEADS-UP), is focused on creating a clinical decision support system to determine readiness for discharge to support home health clinicians as they make the critical decision to discharge vulnerable older adults from services.

In addition to serving as chair of the Board of Trustees for the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia, Dr. O’Connor is a former Patricia Archbold Scholar and Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellow. Currently, she is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the Gerontological Society of America, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. 

The  M. Louise Fitzpatrick Endowed Professorship in Nursing in the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing was established by a generous anonymous donor.  As per the wishes of the donor, the holder of this endowed professorship must be a tenured or tenure track faculty member with specialization in community and home health nursing.  The initial term of the appointment is three years. The professorship is renewable based on successful attainment of goals such as:   

·         mentoring students and faculty, including developing grant applications and scholarly work

·         teaching across academic levels

·         advising graduate and doctoral students

·         guiding student research and scholarly projects, including PhD dissertations

·         engaging in and disseminating research and scholarly work

·         successfully pursuing funding opportunities

·         maintaining active engagement in the College, University and professional community.