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Past Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Ramona T. Mercer

Photo: Ramona MercerClass of 1962

Ramona Mercer received the 2004 UNM College of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award. Her exceptional achievements in nursing through publication, education, research, clinical practice and leadership have been well demonstrated throughout her career. She is professor emerita of Family Health Care Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). It all began in 1950 when she received a diploma from St. Margaret’s School of Nursing in Montgomery, Ala. For the next 10 years she worked as a staff nurse, head nurse and instructor. She earned a bachelor of science in nursing degree with distinction from the UNM College of Nursing in 1962, and a master’s degree in maternal child nursing from Emory University in 1964. She served on the faculty at Emory University for five years, leaving to pursue her doctorate in maternity nursing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Ramona is best known for her pioneering work in the transition to the maternal role and the development of a maternal role identity. Her research interest in early mothering began while on the faculty at Emory where she studied maternal adaptation to breastfeeding. She began with a study of mothers who had an infant with a birth defect (1971-1973). She focused next on teenage mothers during their first year of motherhood, and collaborated in a cross-cultural comparison of mothers’ responses to cesarean and vaginal births. An original paper on maternal role attainment served as the beginning of her middle-range theory development, and provided the framework for her research comparing three age groups of mothers (15-19, 20-29, 30-42) over their first year of motherhood (1979-1982). In collaborative investigations, she examined transitions in the lives of mothers and non-mothers aged 60 to 95, and the impact of maternal hospitalization during pregnancy on mothers’ and fathers’ transitions to parenthood and their family functioning during their first eight months following birth.

The practicing nurse, the nurse researcher and other health care professionals find Ramona research findings of particular interest. Her research has provided information that clinicians can use to make a difference for new parents and their infants with positive outcomes. Additionally, the research has contributed to a greater basic understanding of mothering.

Ramona’s professional activities have included service on national and state committees. She has served on several editorial and review boards for journals, as a content expert and as an invited speaker on many panels and roundtables. Her publications include 88 journal articles, six books and several book chapters and her research results have also been reported in several lay magazines. She was named a living legend by the American Academy of Nursing in 2003.

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