Dr. Heather Young, whose doctoral thesis on resilience and change in older adults led to her involvement in the design of environments that promote healthy aging in local retirement communities, is the new director of the de Tornyay Center on Healthy Aging in the School of Nursing. She will replace Dr. Deborah Ward, interim director and associate professor of psychosocial and community health.
Young received both her M.N. and Ph.D. degrees from the UW School of Nursing and is a research associate professor in biobehavioral nursing and health systems. As a gerontological nurse practitioner who has done extensive research and publishing on topics relating to the care of older adults, she was named “Nurse of the Year” by the King County Nurses Association in 1999.
Young was one of the first nurses to earn a gerontological nurse practitioner degree at the UW, completing her master’s degree concurrently with her doctorate. But rather than practice in the private setting, she turned her attention to research, exploring the role of environments in promoting good mental and physical health.
When Young completed her graduate studies, she became executive director at Ida Culver House Broadview and a research associate professor in the School of Nursing. Eventually, she was chief operations officer for the six ERA Care communities, a position she held until early this year.
She has also continued her nursing research and has been involved at the state level in evaluating new legislative policies that allow older adults to live at home as long as possible.
Young notes that the de Tornyay Center is addressing provider shortages by offering a wide range of nursing scholarships, mentorships and faculty development opportunities, many in conjunction with the John A. Hartford Foundation of New York. The center is named for Dean Emeritus Rheba de Tornyay.