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Mary Isaacson

mary isaacson


Associate Professor (Rapid City)

Office Building


Mailing Address

College of Nursing-Rapid City
1220 Mt Rushmore Road
Rapid City, SD 57701


CHPN- 2015
Ph.D. in Nursing- Indiana University- 2009
MA in Nursing (Community Health Emphasis)- Augustana College- 2002;
BS in Nursing- South Dakota State University- 1998;
Diploma in Nursing- St. Luke's College, Sioux City, IA- 1982

Academic Interests/Expertise

Palliative Care and End-of-life care, Palliative and End-of-life communication, Transcultural nursing and healthcare, health disparities, American Indian healthcare, American Indian adolescent risk behaviors, childhood obesity, underserved populations, horse and human health interactions, rural nursing

Academic Responsibilities

Undergraduate and graduate nursing courses

Committee Activities

Graduate Nursing Curriculum Committee
Faculty Senate (2016- current)
Past Chair, Nursing Research Committee

Awards and Honors

Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association, Research Advisory Committee, co-chair (2020-)
Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association Research Scholar 2018
SDSU College of Nursing 2015 Outstanding Researcher


Principal Investigators: Armstrong, K., Petereit, D. Co-Investigator: Isaacson, M.J. R-01, NIH (NCI): R-01, Clinical Trial; RFA-CA-18-026: Improving the Reach and Quality of Cancer Care in Rural Populations. Title: Advancing Palliative Care in Northern Plains American Indians
Isaacson, Mary, Principal Investigator, Bott-Knutson, Rebecca, Fishback, Mary Beth, Varnum, Angela, & Brandenburger, Shelly, Co-Investigators. Psychometric Evaluation of Hope and Resilience Measures in Native American Youth Wellness: A Preliminary Study. Funding Source: South Dakota State University, Scholarly Excellence Fund. (2015-2017).
Isaacson, Mary, Evaluation Director. Increasing the Implementation of Evidence-Based Cancer Survivorship interventions to Increase Quality and Duration of Life among Cancer Patients. Funding Source: American Cancer Society. (2015-2016).
Isaacson, Mary & Minton, Mary, Principal Investigators. Nurse Attitudes Toward Palliative Care Certification: A Rural/Urban Assessment. Funding Source: Hospice & Palliative Nurses Foundation. (2015-2016).
Isaacson, Mary, Principal Investigator. Wakanki Ewastpikte--"Care for Our Elders." Funding Source: South Dakota Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan. (2015).
Isaacson, Mary, Principal Investigator. Health Promotion and Palliative Care on South Dakota Reservations. Funding Source: South Dakota State University, College of Nursing, Dawley Seed Grant. (2013-2014).
Isaacson, Mary, Co-Investigator, Mary Minton, Co-Investigator. Palliative and End of Life Education in Rural South Dakota: A Pilot Workshop for Interprofessionals, Principal Investigator, LuAnn Eidsness, LifeCircle South Dakota, SD. Funding Source: South Dakota Comprehensive Control Plan. (2014).
Isaacson, Mary, Co-Investigator; Marylou Mylant, Co-Investigator. American Indian Pilot Study on Caregiving, Attachment, and Health of Young Children. Funding Source: Collaborative Research Center on American Indian Health. (2014-2015).

Professional Memberships

American Nurses Association, South Dakota Nurses Association, National League of Nursing; Transcultural Nursing Society, Sigma Theta Tau- Phi Chapter; Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association, Palliative Care Research Cooperative, Rural Nurses Organization

Work Experience

Assistant Professor, Augustana College, 2002-2013;
Instructor, Mount Marty College, 2000-2001
Sanford USD Medical Center (Sioux Falls and Vermillion): 1992-2012

Area(s) of Research

Social determinants of health, rural and underserved populations.
Palliative care in the American Indian population, American Indian childhood obesity, palliative care in rural and frontier communities, palliative and end of life care communication, cultural humility, American Indian adolescent risk behaviors, hope and resilience.

Applications of Research

Minton, M.E., Isaacson, M.J., & DaRosa, P. (2020). Psychometric analysis of the Comfort with Communication in Palliative and End-of-Life (C-COPE) instrument. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 26(8), 334-343.
Varilek, B.M. & Isaacson, M.J. (2020). The dance of cystic fibrosis: Experiences of living with cystic fibrosis as an adult. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29(17-18), 3553-3564.
Mylant, M.L., Isaacson, M.J., Heil, J. (in press). The feasibility of the strengthening family and an adapted American Indian nutrition and physical activity program: A pilot study. South Dakota Medicine.
Isaacson, M.J., Minton, M.E., DaRosa, P., & Harming, S. (2019). Nurse comfort with palliative and end of life communication: A rural and urban comparison. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 21(1), 38-45. doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000483
Isaacson, M.J., Bott-Knutson, R.C., Fishback, M.B., Varnum, A., & Brandenburger, S. (2018). Native elder and youth perspectives on mental well-being, the value of the horse, and navigating two worlds. Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care, 18(2), 265-302. doi:
Isaacson, M.J., Hulme, P.A., Cowan, J., & Kerkvliet, J. (2018). Cancer survivorship care plans: Processes, effective strategies, and challenges in a Northern Plains rural state. Public Health Nursing, 35(4), 291-298. doi: 10.1111/phn.12393
Isaacson, M.J. (2018). Addressing palliative and end-of-life care needs with Native American elders. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 24(4), 160-168. doi:
Isaacson, M.J. & Lynch, A.R. (2018). Culturally relevant palliative and end-of-life care for U.S. Indigenous populations: An integrative review. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 29(2), 181-191. doi: 10.1177/1043659617720980
Isaacson, M.J. & Minton, M.E. (2018). End-of-life communication: Nurses co-creating the closing composition with patients and families. Advances in Nursing Science, 41(1), 2-17. doi: 10.1097/ANS.0000000000000186
Minton, M.E., Isaacson., M.J., Varilek, B.M., Stadick, J.L., & O’Connell-Persaud, S. (2018). A willingness to go there: Nurses and spiritual care. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(1), 173-181. doi: 10.111/jocn.13967
Isaacson, M.J. (2017). Wakanki ewastepikte: An advance directive education project with American Indian elders. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 19(6), 580-587. doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000392
Minton, M.E., Isaacson, M., & Banik, D. (2016). Prayer and the registered nurse (PRN): Nurses’ reports of ease and dis-ease with patient initiated prayer request. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(9), 2185-2195. doi: 10.1111/jan.12990
Isaacson, M., Karel, B., Varilek, B.M, Steenstra, W.J., Tanis-Heyenga, J.P., & Wagner, A.J. (2015). Insights from health care professionals regarding palliative care options on South Dakota reservations. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 26(5), 473-479. doi: 10.1177/1043659614527623
Isaacson, M. (2014). Clarifying concepts: cultural humility or competency. Journal of Professional
Nursing, 30(3), 251-258. doi: 10.1016/j.profnurs.2013.09.011
Isaacson, M. J. (2001). Who I Am. Nursing Science Quarterly, 14(2), 117-119.



Advance Directive Brochure- Lakota versionImproving End-of-Life Care: Eating the Elephant One Bite at a Time

Open Prairie

Open PRAIRIE - Public Research Access Institutional Repository and Information Exchange

Mary Isaacson