UCF alumna MeLisa Gantt earned her Ph.D. in nursing in August 2010 through a full military scholarship.
While a student, Gantt served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Nurse Corps and conducted research in the area of stress and hypertension in soldiers.
Since then she has continued to focus her research on the relationship between hypertension and stress disorders in service members, but is also looking at complementary and alternative approaches to stress, as well as the effect pain and sleep have on cardiovascular response.
FROM SECRETARY TO NURSE RESEARCHER
In the early 90’s Gantt obtained a position as a civilian secretary at the Pentagon. She was inspired to be in the presence of so many military men and women.
“I had the honor of working in one of the Joint Staff offices under General Colin Powell during Desert Storm and remember passing the late General Norman Schwarzkopf in the halls,” said Gantt.
Gantt then resigned from her federal position and enlisted in the military as an operating room technician and continued to take college classes at night. A classmate soon discovered that Gantt had accumulated a lot of college credits and suggested that she go to nursing school and become an operating room nurse.
“I can’t say that nursing was my calling but I serendipitously met people along my path who were instrumental in guiding me to the amazing destination where I am today,” said Gantt.
DISSERTATION AND NEW RESEARCH STUDIES
Gantt’s dissertation, “The Effect of Combat Exercises on Cardiovascular Response: An Exploratory Study” focused on stress and hypertension in soldiers. Her findings showed that psychological stress, as well as physical stress, had a tremendous impact on the cardiovascular system.
Currently Gantt is working on two funded research studies. One study is looking at the efficacy of binaural beat technology on anxiety and sleep.
“Binaural Beat Technology is a sound technology that affects brainwave patterns,” says Gantt. “I am assessing if this technology can help decrease anxiety enough so that a person can get a good night sleep and in turn have a positive effect on their cardiovascular response.”
The second study is looking at the efficacy of Reiki (a biofield energy therapy) on neuropathic pain in service members who have sustained extremity trauma.
This fall she is writing a new research proposal to test the efficacy of other sound modalities such as shamanic drumming, signing bowls, and resonance tuning on sleep quality.
“I believe I have made an impact on the individuals within my studies,” said Gantt. “My goal for 2015 is to get this information out!”
SERVING OVERSEAS AND DEPLOYMENT
Gantt is now the chief for the Center for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Her responsibilities include overseeing a team of nurse scientists and clinical nurse specialists who design, implement, manage and evaluate nursing research and evidence-based practice initiatives within the European Regional Medical Command.
“Besides this, I’m still heavily involved with my own research and have existing studies at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, both in the Washington, D.C. area,” Gantt says.
Recently she returned from her deployment in Afghanistan where she served as the deputy director of the Joint Combat Casualty Research Team. There she collected data for ongoing studies that evaluated casualty care given by medical care professionals within the armed services. Their primary focus was to assess the injuries treated and to determine whether or not they are able to improve the care given to treat that specific type of injury.
“People depend on nurses. They put their trust in you to help them get better. As a Ph.D. nurse, it’s now what can you do to contribute back to science,” explains Gantt.
In 2012, Gantt received the college’s Alumni Professional Achievement Award for the impact she has made both as a nurse and military researcher.
“I would have never guessed in a million years that today I would be a Lieutenant Colonel serving as a medical researcher for the European Medical Command. That young secretary back at the Pentagon has come a mighty long way.”
As she reflects on her time as a Ph.D. student, Gantt says the overall UCF experience was positive and she’d like to return one day so she can pass the torch on to new scientists. “To have a first-hand experience with a nurse who has been at the bedside of a warrior, I think that can help educate people who have not yet worked with military populations,” she says.
Article Written by Ivanna Alayon