Bernita Steffl: A Geriatric Nurse with a Talent for Listening, Learning, and Leading


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Abstract

Bernita M. Steffl is a Professor Emerita, Arizona State University at Tempe. She has a master's degree in public health with a specialty in mental health from the University of Minnesota and a post-master's certificate in gerontology from the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California. While teaching community health nursing in 1970, she began to focus on the psychosocial aspects of aging. She began to distinguish specific gerontologic nursing content by offering elective courses on campus and in the community. She became known in the community as an advocate for the aged living in the community and in long-term care facilities by participating in legislative hearings, presenting at professional and community meetings and placing students in adult day care centers, senior centers, and senior residences for part of their community health nursing experience. She has published widely and given numerous speeches and workshops nationally and internationally. Her pioneering efforts laid the groundwork for nursing home standards in Arizona. Her seminal work in the use of touch and recognition of the importance to the aged of sensuality and sexuality contributed greatly to geriatric nurses' theoretic understanding of these vital issues. The following comments are excerpted from an interview with Ms. Steffl:

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