The Pain Research, Education, and Policy Programs at Tufts University Welcome Wendy Williams

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator

You may see a new face if you are on the Tufts University School of Medicine campus in Boston these days.  Wendy Williams, BSN, M.Ed, is in a new role with the Pain Research, Education and Policy Programs at Tufts University School of Medicine, focusing on program development and administration. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Wendy to ask her a few questions about herself and her visions for the PREP programs.  

Welcome Wendy…Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I just arrived at Tufts from spending 8 years at Northeastern University in the School of Nursing working to ensure high quality clinical nursing education placements for both the undergrad/pre-licensure students and the advanced practice students seeking both clinical and non-clinical nursing master’s degrees.   My own clinical nursing background centers around oncology and HIV/AIDS.    I spent wonderful years at both Dana Farber Cancer Institute, during the time they had inpatient units, and at Harvard Community Health Plan/Harvard Vanguard with other highly skilled nurses on the HIV/AIDS Resource Team.I married a great guy back in 1996 who had a couple of sweet little boys who are now terrific college age young men, studying here in Boston.  My husband, Jeff, and I live in Framingham with our 3-legged cat, Punky, and hairless dog, Diddy.

What interests you about the PREP programs?

The concern for under-treated pain and pain management are steady threads that ran throughout my own clinical practice.  Ensuring adequate pain management is a strong cornerstone of quality nursing care and practice, so the PREP programs of study are very attractive to me and tie together much of what I value.  The chance to work collaboratively with the three program leaders (who are also physicians), Dr. Dan Carr and Dr. Richard Glickman-Simon and Dr. Ylisabyth Bradshaw, is an opportunity I want to leverage.I have long sought ways to be a force behind strengthening linkages between medicine and nursing and other health care disciplines to encourage both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to health care.  The PREP programs present an ideal setting to have broad-based conversations around the area of pain issues.  Also, my own master’s degree is in education, specializing in adult and organizational learning, so .  the opportunity to develop a program of study and optimize learning for students globally is a really strong draw for me to be here at Tufts working with the PREP programs.

What do you see as the strengths and challenges of the PREP program?

A real strength of the PREP programs is its unique position in masters level education  that delves deeply into the many physical/clinical, social and scientific aspects of pain.  There is not a population of people, worldwide, that is not impacted by pain issues.  Also, the fact that the PREP programs are not solely clinically based creates a rich learning environment for many types of students… clinicians seeking to be subject matter experts in pain issues learn side by side with non-clinicians who may be seeing the PREP programs as a way to become well-informed advocates for pain issues.  After about a month in this role, I see two challenges to the PREP programs that I would like to positively impact.  One challenge is getting more and more people in the greater Boston area to know about this great set of programs and to become students in the program.  I happen to know one graduate of the program, Hallie Greenberg, a nurse from the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and know that there are so many others that would be really inspired to become proficient in this area.  The other challenge is understanding and communicating to others clear linkages between getting one of the certificates and/or the master’s degree and a specific career enhancement.  There seems to be a certain pioneering element to encouraging students to go for the certificates or the degree as a natural next step in career growth.

What are your hopes and vision for the PREP program?

I hope that PREP grows steadily, both in numbers and in innovative educational initiatives, and sustainably with input from all communities of interest: students and alumni and staff and our steering committee and faculty and leaders in pain issues globally.  I would love to speak with students and alumni and gain their insights on how we can best lead the way in pain research, education and policy.  I welcome calls, 617 636-0815, emails wendy.williams@tufts.edu, or simply stop by my office in the M&V building, Room 142A. I’d love to meet you.

