Tondi Harrison

I am currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing. My area of expertise is pediatrics, and my research is focused on infants with congenital heart defects. These infants demonstrate impaired ability to regulate autonomically controlled neurobiologic processes, such as those revealed in feeding and arousal. My dissertation study is designed to describe the relationship between maternal feeding behaviors and physiologic and arousal regulation in infants with CHD. The long term goal of this research is to identify specific maternal behaviors that contribute to physiologic and arousal regulation in these infants and to develop interventions directed at supporting mothers in interacting with their infants in ways likely to enhance these critical functions. I will begin recruitment this fall and expect to complete data collection within 12 months. My dissertation study will serve as the foundation for my research program as well as provide me with the opportunity to develop the skills needed to design and implement subsequent studies.

My basic nursing education was in a diploma program at Fairview Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I subsequently completed my bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan and master’s degree at Case Western Reserve University. Although I have worked as a staff nurse and as a manager, the majority of my career has been spent as a pediatric nurse practitioner providing primary health care to children and families. When I complete my doctoral program, my primary professional goal is to continue the program of research begun with my dissertation study. This will likely be as a faculty member in a research intensive university where I will also have the opportunity to contribute to nursing education related to children and families.

Throughout my career, I have advocated for the support and advancement of nursing practice and for the improvement of health care for children through active involvement in professional nursing organizations. I was very active in the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, serving on the board for eleven years in several capacities, including president. My work focused on advocating for education and services to improve the health of children, including planning educational conferences, participating in national and state legislative events, and communicating with membership about legislative concerns. As a member of the Michigan Nurses Association, I worked with a core group of advanced practice nurses to lead state-wide efforts to secure independent prescriptive privileges by coordinating legislative visits, recruiting nurses in key districts to contact legislators, and presenting testimony at Senate health committee hearings. After completion of my doctoral program, I look forward to the opportunity to resume activities in professional organizations including the American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Society for Research in Child Development.