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Himmelfarb Headlines - November / December 2010

Faculty Profile - Kimberly D. Acquaviva, PhD, MSW; Director, The National Collaborative on Aging; Assistant Professor, The GW School of Nursing
Dr. Kimberly D. Acquaviva

Himmelfarb Library continues this feature in our newsletter that lets us become better acquainted with our friends and colleagues in the Medical Center. In this issue we learn more about Dr. Kimberly D. Acquaviva, PhD, MSW, Director of the National Collaborative on Aging, and Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing.

Tell us a little bit about your current position or research/projects. My current position is Director of The National Collaborative on Aging, an interdisciplinary collaboration between clinicians, educators, and researchers at The George Washington University Medical Center and community-based professionals in the National Capital Region and beyond. In my role as Director, I administer The National Collaborative on Aging Faculty Awards Program, an annual competitive program designed to provide GWUMC faculty members with funding to develop pilot studies with significant potential for substantial future research funding. I also provide intensive assistance to faculty interested in launching or strengthening a research agenda in aging. For faculty members who have written a draft of a funding proposal but need expert editing assistance to get the proposal ready for submission, I work with them directly or connect them with a professional NIH grant editor on contract with The National Collaborative on Aging. The National Collaborative on Aging also supports a portion of Dr. Sam Simmens' time so that he is available to assist faculty throughout the GWUMC with the biostatistical aspects of aging-related projects and proposals. In addition to the pilot funding, biostatistics support, and external grant writer/editor assistance that The National Collaborative on Aging provides faculty, I've been able to provide intensive grant writing and editing services on GWUMC proposals that have yielded more than $32 million in grant funding since I came to GW. I love developing research projects and writing grant proposals, so my teaching assignments in the School of Nursing bring me quite a bit of joy. I teach graduate-level nursing courses in research methods and grant writing, among others, and also serve as a psychosocial faculty member teaching in the Doctor-Patient-Society/Practice of Medicine course in the Medical School.

What has been your biggest professional challenge? My biggest professional challenge has been mustering (and sustaining) the courage to commit to a truly interdisciplinary career in academe. For newly-minted PhDs, the path to success seems to be fairly disciplinary in nature: you graduate with a PhD in X, you seek a job as a faculty member in a Department of X, and you eventually earn tenure based on your outstanding research and teaching contributions to the field of X. There is comfort to be found in taking a well-trodden path: you know many others have walked the same path before you and you know generally where the path leads. I value the importance of the disciplines and the role that scholars play in advancing their respective disciplines, but at the same time, I've always been attracted to the possibility of creating new paths for the health care disciplines to walk together, side by side, in order to achieve things none of the disciplines could achieve in isolation. Being a social worker teaching in a School of Nursing means that I have the world's most amazing job doing what I love, but at the same time, it means that there are no role models to look to for reassurance that the path I've chosen is a "safe" one. And you know what? I've finally come to love that. It's difficult to be innovative and cautious at the same time. I'm incredibly fortunate to work somewhere that challenges me to blaze new paths.

What has been your most memorable moment at GW? Because I work with innovative, collaborative colleagues, I've had a lot of memorable moments since I came to GW. One day in particular stands out, though: the day the GW Board of Trustees approved the formation of the GW School of Nursing. That day, it hit me just how much we had accomplished together in the five short years since the Department of Nursing Education was established. At the same time, I was struck by a sense of excitement about the work that lies ahead. This is an amazing time to be working at the GW School of Nursing - the next ten years are sure to be filled with many more memorable moments.

What library resources or services have you found to be the most useful? It's difficult to narrow my answer down to something that will fit in a paragraph. Himmelfarb Library offers so many resources and services that enhance my work as an educator and researcher. I use RefWorks to gather articles for literature reviews so that I can access and cite them quickly when I'm writing on an article, grant proposal, or book chapter. My students and I appreciate the availability of Himmelfarb's "Text a Reference Librarian" service (Text "himlib: your question" to 265010 Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-8pm, Friday 8:30am-5pm, and Saturday 12:00n-4:00pm). I've also found the Distance Education resource portal to be incredibly useful for students and faculty alike:

How do you spend your free time? When I'm not at work, I enjoy spending time with my partner Kathy, our 11-year-old son Greyson, and our dogs Dizzy (Lab/Beagle mix) and Zippy (Chesapeake Bay Retriever/Beagle mix). Every few weeks in the summer, we head to our cabin in West Virginia for a weekend of hiking, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, and "unplugging" from the technological tethers of our everyday lives. I enjoy hand-piecing quilts, knitting misshapen hats, and attempting household repair projects for which my level of ambition greatly exceeds that of my skills. The sense of satisfaction I get after staining a piece of furniture pales in comparison to the joy I get listening to my son laugh at the fact I somehow managed to splatter stain all over myself head to toe and I can't get it to wash off for two weeks. Grey has Tourette Syndrome so it's especially important to me that he learn to embrace life's challenges with gusto, attempt the impossible with optimism, and laugh and learn from his foibles and failures. Achieving incredible things means that sometimes, you're going to have incredible failures. I try to role model that for Grey by telling him not only about my successes at work but also about my mistakes and failures. Mistakes and failures are great teachable moments because they provide me with opportunities to show Greyson that how we deal with failure is far more important than whether we fail.

What advice would you give to a new faculty member just starting at GW? Whenever new faculty members come to me for advice, I tell them that the secret to a successful and enjoyable career at GW is collaboration. Collaborating with colleagues both within and outside your discipline gives you the opportunity to accomplish far more than you could ever do alone. Collaboration expands your thinking, increases your opportunities for doing research, and strengthens your skills as you work with others who have talents that differ from your own. To get the most out of collaboration, you need to deliver 110% when asked to collaborate and expect 70% when you ask others to collaborate. This will help you consistently exceed expectations and will prevent you from getting disenchanted by your collaborators. When your colleagues deliver more than 70% (and they will, almost always), you'll be pleasantly surprised and you'll want to keep collaborating.

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