A CAREER DEFINED BY CARING

Looking back at her career in nursing research, Linda E. Pollack, Ph.D. '88,A.R.N.P., sees her life as a continuous effort to help individuals cope with mental illness.The University of Miami's first Ph.D. nursing graduate, Pollack decided to pursue a doctorate in nursing based on her experiences as a psychiatric nurse collecting data for others' investigations.

"I'd been involved with research at the Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center for several years," she recalls of her participation in a National Institutes of Health-funded project on patients with diabetes. "I liked the process of research, the intellectual stimulation, and thought I could make a contribution."

Pollack, who holds an M.S.N. in psychiatric nursing, considered a number of doctoral programs before learning that UM was launching its own program in 1985. She fondly remembers lectures by visiting nurse scholars. Mostly, though, she recalls the support of faculty and fellow students and the classes on qualitative research that launched her own investigations into group therapy for individuals with bipolar disorder.

For more than a decade, as a faculty member at the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center's School of Nursing, Pollack used her research findings to develop a self-management model of inpatient group therapy specifically for individuals with bipolar disorder and addiction.

When asked why she chose a doctorate in nursing, Pollack points to the perspective nursing brings to the research arena. "The scientific method is the same regardless of who's doing it. Only the focus and the problems are different," she says."My focus, for example, was never on curing bipolar disorder but on helping patients cope with the disease."