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George Awarded Fulbright for UWI Project

Professor Maureen George, PhD, has received a U.S. Scholar Fulbright research award with University of the West Indies (UWI). 

The first aim of George’s two-part project will be to deliver Writing to Improve Nursing Science (WINS), a program Professor Emerita Elaine Larson, PhD, developed to build scientific writing skills among nurse scholars in low- and middle-income countries, to the UWI faculty. WINS has been implemented successfully across Africa and in the Middle East and is funded through Columbia University’s Global Awards. 

“The goal is at the end of running the WINS program, that there’s at least one publishable manuscript that comes out of it,” George said. “And everyone’s a co-author, so we give some faculty in these partner universities the opportunity to learn firsthand how to write a scholarly paper … and have it published.”  

The second aim of her Fulbright work is to implement a community-based participatory research project to develop and test an intervention to support breastfeeding modeled on her own work training clinicians to use motivational interviewing and shared decision-making to improve chronic disease self-management outcomes. George and her team have found the approach is effective in asthma and are testing it in another type of chronic lung disease.  

When George asked her UWI colleagues how her skill set could help them meet the community’s needs, they suggested adapting this chronic disease model to a wellness model to promote breastfeeding. 

“We’re going to take something I do mostly in respiratory disease and try to adapt it by collecting data from clinicians and pregnant and new mothers around breastfeeding to develop a curriculum that we would then share with clinicians and lactation consultants, to see if we can improve women’s intentions to breastfeed across initiation of breastfeeding, maintaining breastfeeding, and exclusive breastfeeding,” George explained.  

“We would train these clinicians and lactation consultants and probably women in the neighborhood who are local resources; they don’t have to necessarily be a health care professional,” she added. “We would train them in how to motivate and engage therapeutically to enhance someone’s own motivation to do something.” The project will also include a pilot trial of the intervention. 

George was awarded a “flex” Fulbright, which allows her to break her field work into shorter visits and continue her responsibilities as director of Columbia Nursing’s PhD program. She expects to begin visiting UWI in 2024.  

Columbia Nursing’s faculty boasts two Fulbright alums,  Gregory Alexander, PhD, and Ana Kelly, PhD. Kylie Dougherty, a 2023 PhD graduate, is currently completing her Fulbright project in Ethiopia, and Vice Dean of Academic Affairs Judy Honig, DNP ’05, was recently chosen to be a Fulbright Specialist and will be matched with institutions requiring her expertise.