Lisa Deal, RN, MPH, ScD

August 2011

Researching public policy for a foundation that funds children’s health care, which Lisa Deal did for many years at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos, is a far cry from bedside nursing for terminally ill patients.

Yet, when Deal decided to return to work outside the home after a decade-long hiatus as a stay-at-home mom, she headed for Mission Hospice & Home Care.

“I decided that what I really missed were patients,” said Deal, who last worked as a nurse in Seattle 18 years ago. She remembers that she never wanted to be anything other than a nurse, a doctor or maybe a physical therapist when she was growing up in Wenatchee, WA.

When it came time to choose, she opted for nursing because she didn’t want to spend the time it took in school to become a doctor. Ironically, she ended up with just as much time in school and eventually earned a doctorate in public health from Harvard. She was especially interested in how public policy impacts health care for both ends of the age spectrum: children and the elderly. When her husband, an economist, was offered a job in Silicon Valley, the family moved and she went to the Packard Foundation.

Last fall, she joined the volunteer class at Mission Hospice as a way of gauging whether hospice would be a good fit. She said she was especially drawn to the work after experiencing several deaths of family and friends over the last few years. She’d maintained her active nursing license but CEO Dwight Wilson urged her to volunteer as a nursing intern in the hospice program to get her skills up to speed. In March, she joined the staff as a nurse case manager.

“It’s a unique honor to be invited into someone’s home when they’re dying,” she said, noting that nurses used to working with recovering patients have to learn a different mindset for hospice.

“You have to know going in that the patient is going to die and so, the goals are different,” she said. “They’re around quality of life. If you don’t know that, you will burn out really quickly. Yes, it’s sad, but it’s uplifting to know that we’re really helping patients live as well as possible.”

THE NUTSHELL

EDUCATION
• Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma
• Master’s Degree in Nursing, Master’s Degree in Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle
• Doctorate in Public Health, Harvard University, Boston

CAREER
• Visiting Nurse, Cardiology Nurse, Boston, 1988-1990
• Public Health Nurse at HIV and Family Planning Clinics, Seattle, 1991-1993
• Program Manager, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Editor of The Future of Children Journal, Los Altos, 1997-2001
• Stay-at-home mom and volunteer, 2004-2010
• Mission Hospice & Home Care Nurse, 2011-Present

PERSONAL
• Married, three teenagers