Thursday February 23rd 2017

ANF scholar works to better understand HIV prevention

Tanyka Smith

Tanyka Smith, MS, FNP-Certified, RN, a PhD student at the New York University College of Nursing received a 2010 American Nurses Foundation (ANF) research grant made possible by the generosity of donors who support nursing innovation through research. ANF’s work with nurse scholars helps nurses like Smith advance the profession. We sat down with her to find out more about her research and how ANF has helped her achieve her research goals.

Why did you decide to pursue a doctoral degree, and what in health care did you want to change?

My decision to pursue a doctoral degree in nursing stemmed from my desire to eliminate health disparities among underserved populations. I have been in the nursing field for more than 13 years.  In the years following my undergraduate experience, I worked extensively in the emergency department with ethnic minority populations who generally had poor health and lacked preventative health care. A master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner provided me with the skills necessary to provide comprehensive primary, holistic preventative health care for underserved populations in urban ambulatory settings. However, in the day-to-day realities of practice, I realized that as a master’s-prepared nurse, I was not fully equipped to construct and implement evidence-based health interventions that could truly prevent diseases like HIV, diabetes, and hypertension.  Doctoral-level training lets me conduct scientific research in areas relevant to clinical care of minority and otherwise disadvantaged population groups and develop interventions that get to the core of health issues.

At what health outcome or intervention is your research focused?  How will it help nurses?  How will it help patients?

I am focused on understanding and addressing health disparities among ethnic minorities — with a specific focus on HIV prevention in African-American women. My research examines socio-cultural factors that contribute to HIV risk among older African-American women, now among the fastest growing populations of new HIV cases. By examining variables, such as gender power dynamics and attitudes, beliefs, and other theoretical constructs specific to this population, I hope to develop new insight into the complexities of HIV risk among older African-American women and what is needed to provide effective, culturally relevant, and age appropriate health care.

What did your ANF research grant enable you to do?

I conducted a preliminary qualitative study entitled “Sexual Protective Strategies and Condom Use among Older African American women.” The results of this qualitative study shaped my current quantitative dissertation study and guided the adaptation of the instruments used in my dissertation. The ANF funding was vital in providing me with the foundation for gaining “hands on” experience as a novice nurse scientist that is essential for my ultimate development into an independent researcher.

What do you wish the public knew more about nursing?

Nursing is a multifaceted profession that goes beyond the bedside and encompasses unending scholastic development and leadership. The nursing profession builds knowledge and leadership through education, research, cultural competency, advocacy, and program and policy development. Nurses collaborate with other disciplines to improve health outcomes of individuals, families, and communities.

For more information on how you can support nursing programs

— Kate Judge is the executive director of ANF.

4 Comments for “ANF scholar works to better understand HIV prevention”

  • Racquel Anderson says:


  • sapphire ahmed, md, mph says:

    I know that Nurse Tanyka Smith has the mission driven mission to help in reforming health care in the USA. She understands as most healers understand; that it is the government’s continued decision not to enforce the right to equitable health care as a human right that is largely the cause of the past and persisting disparities in health and education in the USA. I applaud her trying to help heal in a very sick medical industry that is driven by profiteers. She most certainly deserves this opprotunity.

  • Carolyn Pierce says:

    Tanyka- We are so proud of you here at Binghamton University!! And we look forward to your continued success. Keep in touch!!
    Best, Carolyn

  • Christopher Mighty says:

    Let me first express my elation for you in reaching this major milestone. This accomplishment has only laid the foundation for greater developments in your field. Many have studied extensively, and have received worldwide recognition for their scholarship, but have not have never become known for executing the work which their “work” addresses. Your unrelenting commitment to touching people’s lives in a very tangible way has not only been seen, but felt by many. I hope that the world will get to know you; not only by your publications but by the testimonies of those whose lives you have and will touch.
    May God continue to bless you as you continue to “… heal the brokenhearted… preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” in America, and other parts of the world.
    I am truly proud of you!

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