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Meet Dr. Mary Ann Cantrell, Director

Dr. Mary Ann Cantrell poses outside Driscoll Hall

Professor Mary Ann Cantrell, PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN embodies the teacher-scholar model that she promotes to PhD students in her role as director of the program which she assumed in 2017. She has been faculty in the program since its inception, as she continues her research into cancer survivorship in children.

Dr. Cantrell shares her philosophy

"The PhD Program continues to graduate highly-qualified scholars who are well-prepared to embrace the tripartite academic role. As a teacher-scholar, my philosophy of teaching reflects my clinical practice perspective – it is both an art and a science.

Being an effective academician, sound pedagogy is only half the role; the art of mentoring students is pedagogy’s equal. The intersection of effective teaching and the care taken in cultivating of young scholars exemplifies a Villanova education. Through my clinical experiences and research with children with cancer and young adult childhood cancer survivors, I embrace the phenomenon of presence. Being present to students, respecting their journey to becoming a scholar and being at the 'education bedside' reflects Villanova’s mission and the philosophy of the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing."

Cancer research impact 

Dr. Cantrell has effected in cancer nursing research what very few have achieved and through this rare but highly valuable approach, she has contributed to psychosocial cancer nursing research and care in ways that few others haveDr. Cantrell has achieved this by carefully studying the same set of psychosocial concepts from diagnosis of a pediatric cancer through adulthood status as a survivor of childhood cancer. She has done this through instrumentation science, the use of mixed methods and of electronic data collection in longitudinal studies.

Dr. Cantrell had evolved this research contribution from single site, internally funded descriptive work to multi-site, federally funded behavioral intervention team science. As a result, we now know how the concepts of hopefulness, quality of life, self-care and response to a caring nursing presence affect the newly diagnosed adolescent and how these concepts evolve and respond to nursing care differently over time and clinical context into survivorship.  The dimensions of the concepts do vary and it is this variation that gives strong guidance to cancer nursing care and science.

Dr. Cantrell's work is now incorporated into nursing curricula and national survivorship guidelines. She has translated her research about the caring nursing presence to the next generations of nursing students through the use of simulation, work funded intramurally and extramurally. These simulations reflect her research and the outcomes of the simulations on student practices. Dr. Cantrell connects nursing research, education and practice by way of data and data translation.

Dr. Cantrell earned her BSN from Duquesne University, her MSN from Villanova University and her PhD from the University of Maryland.