Jean Tang finds unexpected ways to reduce human suffering and, in the process, receives considerable acclaim for her work.
Tang’s scholarship targets vulnerable populations—older adults and those with mental disorders, in particular. Her goal is to empower patients to have greater control over their own health.
A Seattle University faculty member since 2005, Tang received a research fellowship sponsored by the National Institute of Nursing Research to explore individualized care for at-risk aging adults.
In one research project, she discovered music isn’t especially effective for lowering blood pressure or promoting sleep for older adults. For an article in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, she explored alternative ways to manage stress with a 12-minute CD offering guided audio relaxation, a self-help tool that significantly lowers blood pressure. Tang says that while it’s not a replacement for medication, there’s exciting documentation to indicate that brain and heart plasticity is possible, even at an advanced age. Managing their own health decreases symptoms for older adults and gives them a greater sense of autonomy, according to Tang.
Recently she was awarded a competitive Claire Fagin Fellowship and spent 18 months on leave from her SU teaching responsibilities at the University of Pennsylvania, supported by a collaborative effort of the American Academy of Nursing and the John A. Hartford Foundation. Nationwide, the Hartford Foundation funded just nine Centers of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, each of which had only one Claire Fagin fellow. SU forged a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, which made it possible for Tang to pursue this fellowship focused on geriatric nursing and healthy aging.
In the mental health field, Tang is a leader in advocating for better treatment of people with Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. After surveying nurse practitioners and naturopathic physicians across the United States, she discovered inadequate strategies for treating those with ADD/ADHD. While there were similarities between the two disciplines in their treatment approaches, conventional medicine focused on medication management while naturopathic medicine emphasized nutritional support. She now promotes interdisciplinary collaboration, which she says provides patients with better care.
Tang says her body of work demonstrates how nursing is an applied science that empowers patients to lead more fulfilling lives.