Photo by Becca Sabot
Mary Anne Elder
Educational Program Director, Manager of Clinical Research
Allergy & Asthma Specialists, PA
“Nursing is not a passive profession,” says Elder. “Nurses do more than wait for someone to tell them what to do. I do not think the public always appreciates the independent assessment and decision-making nurses make every day.”
Perhaps it’s that lingering “failed doctor” fallacy, which especially surrounds nurse practitioners. “We are not ‘wannabe physicians.’ The philosophical, educational, and clinical background of nurses is different from and augments the rest of the health care team.” In Elder’s case, research is a big part of that. She manages a clinical research division across two sites, including protocols, staff assignments, and project and personnel management. The research she’s working on is dramatically improving the health of people with chronic respiratory issues. “We are now able to build targeted therapies in laboratories—engineering monoclonal antibodies in an individual way to modify disease states.” And it’s making a huge impact with patients.
But, says Elder, neither new drugs nor new technologies trump the human aspect of her work. “A lot of technology helps us confirm what we believe to be wrong, but I don’t think it should replace looking at, talking to, and touching patients. Human beings require touch, relationships, and trust. ”