Mary-Vesta Marston-ScottMary-Vesta Marston-Scott, PhD, was first inspired to a caregiving career when she was just four years old and living with her grandmother. Embarking on her studies at a time when nursing was taught through apprenticeship type training in hospitals, she joined the University of Maine, which was the first university in Maine to have a baccalaureate program for nursing, and earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology. She began her career in earnest during this time as well, working as a research assistant at the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine. Subsequently, she obtained a teaching certificate and joined the Yale School of Nursing, where she worked as an instructor until she graduated with a master’s degree in nursing.

Earning a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University while working as a nurse consultant for the division of nursing of the U.S. Public Health Service, Dr. Marston-Scott went on to pursue a doctorate in nursing through a scholarship from the American Nurses Association and the Public Health Service. This culminated in her receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in psychology from Boston University in 1969. From there, she joined the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University as an associate professor, before returning to Boston University to teach as a professor in the graduate program for community health nursing.

During this time. Dr. Marston-Scott, along with a number of other nurses across the country, began the process of developing PhD programs in nursing, with Dr. Marston-Scott focusing on developing courses that used social psychological theories in nursing. One of the first of these programs was implemented at Boston University, however, the president of the university at that time did not like the emergence of nursing as a higher education field and abruptly shuttered the program. Having spent 10 years developing the program and not willing to give up, Dr. Marston-Scott moved to the University of Illinois Chicago, where she taught in their health psychology program as an associate professor until her retirement.

Having accomplished much over the course of her career, Dr. Marston-Scott is particularly proud of the work she did to bring nursing education to the doctoral level through the programs she was involved with at Boston University and the University of Illinois. She is also proud of how her work has been used to provide a scientific basis for nursing practice and public health. One particular instance of this was when a paper of hers was selected as a “citation classic,” for how often it had been cited in other works. It received so much publicity that Dr. Marston-Scott was named as the Most Quoted Nurse Author.

Dr. Marston-Scott attributes much of her success to the incredible mentors she had throughout her education, including Jane McQueen, an instructor at Yale who went on to become dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Maine, and Elizabeth Bixler, her dean at Yale. She was also encouraged early on by the parents of her best friend, who were a physician and an operating room nurse. For her excellence, Dr. Marston-Scott was presented with the Ruth B. Freeman Award from the American Public Health Association, the Yale School of Nursing Distinguished Alumna Award, an Outstanding Alumna Award from the University of Maine, named an Outstanding Yale Nurse and elected as a fellow of the American Nurses Association.

Looking toward the future, Dr. Marston-Scott intends to continue to emphasize the importance of scientific literature in nursing practice. She would also like to see more recognitions for excellence in nursing practice and research. As a part of that desire, she has plans to establish a scholarship in her name for nursing and doctoral programs through the University of Maine Foundation, for nurses pursuing doctoral studies at a nursing school in the state of Maine. Dr. Marston-Scott would advise young and aspiring professionals to decide what facet of nursing is most important to them and then to pursue it as hard as they can.

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