We spoke with Nilda (Nena) P. Peragallo Montano, DrPH, RN, FAAN, professor and dean of the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, about her research and advice she has for nursing students.
Q: What drew you to specialize in health disparities in underserved populations?
ANSWER: As a nurse, Ive always worked with vulnerable populations. I saw the disparities and wanted to correct them. So it was a natural direction for me to take. Im interested in ways to improve the communitys health, not only for Hispanics but for other ethnic minorities. I want to make a difference in the burden of disease.
Q: Describe some of the biggest challenges these populations face?
ANSWER: The burden of disease some minorities experience is above and beyond other groups. Language and culture also present barriers and can affect health and access to care. We feel it here locally in Miami, where we have a diverse community with a lot of needs. Its an exciting place to be, with opportunities to work to improve health outcomes.
Q: Of all of your research, is there one area of study that stands out, and why?
ANSWER: Ive developed interventions to decrease HIV and sexually transmitted infections for Hispanic women. We were the first to add a component to prevent violence, and we were able to show in the results the intervention increased safer sex practices and reduced intimate partner violence, which was a major accomplishment.
Q: What advice do you have for nursing students about research within the field?
ANSWER: Im a strong advocate for advanced education. The need for generating knowledge, what we do in research, is tremendous, and the need for nurse scientists is increasing. Its important to get students excited about lifelong learning. The world of healthcare is changing, and nursing needs to be on the forefront.
Q: Could you discuss your role as a mentor over the years?
ANSWER: Mentoring is a critical role in academia. Its natural for us to pass on knowledge and to learn from students. The exchange of ideas and support while going through the education process is incredible and can make or break a persons success. As nurses, we always have to be looking to who is coming behind us and stretching an arm to that person. I have great confidence in the future of healthcare.