Melissa Batchelor-Murphy

Q&A with Melissa Batchelor-Murphy, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN, from the Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, North Carolina.

batchelor murphyMeet Melissa.

“Learn to use social media as a way to translate your top-tiered, peer-reviewed publications into a format the public can understand, and to build your professional network.”

Q: How long have you been a GSA member?
A: I joined GSA in 2007 as a doctoral student. I was interested in the support the Emerging Scholar and Professionals Organization (ESPO) provided to students, and the opportunity to meet and connect with experts in the field during the annual conferences. Two programs sponsored by the John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF) facilitated engagement with GSA early in my career: The Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Excellence (BAGNC) as a pre-doctoral scholar, and the National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) as a post-doctoral fellow.

Q: How has membership in GSA benefited you?
A: I have benefited from GSA membership the most through the annual conferences and the interest groups. The annual conferences helped me to build an interprofessional network of leaders in the field of aging.

Q: How did you get interested in the field of aging?
A: When I was in nursing school, there were no faculty with expertise in geriatrics at my school. As a senior nursing student, I declared “I will never work in a nursing home, and I will never work with older adults.” A month before graduation, I accepted my first professional position in a nursing home, working with older adults. That’s when I found out that geriatrics could and would be the most rewarding work of my life, and I never left! As a dually certified as a Gerontological Registered Nurse (RN-BC) and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC), I have only worked in long-term care settings. My story of entering geriatric nursing was captured by the JAHF, and now serves as a recruitment video for the field (

Q: Why is it important for other individuals to join GSA?
A: GSA serves its members by connecting aging researchers from all disciplines around the world. The annual conference is a time and place for scientists to connect and share ideas, and keeps us updated on policy issues throughout the year with the monthly newsletter. It’s always been a must-read to find out what other members are doing and what “Hot Topics” GSA is focused on.

Q: Are you a member of a GSA Interest Group?
A: I am a member of the Nursing IG and Nutrition IG.

Q: What are your key responsibilities at your job?
A: I am a tenure-track faculty member of Duke University School of Nursing. My primary responsibilities with are as a nurse scientist, and educator. I teach Advanced Practice Care of the Older Adult to our nurse practitioner students in the Master’s program. And this year, I am participating in the Health and Aging Policy Fellows program – a program I learned about while at a GSA annual conference when it started.

Q: What is your most memorable patient experience?
A: Most memorable patient experience was taking care of a lady I met when she was 103 and living in the nursing home where I visited as a FNP. She was the first pediatric nurses in Wilmington, NC where I worked at the time. She was extremely hard of hearing, fiercely independent, and kept falling into her closet while picking out her clothes each day. The facility wanted to restrain her, against my (and her!) wishes. After a very long discussion with her, she very clear that she was not at all interested in using her call bell, keeping her door open, OR letting someone else put her clothes on her bed for her to dress herself – but if the staff came in to help her, she’d work with them every time. Alarms were tried, but she insisted on keeping her door closed and her television volume on full blast, meaning the staff couldn’t hear the alarms when they went off. After weeks of this merry-go-round of allowing her independence and autonomy, but knowing we also needed to keep her safe, the ultimate solution is a story I’ve told for years to my students. The maintenance man saved the day! He knew how to wire the alarm from the mat in front of her chair to the exterior of her bedroom door. When she stood up, the alarm sounded in the hallway where staff could hear it! She got to keep her television volume on full blast, with her door shut, and we got to keep her safe.

Q: Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists?
A: I would say to learn to use social media as a way to translate your top-tiered, peer-reviewed publications into a format the public can understand, and to build your professional network. All major conference now have “Behind the Scenes” action, where professionals are using social media to connect and share the conference activities. In October of 2016, I presented a webinar for GSA Emerging Scholar and Professional Organization, and in 2017, presented at the National Academy of Medicine, Sciences, and Engineering to share my story of how I’ve used social media and technology in my research, as an educator, and     join the conversation for issues related to aging. Cultivating your online presence is critical in today’s world, and a great way to boost your career.

Q: Tell us a little about your most recent activities/accomplishments.
A: I was also inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in October of 2017, and promoted to Associate Professor December 1, 2017. And as I mentioned, I am a current Health and Aging Policy Fellows program. This program is sponsored by the JAHF and Atlantic Philanthropies. I am extremely honored to be serving on the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), gaining hands-on legislative experience.

Q: Have you had an important mentor in your career? If so, how did it make a difference?
A: My career really took off after I attended the Geriatric Nursing Education Consortium, when I met my first two mentors: Drs. Mathy Mezey and Claudia Beverly. The rocket-boosters were added when I was awarded the BAGNC Scholar and NHCGNE Fellowship; the support of these two programs solidified my career trajectory as a nurse scientist. My primary mentor for both of these programs was Dr. Elaine Amella at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing, and she played a critical role in helping me build an interprofessional network at GSA and other conferences, and provided opportunities as an emerging scholar. Once at Duke, Dr. Ruth Anderson helped me grow into my role as a researcher and build a research team, including Drs. Cathleen Colon-Emeric, Eleanor McConnell, Connie Bales, and Cornelia Beck (before she retired!). There are many, many more mentors who have been supportive of me and my career over the years - and I am thankful for all of them; and opportunity the annual GSA conference gives me to reconnect with them each year.

Want to ask Melissa a question? Contact her on GSA Connect!

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