SAS Alumni Spotlight: Myrna McLaughlin-Anderson

SAS Alumni Spotlight: Myrna McLaughlin-Anderson

This spotlight focuses on Dr. Mryna McLaughlin-Anderson. She is a recent alumna of the Doctor of Health Administration program in the School of Advanced Studies.

Dr. McLaughlin-Anderson is based out of Panama and currently serves as both a Clinical Professor with the University of Panama Nursing College and as an adviser to the Ministry of Health. For the latter, she is involved in the following: (1) development of the non-communicable diseases National Plan, (2) implementation of the National Plan for Cancer Control and Early Detection, (3) National Palliative program, and (4) National Cancer Registry. Her research interests align with this work as she continues working on cancer research to eliminate the gaps between early diagnosis and treatment.

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Since completion of her degree in late October 2015, Dr. McLaughlin-Anderson has already seen the following successes:

  • She has been accepted to present a poster of her work at the Transcultural Nursing Society conference in Cincinnati this October 2016.
  • She has been named as an award winner by the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care, to be awarded at the conference this September in Hong Kong.
  • She has been accepted to present a paper of her research at the ISNCC conference in Hong Kong this September.
  • She was also invited to write about disparities in cancer care in Panama by the Asian Oncology Nursing Society, to be published in their journal, the Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing.

Dr. McLaughlin-Anderson was nominated by one of her committee members, Dr. Francine Nelson, following the incredible results of her efforts to publish.

While serving as a cancer nurse clinician, providing care in both the private and public health systems, and as an educator, Dr. McLaughlin-Anderson became aware of the need to work on public national laws to promote cancer prevention and early detection. “My focus was access for those with greater disadvantages, living in poverty without access to the health system.  The defining moment for my doctorate was the need to find resources to improve the actual health policies in my country in a way that non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, could be prevented.”

Some of the lessons she learned while completing her degree included the importance of setting smaller goals and working daily to accomplish the bigger goals, the importance of collaboration, and the importance of focus. Most importantly, she realized the importance of applying research to the real world, and vice versa. She said, “Each one of the courses during the journey offered the opportunity to research, and relate the knowledge with the real situation of the health system nationally and internationally.  During my doctoral journey I was prompted to use my experience to translate it into research, in a way that those results can be applied to improve the health system.”

When asked how earning her doctorate has impacted her professional and personal lives, she notes several benefits of pursuing her doctoral degree, in addition to the real-world application. Her leadership skills improved: “I went from a champion to a leader in my practice. I started to work collaboratively to build capacity with the team.” She also cites an increased flexibility in her thinking and the confidence that being an expert has created. She adds, “Most importantly, I am in the position to learn every day and assume new challenges.”

Dr. McLaughlin-Anderson is just one of many examples of top-notch students and alumni pursuing research here within the University. Many congratulations on the completion of your doctoral journey and best wishes on all your ongoing and future research pursuits!