1. Section Editor(s): Rust, Jo Ellen MSN, RN

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CURRENT POSITION: Associate professor


CURRENT AFFILIATION(S): Boston College, William F. Connell School of Nursing


AREA(S) OF SPECIALIZATION: Public/community health practice/HIV prevention research with aging women living with HIV infection


PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION: BS at Northeastern University, MS at Boston College, PhD at Wayne State University


CERTIFICATIONS: Public Health Clinical Nurse Specialist and AIDS Care Registered Nurse, ELNEC


Dr Rosanna DeMarco was nominated by Ellen K. Mahoney, DNS, RN, associate professor and department chair, William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College. Dr DeMarco has been a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) for over 30 years. She received this award at the annual National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists held in Chicago, Illinois, in March 2012. Dr Mahoney describes Dr DeMarco's program of scholarship including the study of women, marginalization, and health behaviors with special emphasis on the concept and outcome measure of "silencing the self" in black women living with HIV and nurses in the workplace. She has more than 10-year history of funded research in these areas and has more than 60 publications in national and international book chapters and journal articles.


Dr DeMarco coproduced an HIV prevention intervention film called Women's Voices Women's Lives as part of a community-based participatory action research project in Boston, Massachusetts. The film features 4 HIV-positive women talking about their experiences and is considered a prevention intervention tool for teens, women, and health providers. The film has been adopted by statewide and national AIDS service agencies and has won a national award from the American Academy of Nursing and is used internationally in Africa, Vietnam, and Central and South America and is translated in Vietnamese and Spanish language.


Passion, commitment, expertise, and leadership underscore Dr DeMarco's significant contributions to nursing and healthcare research demonstrated through her community-based approach as a CNS. She gives voice to a marginalized and highly vulnerable group of individuals. Her work is a true example of how a CNS can be an expert researcher, clinician, teacher, and policymaker to influence quality care for individuals, families, and communities.


How has your CNS role prepared you for or contributed to your research agenda?

I believe that a program of scholarship includes an interrelated nexus of research, teaching, and service so that each component contributes to the other.1 This interrelated focus is the hallmark of CNS practice (spheres of influence), and as such the overarching aim of my scholarship is to answer significant researchable questions about peoples' health/wellness and illness by using the best population-centered approach to answer those questions. The best way for a CNS to answer research questions from a population-based perspective requires creative, reflective, sensitive, meaningful, and evolutionary methodologies in hard-to-reach, underserved populations. In these populations, trust needs to be built over time to make a real difference. I believe a program of distinguished scholarship is measured by the significance of the questions asked, the level of productivity in communicating the results in a cumulative trajectory of finding answers, the theoretical soundness of the work, and the extent to which answers are shared and bring solutions to others.2 For my program of research, "others" in this context means individuals, families, and communities or work groups that benefit from culturally relevant and sensitive interventions at the local, national, or international level.


What do you see as the most significant areas of research now and in the future for the nursing care of patients within your area of specialization?

In HIV research, it is critical to identify the drivers of health disparities such as race, geographic location, socioeconomics, ecology, biology, and quality of healthcare to understand how they uniquely affect health education and prevention, diagnosis and care, and treatment. For me, these drivers may be uniquely different for women. Future research needs to address the development of interventions that are culturally relevant and gender sensitive. These interventions need to be community based and include the voices of those who are living with HIV infection. It is critical to retain women in care over a long chronic care trajectory, and I have found the best way to do this is have them involved in the solution.


What strategies would you propose to CNSs to help them incorporate actual research in their usually already busy schedules or practice?

I would encourage nurses to always use critical analyses in viewing best practices but also to evaluate the gaps in practice. To validate their observations, they need to be willing to explore the data available in the research literature to understand where the gaps in care may exist. I would suggest choosing a CNS mentor who is passionate about asking sound research questions and who can develop a process to explore those questions either through quantitative or qualitative methodologies. I would also encourage the use of interdisciplinary collaboration as a way to give evidence to the value added by a CNS and to approach research with a variety of worldviews.


You have authored many articles in your specialty, what practical tips on writing for publication would you share with CNSs?

Three important ideas: (1) have a mentor help you get started; (2) read, read, read so you know how to add to nursing science and contribute to new ways of looking at healthcare challenges; (3) never give up[horizontal ellipsis] even if writing yields "serial rejection," always keep on trying.


What has it meant to you to receive this award both personally and professionally?

I am so grateful for the recognition I have received not only for my program of research but to be honored by the group and professional role (NACNS/CNS) that has formed the lens with which I see patient, families, and populations. This is an incredible honor.


Cornel West once said that justice is the public face of love. I really believe understanding that nursing is not medicine, healing is different than curing, and that choosing research questions that are relevant is really more about doing what is right and just than what is popular or standard. I have come to realize that being a CNS who is a researcher is more about actualizing the relationships between clinical expertise, development of future professionals, and the creation of sound policy as a way to justly represent our patients, families, and communities and the contribution of CNSs to others.




1. Boyer EL. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; 1990. [Context Link]


2. Meleis A. Scholarship and the R01. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2001; 33 (2): 104-105. [Context Link]