Posted on Apr 9, 2022

Trailblazer Spotlight: Constance Visovsky, professor

Trailblazer Spotlight: Constance Visovsky, professor

Constance Visovsky’s career in nursing started in 1976 when she graduated with her Associate’s Degree in Nursing. At the time, she had not yet discovered her passion for research and the impact it would soon have on her career.

Over the years while working as a nurse in the intensive care unit, Visovsky recalls being “influenced” by nursing instructors who brought students the hospital she worked at. She felt inspired and decided to pursue a master’s degree.

She graduated with her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Rochester and became an instructor. On the weekends, she still worked as an acute care nurse practitioner in oncology at University Hospitals of Cleveland. It was during this time, she met nursing research scientists and started to discover her own interests in research one patient at a time.

“The breast cancer patients in my care inspired my career in research,” Visovsky said. “I saw many women who may have had their cancer controlled or cured by chemotherapy, but who had to live with the long-term effects that impaired their activities of daily living and quality of life.”

She had her mind made up and by 1999, she was starting the PhD program at Case Western Reserve University. She graduated four years later with her PhD and a dissertation focused on the neurotoxic effects of chemotherapy, specifically chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a pain and numbness usually experiences in the feet and hands.

B-HAPI research team: Jillian Coury, Constance Visovsky, Lauren Schwab

B-HAPI research team: Jillian Coury, Constance Visovsky, Lauren Schwab

Since then, she has worked tirelessly to help patients and advance symptom management research.

At the USF Health College of Nursing, Visovsky is a professor and one of the senior research faculty. She leads a National Cancer Institute funded grant, B-HAPI, to improve CIPN.

“We are examining the effects of the exercise program on nerve conduction, neuropathy symptoms, muscle strength, gait/balance and quality of life.”

Visovsky says her biggest professional accomplishment is twofold: advancing symptom management research that assists patients with a non-pharmacologic approach to the treatment of CIPN using exercise and the mentorship of students in their nursing and research careers.

In addition to her faculty role, Visovsky also holds the Lewis and Leona Hughes Endowed Chair in Nursing Science, which is endowed to the college by Sarasota Memorial Hospital. In this role, she works with the hospital leadership to promote research and evidence-based practice.

Visovsky wants to remind students not to let doubt overshadow what they would like to accomplish. It’s a reminder she also gives herself.

“The saying on my phone lock screen is: What Would You Attempt to Do if You Know You Could Not Fail? This inspires me to keep trying to do my best.”

Story by Cassidy Delamarter