Research nurse recognized as a 'champion'

By Robin Russell

Tamara Dickinson began helping people with bowel and bladder control issues early in her career as a spinal cord rehabilitation nurse. She found it so rewarding that she’s spent the last 18 years in urology focusing on incontinence issues.

“This is such a quality-of-life issue,” she said. “So many people think it’s just something they have to live with, and many think the only treatment is surgery. They’re so appreciative; it’s very gratifying.”

Tamara Dickinson
Tamara Dickinson

Ms. Dickinson, a senior research nurse in Urology since 2002, has been recognized for her contributions in research, education and clinical practice as the recipient of the Rodney Appell Continence Care Champion Award from the National Association for Continence (NAFC), the world’s largest educational and advocacy group on pelvic floor disorders. 

At UT Southwestern, Ms. Dickinson works with urologists on clinical trials funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases as well as industry-sponsored clinical trials. Her clinical-care work involves bladder function testing (urodynamics), pelvic floor therapy for incontinence, other pelvic floor disorders and pessary fittings for pelvic organ prolapse.

Beyond her clinical work, she also helps train nurses across the country as director of the urodynamics course for the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA) and is a national presenter on pelvic floor therapy, biofeedback, behavioral management, pessary use and neurogenic voiding dysfunction.  

“Tamara’s knowledge, empathy and expertise go well above and beyond what is expected,” said Dr. Gary Lemack, Professor of Urology and Neurology. “Her commitment to the urodynamic training of nurses demonstrates her passion for education. We are immensely proud of her.”

It’s a subspecialty that needs a compassionate touch. Though some 200 million people worldwide are affected by forms of incontinence, patients often are embarrassed to talk about it. 

“It’s still kind of a closeted topic,” Ms. Dickinson said. “There are still people out there who think they’re the only ones who have a bladder problem. It is a chronic debilitating problem that affects so many aspects of your life.”   

Board-certified in urology nursing and continence nursing and certified in biofeedback for pelvic muscle dysfunction, Ms. Dickinson is a past president of SUNA and has received that organization’s President’s Trophy for Outstanding Contributions and the 2006 Past President’s Lectureship Award.

Dr. Lemack holds the Rose Mary Haggar Professorship in Urology.