Song to be inducted into Sigma Theta Tau Researcher Hall of Fame

By Andy Goodell | Woodruff Health Sciences Center | March 2, 2018

Mi-Kyung SongMi-Kyung Song, a Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing professor, will be inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame this July at their 29th annual ceremony in Melbourne, Australia.

Song is a nationally- and internationally-renowned researcher in palliative and end-of-life care. She is an authority on end-of-life communication, treatment decision making, and surrogate decision making. Her prolific program of research is focused on improving the quality of life and end-of-life care for individuals with chronic illness.

Song was recently awarded two five-year National Institutes of Health R01 grants totaling $6.4 million. For the first of these grants, Song is working to modify an advance care plan that she developed and tested to promote open, honest discussions among all who are affected by mild Alzheimer's disease before the dementia progresses to an advanced stage where patients no longer participate in such discussions meaningfully. The advance care planning approach Song's NIH studies will use is known as "Sharing Patient's Illness Representation to Increase Trust," or SPIRIT.

The second grant is centered on adopting and testing SONG in targeting patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers or surrogate decision-makers. The SPIRIT program has many strengths. These include the fact that it is theory-based, culturally-sensitive, and nurse-led. This intervention promotes early, open, and honest end-of-life care discussions between patients and their surrogates.

Song is a prolific researcher. To date, she has more than 70 internationally-renowned, peer-reviewed journals in nursing, interdisciplinary palliative care, critical care, and nephrology. This includes 35 as a first or corresponding author. She also has a long history of presenting her research, having conducted presentations nearly 90 times, with around 25 of these presentations taking place internationally. Her work has earned her more than 1,100 citations by other researchers, as well. Song is also a nursing research leader, having taken on the role of principal investigator on six NIH grants (5 R01’s and one R21).

With an eye for the future of research in palliative and end-of-life care, mentorship has been a big part of Song’s role as a nursing researcher. She leads the Emory School of Nursing’s Center for Nursing Excellence in Palliative Care, helping educate the next generation of palliative care providers and scholars. Song has also mentored many pre- and post-doctoral trainees and junior faculty. She has chaired and served on dissertation committees for 13 pre-doctoral students, served as a DNP project Chair, and mentored four MSN student theses. Through her research, teaching, and mentoring, Song is influencing practice, improving care, and leading the way toward increasingly data-based, cost-effective improvements in end-of-life-care.