Mark Parshall, PhD, RN
Dr. Mark Parshall is an associate professor in the University of New Mexico College of Nursing.
Credit: Furhana Afrid

An expert in breathing disorders at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing will be honored as one of more than 160 new fellows of the American Academy of Nursing at the organization's upcoming annual policy conference.

Mark Parshall, PhD, RN, an associate professor of nursing, focuses his research on dyspnea -- chronic difficulty in breathing -- a problem that accounts for a quarter of all acute-care hospital admissions.

“I am very honored and humbled to have that recognition from my peers," says Parshall, who has extensive experience in acute care nursing.

In an emergency there is no test that permits doctors to determine the severity of a patient's breathing symptoms or guide them toward a clear course of treatment. “I’ve had patients tell me something like, 'I felt like each breath was going to be my last,'" Parshall says. That type of anecdote that can be combined into a report to help doctors ease a patient’s discomfort. 

“These symptom reports can help us gauge whether patients in severe distress are responding appropriately to our interventions,” Parshall says. He hopes his research will ignite a greater sense of urgency within the medical community about a common condition. “These are highly distressful symptoms," he says. "We don’t seem to have the same kind of social urgency about that kind of distress as we have about pain.”

Parshell, who has taught in the College of Nursing for 14 years, says the academy’s recognition of his work also brings UNM's nursing program into the spotlight. “It helps to increase our visibility," he says. "It helps to lend credibility to all of our efforts.”

The academy will honor Parshall and the other nurse leaders for their outstanding accomplishments in nursing and health care at a conference on Oct. 18 in Washington, DC. They will join the academy’s more than 2,200 other fellows, who come from 50 states and 24 countries.

The academy’s 2014 Transforming Health, Driving Policy conference runs from Oct. 16-18  at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, DC. For more information, visit http://www.aannet.org/2014