School of Nursing

Distinguished Alumna/us Award

2019 Alumna of the year - Helen Turner, RN, DNP '09

Image of Helen Turner

Alum recognized for contributions to pediatric pain management.

Anyone who has seen a child hospitalized and in pain can readily understand the importance of the work that has dominated the career of Helen Turner, RN, DNP ’09 for over two decades.

Dr. Turner’s research and clinical practice has advanced knowledge in post-operative pain management; investigated safety issues in children with chronic pain requiring opioid therapy; and addressed the pain management needs of children experiencing autism, gastrointestinal dysfunction and cystic fibrosis (CF).

Initially focused on the care of children with CF, Dr. Turner had always been fascinated by the management of pain in children. “People do not understand that kids have chronic pain,” she said. “Pediatric pain differs from adult pain.” When the opportunity arose to establish her research and clinical practice solely around pain management, she jumped at it. 

“A lot of what I have to do is to be a detective,” she said. “By spending time with the patient and their family you can consider emotional trauma that often follows physical trauma; bullying; and other systemic issues caused by food or financial insecurity. Often I am working with parents who are scared and have experienced pain themselves. ” 

A researcher consistently funded since 2000, Dr. Turner was recognized as the School of Nursing Alumni Association’s Alum of the Year for 2019 at the Winter Completion ceremony held in December. The annual award celebrates a legacy of commitment to clinical practice, education and mentoring.

 “I feel it is such a gift that I get to do this,’ said Dr. Turner, who was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2011. “It’s not like I am some sort of magic worker. You just need the patience and acceptance to see it through.”