Two faculty members from the Fran and Earl Ziegler OU College of Nursing, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, have been named fellows of the Gerontological Society of America, the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging.
Barbara J. Holtzclaw, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and Carol Rogers, Ph.D., RN, PHCNS-BC, CNE, will be formally recognized in November during the GSA’s annual scientific meeting. The induction honors their outstanding work the field of gerontology, including research, teaching, administration, public service, practice and participation within GSA.
Both registered nurses, Holtzclaw and Rogers have had distinguished careers in education and research since entering the academic realm. Their involvement with GSA has furthered that work by connecting them with collaborators and resources across the nation.
“We’re very proud of the work that Drs. Holtzclaw and Rogers have done to improve the care of elders,” said Gary Loving, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Public Health. “Research and service related to geriatric nursing has been a top focus for the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing for many years now. These two scholars exemplify that focus.”
Holtzclaw and Rogers have made significant contributions to the field of nursing – and the larger health care system – through their individual areas of research. Holtzclaw’s research focuses on thermoregulatory responses in vulnerable populations. Her investigations have centered on “the metabolic cost of shivering” – the energy cost to patients whose bodies try to recoup heat by shivering. This occurs, for example, when a patient who undergoes open-heart surgery begins to warm up after being cooled down for the procedure. It also occurs when the body turns up its internal thermostat to cause a fever.
Holtzclaw has studied the violent shaking that occurs when immunosuppressed patients with cancer get fungal infections and are intravenously given a drug called amphotericin B. The body responds strongly to the drug, running a fever and shivering, which is the body’s way of warming itself up. Holtzclaw studied the same process in fever management of patients with HIV and as a possible mechanism in older adults who experience night sweats.
“I’ve been researching the effects of temperatures changes in the body for a long time, and most of the populations I’ve worked with have been older adults,” she said.
Rogers’ research focuses on helping older adults age in place and maintain physical function. People overwhelmingly want to live out their lives at home surrounded by their support system. But when people begin to lose balance and function, there’s usually a tipping point when they can no longer live at home.
Rogers is researching the effectiveness of Sign Chi Do, a mind-body-spirit exercise, mostly with people who attend community senior centers. She measures how Sign Chi Do affects their balance, strength, flexibility and endurance, as well as the cardiovascular response of the intervention. She also studies the effect of Sign Chi Do on sleep and fatigue symptoms in women with a history of breast cancer.
“Quality of life is the overarching goal,” Rogers said. “When people can’t take care of themselves functionally, it can also lead to depression and other psychological problems. It affects social interaction and so many aspects of life.”
In the OU College of Nursing, Rogers serves as assistant director of geriatric training programs, and Holtzclaw is associate dean for research and associate director of translational geriatric science for the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Geriatric Excellence.
“Teaching future nursing researchers is gratifying because of the passion and insight the next generation will bring to the improvement of health care,” said Rogers. “Nurses have a lot of clinical insight from working with patients, and they want to improve their patients’ outcomes. It’s rewarding when you see students begin to understand the needs of older adults.”