Hamilton Receives One of Nursing's Highest Honors

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rush College of Nursing associate professor Rebekah Hamilton, PhD, RN, was selected for fellowship into the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) and will be honored at the October induction ceremony in Washington, D.C. This is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a nurse in his or her career.

The American Academy of Nursing is comprised of more than 2,200 nurse leaders in education, management, practice, policy and research. The AAN fellows include hospital and government administrators, college deans and renowned scientific researchers. Fellowship selection criteria include evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care and sponsorship by two current AAN fellows. Applicants are reviewed by a panel comprised of elected and appointed fellows, and selection is based, in part, on the extent the nominee’s nursing career has influenced health policies and the health and well-being of all.

Hamilton is a member of the Department of Women, Children and Family Nursing, and her research interests are in presymptomatic genetic testing for adult onset diseases such as hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. As the principle investigator, she has completed studies examining influences on decision-making after genetic testing and what it is like to live with predictive genetic test results.

Hamilton’s contribution to the profession is research-driven theory development that advances patient-centered care, methodological innovations, and novel curriculum development in the emergent field of genomics-driven health care. Her data-based theory of genetic vulnerability provides health care stakeholders an with informed view of individual and family experiences surrounding genetic testing. Key factors discovered are the influence of family history, the actual process of genetic testing, living with a forewarning of genetic risk and the uncertainty of facing one’s own mortality brought on by this genetic threat. In 2013, Hamilton was recognized by colleagues in the International Society of Nurses in Genomics with the distinguished Founders Award for Research.

The continuing development of the theory has profound potential to educate clinicians nationally and internationally, change practice, and inform policy development to ensure a comprehensive appreciation of the powerful influence of genomics advances for adult-onset diseases on the person and family. Current and future research involves study of family systems after genetic testing, generational differences in risk perception and management, and how the next generation approaches predictive genetic testing for adult-onset diseases.