Nursing Alumna, Former Lecturer Returns to UNCW to Conduct Post-doctoral Research

Friday, February 28, 2014

Melissa Batchelor-Aselage, a UNCW graduate and former nursing faculty member, is working with 14 UNCW students to complete her post-doctoral work. With funds from the National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence’s Claire M. Fagin Fellowship and Duke University School of Nursing’s Office of Research Affairs, Batchelor-Aselage is training students to provide feeding assistance to persons with dementia in nursing homes. Three techniques - direct hand feeding, hand-over-hand feeding and hand-under-hand feeding – are being tested. The students will begin working with enrolled residents in four area nursing homes, Cypress Pointe, Davis Health Care Center, Wilmington Health and Rehabilitation and Liberty Commons on Racine Drive, this spring.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me to work with students where I started my career,” said Batchelor-Aselage. “As a key component for helping me to complete my post-doctoral study, these students will gain first-hand nursing research experience, enhance their resumes, and their future careers.”

Batchelor-Aselage earned both a BSN (’96) and MSN (’00) from the UNCW School of Nursing. From 2005 to 2011, she served as a full-time lecturer and was named the UNCW SON Faculty of the Year before earning her Ph.D. in nursing and a Post-Master’s Certificate in nursing education at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing.

Her dissertation focused on alleviating mealtime difficulties in older adults with dementia through development of a web-based dementia feeding skills training program for nursing home staff. It received the Distinguished Dissertation Award from the 2011 Southern Research Nursing Society/Aging Research Interest Group.

After completing her doctorate, Batchelor-Aselage became a faculty member at the Duke University School of Nursing.  She is board certified as both a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Gerontological Registered Nurse.

In the past, Batchelor-Aselage has worked with nursing students from UNCW, UNC, and Duke, but is looking forward to returning to her alma mater and the place where she began her career in nursing.

“These type of collaborations foster the vision of the UNCW College of Health and Human Services and the School of Nursing to enhance the health and quality of life of individuals, families and communities in Southeast NC,” said Deborah Pollard, Interim Director of UNCW's School of Nursing. “This collaboration between Duke University and the SON provides an opportunity for some of our undergraduate students to apply their knowledge of evidence-based practice to a research study protocol and allows them to directly contribute to advancing nursing knowledge.” 

Batchelor-Aselage also received funding as a Project Director for a study funded through the Adaptive Leadership for Cognitive Affective Symptom Science (ADAPT) Center, a Center of Excellence grant funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research P30NR014139. This study will be conducted 2014-2017, and will develop a careful hand feeding dementia skills training program for nursing home staff. This project will be informed by the work the UNCW students are completing this spring semester.