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Commitment to student success drives doctoral graduate


May 06, 2011

After attending nursing school in her home town of Brooklyn, N.Y., Maribeth Gallagher’s life took an adventurous turn. She moved to San Francisco after graduating with her RN and launched a 30-year career as a professional singer.

Today Gallagher has come full circle as she returns to her roots in nursing. She is utilizing her experiences in life and music as a source of inspiration and knowledge that she applies to helping and caring for patients with dementia.

Entertaining abroad in Europe and Asia brought a new sense of awareness to Gallagher as she realized the power of connecting to people through music. Over the years she had many profound experiences, but one of the most impactful was providing care for her mother-in-law diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This experience created a sense of self awareness and brought her to her calling.

“The experience was eye-opening and deeply moving. I felt called to work in the field of hospice care for persons with dementia,” reflects Gallagher. “By entering the field, I hope to be able to improve the experience for patients and their caregivers.”

Gallagher enrolled in graduate school at ASU, hoping to integrate her knowledge of music and caregiving into her work with dementia patients, particularly those at end of life. She selected the adult psychiatric mental health specialty to maximize her ability to serve her patients.

As a nurse practitioner and musician providing hospice care for people with dementia, she has discovered how music can serve as a method to connect with people even in the most advanced stage of dementia.

According to Marianne McCarthy, associate professor for the ASU College of Nursing & Health Innovation, “Maribeth has always been one of the most outstanding students that I have had the pleasure to work with. Her stellar evidence-based practice project involves the effects of music on agitation in patients with advanced dementia at end-of-life.”

Gallagher will be graduating as a Doctor of Nursing Practice specializing in adult psychiatric mental health. She is nationally recognized as a leader in dementia care and has served as the director of the dementia program at Hospice of the Valley for over five years.

She has had articles accepted for publication in professional journals, including the International Journal of Palliative Nursing and the Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing. Her post-graduation plans include collaborating with experts on local, national and global levels to set standards of excellence for palliative dementia care.

Gallagher’s passion for music and assisting persons with dementia has inspired her tailored approach to care, resulting in a uniquely positive impact on the lives of patients and their caregivers.

Contributed by Latezia Fletcher, College of Nursing & Health Innovation