Pioneering prevention: new associate dean probes adolescent risks
by alicia potter, photograph by lee pellegrini
For 20 years, M. Katherine Hutchinson, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, worked as a neonatal critical care nurse. But the experience of caring for infants with congenital syphilis and HIV in the late ’80s and early ’90s moved her in a new direction. While pursuing her doctorate, Hutchinson began to research adolescent and young adult risk behaviors, focusing on parental influences on sexual risk activity and HIV prevention.
Named CSON associate dean and professor late last spring, Hutchinson brings this patient-family-centered balance of practice and scholarship, as well as an academic leadership background, to her new role at the Connell School. A former associate professor at New York University’s College of Nursing and founding director of the University of Pennsylvania’s nursing undergraduate honors program, Hutchinson now oversees all CSON graduate programs and leads its doctoral program.
Born and raised outside Philadelphia, Hutchinson says she knew from an early age that she wanted to be a nurse. She received a B.S.N. from Michigan State University College of Nursing and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. She did post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, joining the faculty there in 2001. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.
Since 2005, Hutchinson has collaborated with researchers at the University of the West Indies on an NIH-sponsored project in Kingston, Jamaica, testing a family-based HIV risk-reduction intervention for adolescent girls and their mothers. She is slated to present the study’s final findings at the 2012 State of the Science Congress on Nursing Research in Washington, D.C. But her partnership with the university hasn’t ended: She is currently conducting a pilot study aimed at devising an intervention for boys.
Hutchinson describes her research as “an extension” of her two decades of clinical practice. “I’m continuing to work with parents and families as a way to have a positive impact on people’s lives,” she says.
Frequently involving students in her studies, Hutchinson came to NYU in 2007, at a time when its College of Nursing was revamping its Ph.D. curriculum to emphasize rigorous course work and research training. With a strong doctoral program already in place at CSON, her goal is to work with faculty to expand opportunities for hands-on research, scholarships, and National Research Service Award grants.
“I’m looking forward to providing our students with the best training possible to launch their own research trajectories and make substantial contributions,” she says. “It’s always exciting to watch a student develop into an investigator.” ✹