Associate Professor

University of Nebraska Medical Center
College of Public Health

Professional Summary

Both a nurse and a scholar, her areas of expertise are in health care humanities and ethics. She is involved in two areas of research including exploring the integration of the arts and humanities with clinical care and in exploring ideas that shaped the history of nursing care.

Current research projects include the “Portraits of Care” Project and the “Teaching Observational Skills Project.” In both projects, Dr. Aita worked with artist-in-residence Mark Gilbert. In the portrait project, Aita and co-investigators studied the relationship and dimensions of care between patients and caregivers as depicted in portraits done by Gilbert. In the observational skills project Aita, Gilbert and co-investigators study the effectiveness of teaching medical students observational skills using methods drawn from the arts. A third research project employs historical methods and is entitled, “History and Philosophy of 20th Century Nursing Ideas about Care.”

Courses Taught

Involved in ethics teaching, and clinical ethics consultation.


  • PhD, Graduate College, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 1995
  • MS, College of Nursing, University of Maryland, 1970
  • BSN, College of Nursing, University of Iowa, 1966

Selected Publications

  • Crabtree, B.F., Miller, W.L., Tallia, A.F., Cohen, D.J., DiCicco-Bloom, B., McIlvain, H.E., Aita, V.A., Scott, J.G., Gregory, P.B., Stange, K.C., McDaniel, R.R. (2005). Delivery of Clinical Preventive Services in Family Medicine Offices. Annals of Family Medicine. 3(5):430-435.
  • Aita, V., McIlvain, H., Backer, E., McVea, K., Crabtree, B. (2005). Patient-centered care and communication in primary practice: what is involved? Patient Education and Counseling. 58: 296-304.
  • Aita, V., McIlvain, H., Susman, J., Crabtree, B. (2003). Using metaphor as a qualitative analytic approach to understand complexity in primary care research. Qualitative Health Research. December, 13 (10): 1419-1431.
  • Tallia, A. F., Stange, K. R., McDaniel, R., Aita, V., Miller, W. L., Crabtree, B. F. (2003). Understanding organizational designs of primary care practices. Journal of Healthcare Management. 48 (1): 43-58.
  • Aita, V.A., Dodendorf, D. M., Lebsack, J. A., Tallia, A. F. and Crabtree, B. F. (2001). Patient care staffing patterns and roles in community-based family practices. The Journal of Family Practice. October, 50 (9): available electronically.
  • Aita, V.A. (2000). Science and compassion: Vacillation in nursing ideas 1940s-1960. Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice: An International Journal. 14 (2): 115-138.

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
  • Member, American Association for the History of Medicine
  • Member, American Nurses' Association
  • Member, Nebraska Nurses' Association
  • Member, Sigma Theta Tau

contact virginia aita

984395 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-4365
986075 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-6075
Phone:  402-559-5157
Fax:  402-559-3773