Dr. Barbara Head

Affiliated Faculty, Associate Professor

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Preparation of students to work on interprofessional teams and development of the social work and nursing workforce is essential to the practice of quality palliative and hospice care.

Dr. Head worked as both a nurse and social worker at a large hospice program in multiple roles before entering academics: home hospice nurse, director of quality and compliance, and director of staff development and community education. She entered doctoral studies in 2002 due to her interest in teaching on the college level and doing research related to palliative care and oncology. Her dissertation developed an instrument to measure financial well-being as a component of quality of life for cancer patients. Upon receiving her PhD from the Kent School of Social Work, Dr. Head was appointed as a faculty member in the School of Medicine.

For several years, Dr. Head focused on use of telehealth to assist patients in managing the side effects of active cancer treatment. She has since led the grant-funded development of interprofessional curriculums in palliative care and community- based geriatric care. She has also studied job satisfaction in hospice and palliative nursing assistants and nurses as well as compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction in palliative nurses and social workers with the goal of improving work environments and self-care. She has taught end of life care to nurses nationally and internationally through the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium.

Most recently Dr. Head served as Principal Investigator on a project funded by the Moore foundation to develop and implement a specialty certification for palliative and hospice social workers. Three hundred and fifty-one social workers were certified in this specialty in 2019.