by Julie Cleveland
For over a decade, Meredith Pfanschmidt has been an integral part of research done at the University of Washington. Meredith has been working at the UW since 1987 for the Alzheimer's Disease Patient Registry (ADPR), and Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) studies. As a research study nurse, she is responsible for helping coordinate the ADPR and ACT studies. She sets up appointments with research subjects, supervises the studies' psychometrists, data manager and student helpers, and works out the day-to-day problems that may come along while doing research studies. The aspect that Meredith enjoys most about her job is interacting with people - both the studies' participants and her co-workers.
Meredith received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently getting a certificate in gerontology at the UW. Meredith is enjoying the one-year program, and says it's a lot of fun. She wants to further her knowledge of issues that affect older adults, the primary population that she works with. Also, as she and her friends are getting older, she gets asked a lot of questions about aging, and says she wants to be able to have some good answers.
Meredith took some time off from her work at the UW to join the Peace Corps. In September 1998, she went to Nepal to help teach nursing students how to become nurses. She had three months of training in Nepal, and then taught for about one and a half months before she became ill, and returned home to the U.S. One interesting fact Meredith mentions is that the life expectancy in Nepal is under 50 years. This is due to poor sanitation and malnutrition. Thus, for the most part, people in Nepal don't live long enough to get Alzheimer's disease. Meredith states "I don't believe that anybody leaves the Peace Corps without being changed by that experience, even if it's only for six months." She continues, "It alters your perspective on things. It's worthwhile doing. I'm glad I did it."