Ruth Palan Lopez PhD, GNP-BC, FAAN
School of Nursing
Dr. Ruth Palan Lopez’s “mission” is to improve nursing care provided to older adults; especially those who are frail and near the end of life. “A very important strategy to accomplish this goal is to share my enthusiasm for gerontological nursing and to teach others how to provide high quality care,” she says.
With over 20 years of experience as a gerontological nurse practitioner, Dr. Lopez has been at MGH Institute since 2004. The program is special to her, “Because it supports me to improve nursing care provided to older adults through research, teaching, and service.” Both Lopez and her students benefit from the small class size which allows personal and individualized teaching and learning opportunities.
In addition to teaching, Dr. Lopez is currently working on a Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellowship, doing mentored research work on end-of-life care for patients with advanced dementia. As part of her research, Dr. Lopez has found that caregivers and family members look to nurses for guidance. Her goal is to improve the quality of care in nursing.
She was also awarded a gerontology faculty research grant for her project, "Antecedents to uncertainty in family members of nursing home residents with dementia."
Lopez says she has an intense passion for the importance of nursing, and tries to instill that in her students. Her actual practice experiences are brought back to the classroom in topics such as gerontological theory, living with death, and living with grief. She reminds students that “no matter what the specialty, they will be caring for elderly people.”
She chose to teach at MGH Institute because it supports a creative, out-of-the-box approach to teaching. With the small class sizes, she gets to know students one-on-one, and students get to help in her research.
“I love to explore, investigate, and make novel connections and discoveries, therefore, my favorite part of teaching is the "aha! moments," when a student makes a new connection or sees something in a new light and says, "aha! I got it!"
Dr. Ruth Palan Lopez is Professor and Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Director in the School of Nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions. She received her PhD from Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing in 2004, and completed a John A. Hartford Foundation Claire M. Fagin postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009.
She has more than 25 years of experience as a gerontological nurse practitioner during which time she has developed and implemented innovative programs to improve the care of older adults in both hospitals and long-term care facilities.
In addition, she has had a long standing commitment to nurse practitioner practice and has served as Vice-President of the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners. In 2015 she was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) and of the Gerontological Society of America.
Dr. Lopez has received several awards for her accomplishments in research, education, and clinical practice including, Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Partners in Excellence Award for Outstanding Community Service, and an established researcher award from the Gerontological Advance Practice Nurses Association. In addition, Dr. Lopez was a 2007-2009 Claire M. Fagin Fellow.
Dr. Lopez has achieved international recognition as a visiting expert in geriatric nursing by the Ministry of Health in Singapore. She published significant work in prestigious journals and numerous national and international presentations.
- The needs of nursing home residents with advanced dementia and their family caregivers
- Nurses’ perceptions of end-of-life care in nursing homes
- Family caregivers’ perceptions of treatment decision making
- The influence of nursing home culture on feeding decisions in advanced dementia
- Uncertainty among family caregivers of nursing home residents with dementia
Webb, J., Lopez, R. P., & Guarino, A. J. (2015) Incentives and barriers to precepting nurse practitioner students. Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 11 (8) 782-789 doi
Bell C, Palan R, Mahendra N, Tamai A, Davis J, Amella EJ, Masaki K. Person-centered feeding care: A protocol to re-introduce oral feeding for nursing home patients with tube feeding. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging. [in press]
Franklin, C.M., Bernhardt, J.M., Lopez, R.P., Long-Middleton, E.R. & Davis, S. (2015). Interprofessional teamwork and collaboration between community health workers and healthcare teams: An integrative review. Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology DOI: 10.1177/2333392815573312
Tyer-Viola, L. & Lopez, R.P. (2014) The lived experience of pregnancy and chronic illness. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing 43 (1) 25-37. DOI: 10.1111/1552-6909.12275
Lopez, R.P., Mazor, K.M., Mitchell, S.L., & Givens, J.L. (2013). What is Family-Centered Care for Nursing Home Residents with Advanced Dementia? American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias PubMed # 24085250 NIHMSID #594392.
See Curriculum Vitae for complete list.
BS, Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
MS, Gerontological Nursing, Boston University, Boston, MA
PhD, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania