Nursing Scholar Receives March of Dimes Grant Award

Patricie Suplee

Particia Suplee is an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden.

A Rutgers University–Camden nursing scholar has been recognized for a research study on maternal and infant health outcomes of minority women living in underserved urban communities.

Patricia Suplee, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, received the March of Dimes Margaret Comerford Freda “Saving Babies, Together” Grant Award from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses. The award is presented annually to a researcher whose work reflects the common commitment of the March of Dimes and AWHONN to promote health among women and newborns.

“I am truly honored to be chosen for this award as it will allow me to continue my work in Camden, focusing on improving health outcomes for urban African American and Hispanic mothers,” says Suplee, a Medford resident.

Suplee earned the award in recognition of her research titled “The Relationship Between Birth Outcomes and Neighborhood Characteristics Within an Urban Population of African American and Hispanic Women.”

For her study, Suplee will analyze birth data to describe maternal health, birth outcomes, and neighborhood characteristics of urban women. Her research team will “geo-code” maternal and infant health variables to create choropleth maps to allow them to assess spatial and geographical relationships between maternal and infant health outcomes.

The study is part of Suplee’s broader scope of research that focuses on improving overall health care for minority women living in underserved communities. In a recent qualitative study to be published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing later this year, Suplee and two nursing colleagues — Lynne Borucki, a clinical associate professor of nursing at Rutgers–Camden, and Marcia Gardner, an associate professor at Seton Hall University — interviewed 13 Hispanic and African American women who delivered their first child within the past six months. According to the study, these women shared a number of concerns after giving birth, including being prepared for discharge from the hospital; confidence in and satisfaction with mothering; providing proper infant care; and an indifference to maternal self-care.

In her study, Suplee notes, “It is vital that nurses collaborate with other healthcare providers to make certain that community connections are made for women who might need additional services upon discharge and beyond the postpartum check-up.”

“Dr. Suplee’s research will advance the health and wellness for two vulnerable populations,” says AWHONN Chief Executive Officer Lynn Erdman. “Her work to translate research into evidenced based practice will ensure improved care and outcomes for underserved women and infants.”

The award was presented at AWHONN’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla. It is named for long-time AWHONN member and nurse researcher Margaret Comerford Freda, the first chair of the March of Dimes Nurse Advisory Council.

Suplee earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and has more than 25 years of professional nursing experience caring for childbearing women.

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