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Barbara Burns McGrath RN, PhD

Research Associate Professor Emerita
Consultant, Office of Nursing Research
Faculty Coordinator, BSN Honors Program
Adjunct Research Associate Professor: Department of Anthropology; Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies; UW School of Public Health

I began my studies in anthropology, became interested in health care and received my BSN from University of Washington.  While working at Harborview Medical Center I was drawn toward seriously ill patients and observed the critical role of their cultural beliefs on their behavior.  I returned to the UW to study with Jeanne Benoliel and Ruth McCorkle in a new graduate program, Oncology Transition Services. After working as an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist providing home care for terminally patients and their families, I moved to New Haven and taught for a few years at the Yale School of Nursing.  Upon returning to Seattle, I entered the anthropology doctoral program with a focus on medical anthropology.  Ethnographic fieldwork in the Kingdom of Tonga let to a program of research with U.S. Pacific Islanders.  Professional associations in the School of Public Health led to a concurrent interest around the social and cultural implication of genomics as an emerging science.



  • BSN, University of Washington, 1977
  • MN, University of Washington, 1981
  • MA, University of Washington, 1989
  • PhD, University of Washington, 1993

What classes do you teach?

  • Genomics, Society, and Culture
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • BSN Honors Seminar

What do you love about the UW School of Nursing?

I have been at the UW SoN off and on, in various roles, since the mid 1970’s.  I continue to find it a stimulating intellectual environment with faculty, staff, and students bringing their diverse backgrounds and experiences to address a wide range of topics that fall under the profession of nursing.


Psychosocial and Community Health

Research Areas

  • Health Equity
  • Lifespan Health
Picture of  Barbara Burns McGrath
Main: 206-685-0834

UW School of Nursing
Box 357262
1959 NE Pacific St.
Seattle, WA 98195

Office: T522A