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Alumni Profile: Amanda Coakley '81, P'19

Nurse Scientist, Munn Center for Nursing Research, Massachusetts General Hospital

Photo by MGH Photography

Mandi Coakley is entering her 37th year at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and her career as a nurse scientist has evolved from patient care toward research, education, and project management, with a specialized focus on therapeutic touch and integrative healthcare interventions. She is passionate about providing care solutions for hospital patients and nursing staff that are "non-invasive, non-pharmacological, and focused on the mind-body connection, such as mindfulness, diet, meditation, pet therapy, and exercise."

"I love everything about working in healthcare," said Coakley, who has worked at MGH since graduating from Lasell. "There are so many career opportunities, great people to work with, and new things emerging all the time."

As a principal research investigator on a variety of healthcare modalities, Coakley conducts focus groups and collects data on therapies that can assist patients with hospital-stay-based anxiety and discomfort. Though these non-invasive procedures don't place Coakley on the front-lines of patient care, her work has led to the implementation of hospital-wide programs integrating pet therapy and improving practices when working with patients with autism.

"We currently have 19 inpatient units at MGH that have pet therapy visits with dogs," said Coakley, who received her doctorate in nursing from Boston College. "Pet therapy offers an intervention that can help with patient despondency and offers a connection to the outside world."

In addition, Coakley has delivered presentations across the United States and the world to colleagues in the field, and can also be found in the classroom at a number of New England higher education institutions where she teaches courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate level.

"Many students share with me the challenges they see in healthcare with cost containment, short length of stay for patients, and increased patient acuity," she said. "I like to, in turn, show the students the importance of good leadership, strategies, and research to help improve care for the future."

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