Burke, Mary

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Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
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Mary Ellen Burke, MSN, RN, CNM, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Nursing, has more than 10 years of experience in teaching and mentoring undergraduate students in both the classroom and clinical setting.
Before coming to the University of Massachusetts she was a full-time Associate Professor of Nursing at Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA. In 2006 she was the campus facilitator for a Health Professionals Educational Consortium RN Hybrid pilot program in which she coordinated and mentored seven undergraduate students in an intensive Associate Degree hybrid nursing program.
She received her BSN from Rutgers University, College of Nursing in New Brunswick, NJ and her MSN from Case Western Reserve University, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Cleveland, OH. She received a Certificate in Nurse-Midwifery from the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden, KY. She recently completed a Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the University of Massachusetts, Worcester.
She began her nursing career as an RN in Labor and Delivery at St. Peter’s Medical Center, New Brunswick NJ and worked in a variety acute care settings as a Maternity staff nurse. Before teaching full-time she worked as a clinician at Tapestry Health Systems, a Title X funded clinic providing gynecological care to women in Western Massachusetts. She is of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and a Nurse-Leader Member of Sigma Theta Tau International.

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  • Publication
    Stop the Stigma! Eliminating Implicit and Explicit Bias Toward Adult Obese Women Receiving Gynecological Care: A Quality Improvement Project to Cultivate Empathy and Increase Knowledge of Best Practices
    (2018-01-01) Burke, Mary Ellen
    Background: Increased weight carries significant health risks, yet obese individuals face stigma, implicit and explicit bias by health care providers that affects quality of care and increases health care avoidance. Obese women may delay or avoid gynecological care due to fear of stigma, inadequate equipment and embarrassment about their weight. Review of Literature: In the United States, 70.7% of adults, almost three quarters of the adult population are overweight or obese. Purpose: The purpose of this quality improvement project was to improve the quality of care and empathy toward obese women by health care providers in an OB/GYN practice through education about the experiences of obese women who receive healthcare and provision of resources within OB/GYN practices. Methods: A quality improvement project with an educational design was implemented using a Plan, Do, Check, Act framework. The plan was implemented at an OB/GYN practice in Western Massachusetts using a team approach consisting of the DNP student, providers and staff. The Thin-Fat Implicit Bias Test and Anti-Fat Attitudes test were administered pre-and post-educational program to assess change in provider bias toward obese women. Results: A decrease in explicit bias was shown both immediately and 3 months after the intervention. There was minimal decrease and some increase in implicit bias after the intervention which may be related to confounding factors such as increased familiarity with the testing procedure. At 3 months some participants were avoidant at follow-up suggesting possible shame, embarrassment, or deeper feelings which merit future exploration. Conclusions: Continued education and awareness is needed to sustain and decrease stigma toward obese women in the health care setting.