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October 24, 2003

Kathryn Barnard to receive leading nursing award

Dr. Kathryn Barnard, a leading UW nurse researcher best known for her work with infants at risk for developmental problems, will receive the 2003 Episteme Award, one of the most prestigious in nursing, from Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing.

The society will present the award to Barnard, the Charles and Gerda Spence endowed professor in nursing, on Monday, Nov. 3, during Sigma Theta Tau International’s 37th Biennial Convention in Toronto. As Episteme Laureate, Barnard, who received her Ph.D. from the UW in 1972, will deliver the keynote speech on Scientific Sessions Day at the convention.

The award, given for a major breakthrough in nursing knowledge development that has resulted in a significant and recognizable benefit to the public, recognizes Barnard’s contributions to nursing science and the health of infants and their families. For more than 30 years, Barnard has devoted her career to research, education, practice improvements and political activism on behalf of vulnerable infants and their families.

Barnard’s findings changed the way that health care providers evaluate children and helped care providers understand the key role that early intervention plays in preventing problems in behavior, thinking and emotional development. Her research forms the basis for an internationally recognized education program that teaches nurses and other health care professionals how to identify at-risk infants. Through her Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training (NCAST) program, these methods have reached 17,000 health care professionals in 20 countries.

In 2001, she founded the multidisciplinary Center on Infant Mental Health and Development at the UW, a center that develops, tests and applies therapies that foster the socio-emotional health of infants at risk, and trains interdisciplinary providers in their use.

“The Episteme Award from Sigma Theta Tau International is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for nursing,” said Dr. Nancy Woods, dean of the School of Nursing. “It is reserved for people whose research has truly made a difference in the delivery of health services. Kathryn Barnard’s record is an exceptional example and illustrates well why she is deserving of this award.”

Barnard has “truly created opportunities for infants around the world to thrive in a safe and nurturing environment,” said Dr. Kristen Swanson, professor and chair of the Department of Family and Child Nursing. “By teaching mothers, nurses, community workers and, ultimately, politicians about the importance of care that is delivered contingent upon infants’ cues, Dr. Barnard has had a major influence on the care of infants worldwide.”

The Baxter International Foundation provides a $15,000 research award to the Episteme winner.