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Saint Louis University Nursing Professor Honored by National Society for Work in Palliative Care for Children

by Bridjes O'Neil
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Bridjes O'Neil
Communications Specialist

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ST. LOUIS — Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D., the Irene Riddle Endowed Chair and professor at the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing at Saint Louis University, was honored with the 2024 Distinguished Researcher Award by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).

The award was presented at the 49th Annual ONS Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The Distinguished Researcher Award recognizes the contributions of a senior nurse scientist who conducts or promotes research that enhances the science and practice of oncology nursing. 

A headshot of Verna Hendricks-Ferguson.
Verna Hendricks-Ferguson, Ph.D. SLU file photo.

"We are very proud of Dr. Hendricks-Ferguson and her work's impact on families," said Kristine L'Ecuyer, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Nursing. "It is wonderful to see her contributions recognized with this award."

Hendricks-Ferguson was invited to deliver a keynote lecture, “My Journey in Developing a Program of Funded Research,” and is only the fourth pediatric oncologist to receive the award. 

Hendricks-Ferguson’s research career includes serving as principal investigator on multiple funded research studies, including pioneering work in early palliative-care communication practices by pediatric oncologists and nurses to the parents of children diagnosed with a poor prognosis type of cancer. 

She has received funding from the National Institute of Health, nursing organizations and foundations, and university and hospital-sponsored grants. Over the course of her career, Hendricks-Ferguson published numerous data-based articles focused on pediatric oncology patients, which have frequently been cited by other investigators.

She was also lauded for her committed effort to mentor nurses in cancer-focused research and advance quality cancer care by pediatric oncology nurses. She has served as an oncology expert on dissertation committees for Ph.D. nursing students in the U.S. and internationally who are studying adult or pediatric oncology topics.

Hendricks-Ferguson’s commitment to generating and disseminating palliative and end-of-life-focused research findings has contributed to being honored with several nursing honors, including the 2022 Distinguished Researcher Award by the National Association of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Nurses. 

She participates in many professional organizations where she demonstrates her continued passion and commitment to pediatric palliative care/end-of-life care for children with cancer and their parents. 

ONS is a professional association representing 100,000 nurses and is the professional home to over 35,000 members. ONS is committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. Since 1975, ONS has provided a professional community for oncology nurses, developed evidence-based education programs and treatment information, and advocated for patient care, all to improve the quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families.