Meet Distinguished Scientist Karen Schumacher, Ph.D.

April 10, 2014

Image with caption: Karen Schumacher, Ph.D.

Karen Schumacher, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the 16 researchers and one community member who will be honored at an April 21 ceremony. The recipients include the 2013 Scientist Laureate, six New Investigators, eight Distinguished Scientists, two Research Leadership awardees, and a Community Service to Research honoree.

  • Name: Karen L. Schumacher, Ph.D.
  • Title: Associate professor, College of Nursing
  • Joined UNMC: 2004
  • Hometown: Farmington, Mo.

Describe your research briefly in layman's terms.
My main research interest is in family caregiving across the course of cancer treatment. I am interested in what family caregivers do, how they develop the caregiving skills needed, how well prepared they feel to give the care required, and how all of that changes over time. I am particularly interested in the experience of rural caregivers. My research includes interviews, in addition to survey questionnaires, so that we can learn about family caregiving in caregivers' own words.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?
Family caregivers are key partners of the health care team during cancer treatment. Yet we know little about family caregiving during cancer treatment and even less about how it changes over time and the long term effects of caregiving. The overall goal of my research is to develop supportive care interventions tailored to caregivers' specific needs, provided at the time when support is needed most, and delivered in the way that each caregiver finds most helpful.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?
I have been the beneficiary of a lot of good advice over the years. One consistent theme across my childhood, youth, and young adulthood from both family members and mentors was "Get the best education possible."

List three things few people know about you.

  • I have hiked in most of the major mountain ranges in the Continental U.S.: The Appalachians, Adirondacks, Ozarks, Rockies, San Gabriels, Sierras, Trinity Alps, and Cascades.
  • I used to train golden retrievers in obedience and tracking.
  • I once sang with my church choir at Chartres Cathedral in France.


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