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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: In Memoriam: Ruth McCorkle." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Building the Workforce We Need to Care for People with Serious Illness: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25789.
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Appendix A

In Memoriam: Ruth McCorkle

The Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious Illness dedicates this workshop to the legacy of Ruth McCorkle.

Ruth was internationally renowned as a pioneer in the fields of oncology nursing, patient-centered care, palliative care, and symptom management. Ruth was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1990 and was a valued member of the serious illness care community. On August 17, 2019, Ruth passed away at her home in Connecticut, surrounded by family. She will be greatly missed.

Margaret Ruth McCorkle was born on March 4, 1941, in Johnson City, Tennessee, to John Joseph and Virginia Upchurch McCorkle. From 1964–1966, Ruth served as a second lieutenant and captain in the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps in Vietnam. Ruth graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, received a master’s degree in medical-surgical nursing from the University of Iowa, and studied at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London. She later co-founded the Hospice of Seattle and the Northwest Regional Oncology Society. In 1975, she earned her doctorate in mass communications at the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism.

Ruth’s professional and academic career included positions as a professor of nursing at the University of Washington and the University of Pennsylvania. At Yale University, Ruth was the first Florence Schorske Wald Professor Emerita of Nursing and a professor emerita of medicine

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: In Memoriam: Ruth McCorkle." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Building the Workforce We Need to Care for People with Serious Illness: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25789.
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and public health. She served as the director of the Center for Excellence in Chronic Illness Care and of Psychosocial Oncology at the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center. Ruth’s contributions to oncology research are unparalleled. She developed the Symptom Distress Scale and the Enforced Social Dependency Scale, served as the principal investigator on seven clinical trials, and published extensively in international and American nursing and medical journals. She mentored more than 70 doctoral and 30 postdoctoral students.

The recipient of numerous accolades, Ruth was the first nonmedical researcher to receive a National Cancer Institute Research Training Grant. Other awards include the Council of Nurse Researchers Nurse Scientist of the Year (1993), Distinguished Merit Award from the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care, Distinguished Research Award from the Oncology Nursing Society, Yale Cancer Center Lifetime Achievement Award (2017), and American Academy of Nursing’s “Living Legend” award (2018). She was also named the Nurse Scientist of the Year by the Council of Nurse Researchers of the American Nurses Association and a 2014 inductee of the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.

Beyond her successful professional career, Ruth exemplified passion, wisdom, gratitude, and generosity—improving the quality of life of everyone who knew her. Ruth is survived by her sister, six children, three nieces, and a granddaughter.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: In Memoriam: Ruth McCorkle." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Building the Workforce We Need to Care for People with Serious Illness: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25789.
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Page 67
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: In Memoriam: Ruth McCorkle." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Building the Workforce We Need to Care for People with Serious Illness: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25789.
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Page 68
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The United States faces a significantly aging population as well as a growing share of the population that is living longer with multiple chronic conditions. To provide high-quality care to people of all ages living with serious illness, it is critical that the nation develop an adequately trained and prepared workforce consisting of a range of professionals, including physicians, nurses, social workers, direct care workers, and chaplains. To explore some of the key workforce-related challenges to meeting the needs of people with serious illness, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a workshop on November 7, 2019. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

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