August 16, 2010 — Linda Bullock's introduction to the University of Virginia School of Nursing came when she was a Talbott Visiting Professor at the school in spring 2009.
"I was overwhelmed by the caliber of the Ph.D. students, the mentoring they receive and what they accomplish while they're here," she said.
Now she has joined the U.Va. faculty as the first Jeanette Lancaster Alumni Professor in Nursing, a chair funded to honor the former dean of the nursing school, who stepped down in 2008 after 19 years.
Bullock, who comes to Charlottesville after having served as a nursing professor at the University of Missouri, in January will also become director of the Ph.D. program, in which she will play a key role in developing the next generation of nursing researchers.
"They're getting a first-class education at U.Va. and we're growing great nursing researchers," she said. "My goal is to build on what's already here, mentor these students and continue to build up research capacity in the School of Nursing."
Her own work is certainly a model for young researchers. Beginning when she was a master's student, she was the first to provide empirical evidence of the connection between domestic violence during pregnancy and low infant birthweight.
She went on to develop an innovative nurse-delivered, telephone-based, social support intervention to reduce stress-induced responses to abuse – such as smoking – and to improve developmental outcomes for infants exposed to abuse. She conducted four randomized, controlled trials with pregnant women and their children in Missouri, backed by funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institute of Child and Human Development.
Her current research focus continues with children and the effects of stress on their health. One area of research examines children exposed to domestic violence, with particular interest in exploring why these children demonstrate delays in language development.
She is also studying the effectiveness of addressing maternal smoking during pregnancy by focusing on the male partners; if her partner smokes, it is more difficult for a pregnant woman to quit. Bullock is researching the effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy for male partners as a mechanism to help pregnant women quit, even though their pregnancy prevents them from using nicotine therapy themselves.
Bullock's arrival at U.Va. and her planned assumption of the Ph.D. program are closing a circle. Barbara Parker, who ran the Ph.D. program for 12 years, has been a mentor since Bullock did her seminal study as a master's student at Texas Women's University. Arlene Keeling has led the program on an interim basis this year.
"Barbara Parker and Arlene Keeling are wonderful mentors, so this is a strong program," Bullock said. "It's one of the reasons I wanted to come here."
At the University of Missouri, Bullock has worked closely with policymakers to address statewide policies and research agendas on domestic violence.
She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a member of the Missouri Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, the American Public Health Association, the Nursing Research Consortium on Violence and Abuse, and the Nursing Network on Violence and Abuse International. From 2006 to 2010, she was a member of the Nursing Science Children and Family study section at the National Institutes of Health.
After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from Texas Women's University¸ Bullock went to the University of Otago in New Zealand for her Ph.D. in public health and became the first nurse appointed to the faculty of the Christchurch School of Medicine.
In 1997, she joined the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, where she became professor of nursing in 2003.