Add comment November 15th, 2010

10 Year Milestone for PREP Program at Tufts

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By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
The Pain Research, Education and Policy Program at Tufts University has reached an important milestone by celebrating its first ten years of existence. In the Fall of 1999, the first two students were welcomed into the new master’s program, the first of its kind in the United States, founded by two prominent pain specialists, Daniel Carr, MD, an anthesthesiologist-internist, and sociologist Kathryn Lasch, PhD; and housed within the Tufts University School of Medicine. Recent MS-PREP alumna, Xu Cheng, discovered an archive edition of the Tufts Daily announcing the MS-PREP program’s launch on October 26, 1999.
Click here to view the Tufts Daily 1999 article
In 2009, the PREP program remains an innovative, multidisciplinary program that has grown and evolved since its launch a decade ago. As one of the foremost experts in the field of pain management, Dr. Daniel Carr continues to be a guiding presence in the growth and direction of the Pain Research Education and Policy program. On the occasion of the 10 year anniversary of the program, I asked Dr. Carr to share his reflections about the PREP program with the PREP-AIRED blog community. Dr. Carr’s remarks appear in the italicized text below:
“Ten years ago, a front page article in the Tufts Daily announced the launch of a new Masters of Science degree program in Pain Research, Education and Policy (“MSPREP”). Kathryn Lasch PhD, a medical sociologist now with an international outcomes research consultancy, and I were its co-founders. The inaugural class had 2 students. Shahnaz Turkistani, a physician, returned to her native Saudi Arabia after graduation and now treats women with pain. Ewan McNicol, a Tufts-based pharmacist now on the PREP faculty, is known internationally for systematic reviews of pain therapies with the Cochrane Collaboration and others.
The first of its kind in the United States, our program remains unique and has grown slowly and steadily since 1999. We now offer a shorter, certificate track in addition to the original MS track. We owe much to the Sackler family, whose initial and ongoing support has been indispensable, the Hermanson family for funding scholarships, and the Saltonstall family for supporting pain research in the Department of Anesthesia at Tufts Medical Center, the source of many PREP faculty. Jeanne Connolly-Horrigan combined a marketing background and passion for pain control to help us grow enrollment during the mid-2000s. Richard Glickman-Simon MD, now its Director, brought a career-long interest in complementary and alternative medicine and built a successful dual degree program between PREP and the New England School of Acupuncture.
Our faculty have taught students, treated patients, advised policymakers and professional organizations, and authored many articles and books. Our next book is a guide to pain treatment for busy clinicians practicing in the current era of health care reform. The editors of this volume are Ewan McNicol MSPREP, Carol Curtiss MSN RN BC, a distinguished nurse educator and PREP faculty member, and me; other contributors include Richard Glickman-Simon MD, Libby Bradshaw DO, MS, PREP’s Associate Director, and Steven Scrivani DDS PhD, another valued faculty member. We 6 faculty comprise PREP’s Steering Committee. Given pain’s burden upon public health, it is most appropriate that PREP is housed within the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, capably led by Dean Harris Berman and more recently, Dean Aviva Must.
For me, the best thing about the first 10 years of PREP has been seeing our students succeed as they extend and enhance their careers, helping those with pain and becoming educational resources for their new colleagues. Students have come to PREP from across the US and from many countries, with diverse healthcare and non-healthcare backgrounds, and from other graduate programs at Tufts and affiliates. They have been MDs, RNs, DDSs, pharmacists, PTs, OTs, EMTs and others interested in pain, whether making a mid-career change from another field or beginning their graduate training immediately after college. One is the principal pain nurse educator in a large urban medical center. Another works with a world-famous outcomes research consultancy, on pain. Yet another accepted a high-profile advocacy position at a major pharmaceutical company. Another works in a hospice. Others have proceeded to medical or osteopathic school or to seek a PhD.
Our students are a very special group of altruistic people. We are proud of all they have achieved. We look forward to serving more and more students as society at large and the health professions increasingly understand how fundamentally important pain control is for quality of life, and accept pain control as a basic human right.”

Thank you to Dr. Carr and the PREP faculty for their vision and passion in the field of pain control, may the PREP program continue to blaze the trail for many years to come.

2 comments October 29th, 2009

An International Perspective from the Philippines

by Marie Belle Francia, M.D., M.S.
As an Internist and future Oncologist, pain assessment and management will play a vital role in my practice. That said, one issue I’ve come to realize based on personal experience and discussions with other practitioners is that the field of pain management often receives a disproportionately lower emphasis and share of investment in training programs. This issue is magnified in developing countries (like the Philippines where I will be practicing long term) where latest treatment may sometimes not be available or patients may not be able to afford. This is one of the primary reasons why I pursued the Master of Science in Pain Education, Research and Policy (MS-PREP) at Tufts University School of Medicine.
MS-PREP is a pioneering program that provides students with a solid foundation on the multi-faceted nature of pain. The multidisciplinary nature of the program encourages healthcare professionals to view pain from a broader perspective, seeing pain not as disease but as an illness where quality of life can be a therapeutic goal. The program equips students with knowledge on the molecular mechanism of pain to strategies in enabling changes in society. It has inspired me and my fellow students to search for gaps in knowledge and further contribute to the broader research agenda.

1 comment March 8th, 2009


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