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Inaugural Woltman scholar named for unique commitment to palliative and end-of-life communications


INDIANAPOLIS — Chia-Chun “CC” Tang, a graduate student pursuing her Ph.D. in nursing science at the Indiana University School of Nursing, has been selected as the first recipient of the Richard and Kaye Woltman Endowed Fellowship in Health Communications for the 2014-15 academic year in recognition of her endeavors in palliative and end-of-life communications.

Tang earned her master’s degree in the nursing program at Johns Hopkins University, where she worked as an oncology clinical nurse specialist caring for terminally ill cancer patients before pursuing her Ph.D. in nursing science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She also completed a three-year study abroad program in Taiwan focusing on evaluating and teaching nurses communication competencies.

“Through these advanced opportunities, I could see more work was needed to improve the quality of life for cancer patients receiving palliative care,” Tang said. “In this role, I developed the passion for and persistence in formulating my program of research.”

The Richard and Kaye Woltman Endowed Fellowship in Health Communications is a one-year endowed fellowship of $5,000 that enables an IU School of Nursing graduate student with an interest in palliative and end-of-life communications to attain a higher understanding of strategies to improve communication with seriously ill patients and their loved ones. By developing current students through this fellowship, the Woltman family, the RESPECT — Research in Palliative and End-of-Life Communication — Center and IU School of Nursing hope to promote excellence and build upon positive communication with the next generation of nurses and caregivers.

This program is supported through a generous gift from the Richard and Kaye Woltman family and is directed by School of Nursing adjunct faculty member Lucia D. Wocial, in collaboration with School of Nursing associate professor Susan Hickman.

“CC was chosen as the first Woltman Scholar due to her commitment to palliative care research and attention to detail when communicating with patients,” Wocial said. “With her culturally diverse background, CC is attentive to the sense of clear communication needed when speaking to people of diverse backgrounds, ethnicity and cultures.”

Over the next year, Tang will attend RESPECT Center’s monthly meetings, as well as the RESPECT Conference on March 5 in Carmel, Ind. She will participate in The Woltman Interdisciplinary Communications Scholars Program, which is a one-year training program for health care providers who wish to improve teamwork with colleagues and advance communication skills with patients and families. She will also assist with other details related to the RESPECT Center and the Woltman Interprofessional Communication Scholars Program, as well as producing regular reports detailing activities that contribute to the fellow’s ongoing development in the area of palliative and end-of-life communication.

“Some goals I hope to accomplish in this year are to contribute both to academic and clinical practice by being a leader in nursing academe with a primary focus as a nurse scientist. Through teaching and mentoring I want to provide the next generation of nurses with the expertise on quality communication,” Tang said.

This fellowship will exist in perpetuity, continuing to enable graduate students to focus their studies on communication during end-of-life and palliative care in the hopes of a brighter future for caregiver-patient relationships.

The RESPECT Center, founded in July 2010, is one of only eight official campus-level signature centers. This prestigious honor recognizes the tremendous success of the RESPECT Center in supporting faculty in obtaining funding as well as in growing the national reputation of IUPUI and Indiana University for expertise in palliative and end-of-life care.

The Indiana University School of Nursing is the largest nursing school with undergraduate to Ph.D. and DNP programs in the country. IU School of Nursing was recently ranked ninth among public institutions for National Institutes of Health funding, and U.S. News and World Report ranked the graduate programs 15th in the nation.