bowles

A Penn School of Nursing professor is being honored for her contribution to nursing research on the international level. Her mentee says she changed her life, and her mentor said she works tirelessly to improve the outcome of medical treatment for older adults.

Kathryn Bowles, a professor of biobehavioral health sciences, was selected for induction into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame by Sigma Theta Tau International, the honor society of nursing. She was one of 23 individuals to be selected for induction.

Bowles is being honored for her research that led to the discovery of a set of high-risk factors that determined which older patients were most likely to need continued skilled care after discharge.

“I think [I was selected] because of my contributions to improving discharge planning from the hospital,” Bowles said. “The algorithms [we developed] have been highly successful in identifying patients who need care, and when the algorithm’s advice is followed we are able to reduce readmissions. We’ve improved processes of care and improved patient outcomes in the end.”

Bowles’ research led her to co-found RightCare Solutions, within which she helped developed the "Discharge Decision Support System" to advise medical professionals on how to assess patients for post-acute care needs. The International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame induction criteria also highly values a researcher’s contribution to mentoring younger researchers.

“I’ve got a long history of mentoring pre- and post-doctoral students, and my students have been highly productive and successful mentees,” she said. “They help make me look good as a mentor, and that’s a big part of why they choose people for these awards.”

One of Bowles’ mentees, Melissa O’Connor, who received her doctorate in Nursing from Penn said Bowles' mentorship has been invaluable, and was crucial in her decision to pursue graduate studies at Penn.

“Meeting Kathy changed my life,” O’Connor wrote in an email. “Kathy being inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame does not come at all as a surprise. In working with Kathy, I wanted to have an impact on the lives of patients and health care like she was doing. She is an amazing nurse scientist and a wonderful person.”

Bowles also attributed much of her success to her own mentors. Nominees for induction into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame must be nominated by a mentor in Sigma Theta Tau International. One of Bowles’ mentors at Penn Nursing, gerontology professor Mary Naylor, believed Bowles deserved the honor.

“I could not be more proud of Kathy. Her selection as a member of Sigma Theta Tau’s International Nurse Researchers Hall of Fame is a richly deserved recognition of her outstanding scholarship,” Naylor said in an emailed statement.

“I’m just really thrilled and honored to receive such tremendous recognition. Several of my other colleagues at Penn Nursing have received this, and they’re all people I look up to," Bowles said. "Some of them have been my mentors. It’s a real honor to be placed in the category with those kind of nursing leaders.”

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.