PHOTO: Katie Fitzgerald Jones

Katie Fitzgerald Jones

Katie Fitzgerald Jones, BSN, MSN, APN is the recipient of the Isabel Hampton Robb Scholarship awarded to the doctoral student with the highest evaluation score. Katie is a Palliative Nurse Practitioner and second-year PhD student at Boston College Connell School of Nursing. She is also a member of the American Academy of Nursing Jonas Policy Scholars Program and Mental Health Scholar in the Jonas Nursing and Veterans Health Scholars program. 

Katie received her undergraduate and master's degree from Simmons University, following her family's nursing legacy. Katie was inspired growing up, watching her mother as a nurse who was recognized as the recipient Essence of Nursing award- the highest honor bestowed to a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Knowing the enormous shoes Katie had to fill, she continued her nursing education, pursuing her graduate degree and falling in love with oncology and palliative care. 

During her clinical career, Katie has developed a Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Katie served as the Palliative Nurse Director and Fellowship Director, which at the time, was only the 3rd Palliative Nursing Fellowship in the country. Katie is an active member of the Palliative Care Academic Community and an invited speaker at the Harvard Center for Palliative Care. For the past six years, she has worked as a Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner at VA Boston Healthcare System, developing a passion for caring for at-risk populations, including veterans with chronic pain, trauma, and substance use disorders. 

In 2019, Katie decided to pursue a doctoral degree at Boston College because of the strong mentorship in oncology populations, biobehavioral research, health equity, and the mission of training nurse leaders to provide whole-person care. Katie’s research interests derived from gaps she has witnessed in clinical practice. Namely, the dramatic shift in palliative care practice to now providing care to people living with serious illness much earlier in their disease who face challenges of prognostic uncertainty, chronic pain, and opioid safety. 

The focus of Katie’s dissertation work is on understanding pain and opioid challenges in cancer survivors. In her early research work, she has examined biopsychosocial factors associated with long-term opioid use, highlighted parallels between palliative care and substance use disorder treatment, voicing the need to combat substance use disorder stigma, and examining opioid prescribing practices. Her research is currently funded by the Foundation of Addiction Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the National Institute of Nursing Research. 

Katie’s long-term goal is to become an independent palliative nurse scientist with a productive and sustainable program of research that produces actionable knowledge to improve pain management, quality of life and enhances opioid safety in individuals with cancer. Katie also strives to be an active voice in the national conversation of helping individuals suffering from pain and mental health conditions by contributing to sound equitable pain and opioid healthcare policies.

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