Environments, and life within those environments, captivates and fuels the research passion of Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN, Associate Professor and Director of the Villanova University M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing’s Center for Global & Public Health.

Ruth initiated the Global Health Minor aiming to make a difference for the next generation and inspire students with similar global interests. Her area of expertise is public health nursing with a focus on global and environmental health.

With over 20 years of teaching experience, Ruth’s program of research relies on qualitative methods to gain insight into the needs of vulnerable populations and to promote health access for them. Her early work used phenomenological methods to study the experiences of female Omani nursing students in the United States after they returned home, as well as strategies to promote U.S.-Omani student peer learning.

In Philadelphia, she has studied the effectiveness of community health workers in Arab immigrant communities and provided breast health education to Arab-Muslim immigrant women. In Waslala, Nicaragua, she has engaged in a telehealth project to improve health-care access in remote regions.

Studying for a post-doctoral master’s degree in public health, Ruth gained greater insights into population-based research methods and environmental health. In Summer 2018, she will use community based participatory research methods to identify health concerns of a community in northeastern Pennsylvania that is undergoing fracking (the active extraction of natural gas using unconventional hydraulic fracturing).

With the goal of healthy communities, through her science she promotes healthy environments to enhance quality of life and prevent disease.

Ruth believes climate change is our greatest public health threat. For example, the Finnish population is at risk due to significant increases in air temperature. As a Fulbright Scholar, Ruth’s teaching and research in Fall 2018 will focus on the health impacts of climate change in Finland. She will teach two courses at the University of Eastern Finland’s new Nursing Masters in Public Health program and conduct a mixed method study. The purpose of Ruth’s research is to identify practicing Finnish health care providers’ (HCPs) perspective of the health impacts of climate and their perception of their educational preparation to address climate-related health needs.

The secondary purpose of her study is to inform medical and nursing educators of areas of professional and circular development that can be implemented to address the identified climate change health impacts.

As the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) was formed in 2008, its founders conceptualized an e-textbook related to the issues of health and environment.

On November 11, 2016, the free, open-access textbook Environmental Health in Nursing went live.

“As front-line health care providers, nurses can make a difference in identifying and responding to environmental health risks and exposures, so this e-text is offered widely to help nurses, nursing students, and nursing faculty be prepared to address those risks and exposures within their practice settings,” explains Ruth. She is an inaugural member of ANHE, chairperson of the education workgroup, and co-editor for this textbook.

We look forward to honoring Ruth’s decades of work, and her ongoing initiatives which will continue to scale her gifts for research, teaching, and advocacy. By addressing the root causes of public health risks, Ruth and those who learn from her, follow her teachings, and carry on these important missions will continue to make a tremendous difference for millions of people.

It’s an honor to recognize Ruth and her work on May 11, at the Nurses With Global Impact event timed with International Nurses Day at the United Nations.

– Deb