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Kent State Nursing Professor Honored by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (04/08/2009)

The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) has presented its Leading the Way Award to Kent State University Assistant Professor Dr. Denice Sheehan and New York University Associate Professor Dr. Deborah Witt Sherman. The award recognizes nursing leaders who have been consistent in “leading the way” in hospice and palliative nursing, demonstrating a deep and abiding commitment to furthering the philosophy, mission and quality of palliative care.

“We are delighted to present Dr. Sherman and Dr. Sheehan with this award,” says Judy Lentz, R.N., M.S.N., N.H.A., chief executive officer of HPNA. “The enormous contributions these two individuals have made to hospice and palliative nursing is inspirational and should stand as an exemplary model for other practitioners in the field.”

Sheehan, Ph.D., R.N., teaches graduate and undergraduate level courses at the Kent State College of Nursing. Before her professorship with Kent State, Sheehan served as coordinator with the Palliative Care Program at Ursuline College Breen School of Nursing in Pepper Pike, Ohio. She is a native of Twinsburg, Ohio.

In the area of research, Sheehan as extensive experience investigating the interaction patterns between parents with advanced cancer in hospice and their adolescent children. She has given presentations on the topics of communication near the end of life, nursing research, palliative care, palliative nursing in academia and decision making at the end of life. Sheehan’s work has been published in numerous journals and texts including the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Textbook of Palliative Nursing and Hospice and Palliative Care: Concepts and Practice. Since 1999, Sheehan has served on the Advisory Board and Faculty of the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium.

“We couldn’t be happier for Dr. Sheehan’s honor,” says Laura Dzurec, Dean of the Kent State College of Nursing. “She has been a blessing to our college and to the nursing community with all of the invaluable research she continues to be involved in. She is also well respected by our students and serves as a great role model as to the type of professional our students may become one day.”

Sherman, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., A.N.P.-B.C., A.C.H.P.N., F.A.A.N., is a tenured professor in the division of nursing at New York University, where she has also served as acting director of the doctoral program in nursing and coordinator of the advanced practice palliative care master’s and post-master’s certificate programs. Sherman also provides palliative care and education across seven skilled nursing and assisted living facilities as palliative care nurse practitioner and educator at the Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut, Danbury, Conn.

As an accomplished researcher, her interests include breast cancer education and counseling, palliative and oncology care, quality of life, symptom management and AIDS/HIV. She has presented widely and published extensively on a variety of subjects relating to end-of-life and palliative care, including patient fatigue, culturally competent care and suffering of the caregiver. Her work has also appeared in the publications American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine and American Journal of Nursing. In 2008, she received the Outstanding Contribution to the College of Palliative Care from the Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Sherman also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Pain and symptom Management.

“The leadership demonstrated by these individuals has been outstanding,” says Lentz. “Through their dedication, skill and commitment, both awardees have enjoyed great success and HPNA is proud to recognize their exceptional efforts.”

About HPNA

Celebrating its 23rd anniversary with nearly 10,000 members, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) is a national non-profit organization of nursing professionals specializing in end-of-life care and pain management. Its mission is to promote excellence in hospice and palliative nursing care. Established in 1986, HPNA is the only nursing organization of its kind. It is part of the Alliance for Excellence in Hospice and Palliative Nursing which includes the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation and the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses. Together, the organizations are working to lead the way in the advancement of the rapidly growing and increasingly important hospice and palliative care nursing specialty. To learn more, visit HPNA at, call 412-787-9301, or e-mail

The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation supports research and education for nurses and health care team members working in end-of-life care and serves as the fundraising are of HPNA. Please visit for contribution and donation information.


Media Contacts:

Kathy Donchess,, 330-672-8747

Kevin Brosien,, 330-672-8589


This page was last modified on September 8, 2009