More AlumniAndres E. Carrillo
Roland J. Thorpe
April J. Stull
Tetyana P. Shippee
John Spruill III
Aleda Chen, PhD ('11)
At present, Dr. Chen is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Cedarville University, where she continues her research on aging, related to the social/behavioral aspects of health care. Her current work focuses on the impact of health literacy in heart failure, patient motivation to perform self-care, and health professional student empathy toward older adults. In addition, Dr. Chen has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, presented research nationally and internationally, is actively involved in several professional organizations, and continues to work periodically as a community pharmacist.
What do you remember best about your time in the Gerontology Program?
My fondest memories are related to the courses I took as part of the Gerontology program. Through these courses, I was able to learn from esteemed faculty members in other disciplines about the life course, and the friendships I made and interactions I had with graduate students from other disciplines I will always treasure. They challenged me during discussions, both in and out of class, and I was able to learn much about aging and healthcare from the perspective of other fields. I still keep in contact with many of the CALC associates and former/current graduate students today.
Who were your mentors and what attributes did they have that helped you?
I was blessed to have several mentors who challenged me in the classroom and in research endeavors: Dr. Ferraro, Dr. Sands, and Dr. Fingerman, to name a few. However, my two most influential mentors were Dr. Kim Plake (Pharmacy) & Dr. Karen Yehle (Nursing). They believed in me, encouraged me to pursue my goals, and taught me to become an independent researcher. Drs. Plake & Yehle brought their unique areas of expertise to their collaborative research and challenged me to view healthcare research from an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach.
How did you get interested in gerontology?
Older adults have shaped my life in many ways through relationships, caregiving, and work. I have had many close relationships with older adults (family members and friends) throughout my life, especially since my mother was a family caregiver over a span of 21 years. As a pharmacy intern and as a pharmacist, I encountered many older adults. In many of those situations, I witnessed patients and caregivers struggle to understand the healthcare system and to function within it. The experience of being on opposite sides of the healthcare system (as a family member and as a healthcare professional) prompted me to try to improve the healthcare system for patients and for family caregivers.
What experiences did you have at Purdue that helped form your current career?
While at Purdue, I was given the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary research team, which extended from pharmacy & nursing to include engineering, nutrition, and computer science. I learned that collaborating and approaching problems within the healthcare system from a multidisciplinary perspective leads to better and more comprehensive solutions, as each member brings unique strengths and perspectives on the problem and potential solutions. Now at Cedarville, I am working on research projects that include multiple disciplines and multiple institutions. Having the opportunity at Purdue to write internal and external grants as well as work on research projects from conceptualization to dissemination has enabled me to develop my own research agenda as a new faculty member. Additionally, taking courses outside my discipline taught me the value of education across disciplines. Therefore, in the course I will be coordinating, there will be perspectives presented from multiple disciplines, so that students will understand the value of examining healthcare from other viewpoints.
Anything else you would like to add?
I came to Purdue specifically because of CALC. I couldn't find any other university that offered me the opportunity to study the life course from an interdisciplinary perspective. I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to spend 5 years learning from & working with the faculty, staff, and students of CALC.