UVA Nursing Graduate Finds He's in High Demand

U.S.A. Virginia


UVa nursing graduate finds he's in high demand

By Bob Gibson / Daily Progress staff writer

May 21, 2005

After seven years as a University of Virginia student, Randy Jones will be walking Sunday in a graduation procession down the Lawn for the third time.

Getting the third degree from UVa - a doctorate in nursing - causes Jones to confess excitement and places the Prince Edward County native in an enviable quandary.

As one of a very small number of African-American males in the country with nursing Ph.D.'s, Jones finds himself in great demand and has six faculty and research positions to choose among.

He applied for a faculty position at UVa and is mulling an offer there as well as five other offers from Texas to Richmond and New York.

The number of black males with a doctorate in nursing "is less than 20 - total in the country," Jones said. "Many men don't think about being a nurse and for minorities it's even less," he said.

After earning a degree in biology as a premed student at Hampden-Sydney College in 1998, Jones learned to love nursing as a profession in Charlottesville.

He liked the hands-on nursing care, the variety of opportunities in many different areas of medical care, the research that professors offered and the chance to learn about helping patients in more holistic ways.

Jones has studied the use and value of prayer and spirituality in health care as well as herbal medicines and other alternatives.

He completed a dissertation examining the use of complementary and alternative therapies by black men with prostate cancer, including prayer and herbal medicine.

Of the 14 Central Virginians surveyed, he found the chief alternative therapy employed was prayer, Jones said.

"It seems like that was used as a coping mechanism," he said. All the men underwent traditional medical therapies for their cancer, and prayer was "more of a comfort measure for them to have some kind of hope that things would get better for them."

He wants to continue research in the use and value of spirituality in health care and into health care disparities across America.

"It's still unclear why African-American men have such a high incidence of prostate cancer compared to whites," Jones said. As with many other diseases as well, a multitude of factors may be at play from low socioeconomic status to high underemployment and non-insurance rates and distrust or fear of a medical profession that causes many to delay seeking health care or miss needed screenings.

"It's a trust issue," Jones said. Aware of Tuskegee experiments that denied treatment for black men with syphilis into the 1960s, many African-Americans "fear if they go into a research study, who knows what might happen to them," he said.

Many black Americans lack insurance and feel they simply do not have enough money to seek early health care treatment. He wants to do more research "and figure out far more ways to decrease the morbidity and mortality rates, particularly with prostate cancer."

Ann Gill Taylor, Jones' doctoral adviser, said his goal "is to certainly pursue studies within African-American populations ... and how then to address" disparities.

"He's an excellent student," Taylor said. Mature, soft-spoken and highly motivated, "his whole personal and professional demeanor is one of openness and pleasantness and positiveness."

Jones said he likes the closeness that students and faculty have in nursing at UVa. During his seven years in Charlottesville, he received a bachelor's degree and a master's, both in nursing.

"I just want to be where I can be in the best fit with an institution and the institution can be the best fit for me," he said. He plans to make a decision about which faculty offer to accept within the next week or two. "I would really like for him to stay here," Taylor said.


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