April Hazard Vallerand ’79 has made a career of caring about pain management. “You can see two people with similar ailments, and one would be able to do a lot but the other not as much,” she says. “It’s about uncovering what that’s about.”
Pain management still is a great deal of her work’s focus, all while she serves as the director of the PhD program for nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit.
“The patients that I currently work with are mainly African American,” she says. “Many patients are low income and underinsured, and I get the chance to help them with managing their pain,” she says.
Hazard Vallerand found that her educational journey was vastly elevated at then-Mount Saint Mary’s College. “It was considered the best nursing program in the area, and I look back on it as an amazing experience,” says Hazard Vallerand, who graduated with a BSN before receiving her MSN from CSU Los Angeles in 1985 and her PhD in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995.
Being a Mount Saint Mary’s student while Sister Callista Roy was the director of the nursing program was an important influence on her. “We were raised on the Roy Adaptation Model,” says Hazard Vallerand, who was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 2005. “It taught us to look at patients very holistically — not to just look at patients but their interactions with others, their role in life and things that were important to them. That helped me to develop a lot of what I do today. Having a chance to be the director of Wayne State’s PhD program, I get to help students who have an idea of research but maybe not knowing where they want to go with it and seeing them become a nurse scientist.”
Hazard Vallerand is also well known for aiding nursing students as well as nurse practitioners through being an author of “Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses,” the 18th edition of which is now being worked on. She also has received multiple grants for research related to pain management, including two from the National Cancer Institute.
Hazard Vallerand is optimistic about the future of pain management but highlights that a vital key is finding a way to deal with the opioid crisis while making sure those who truly benefit from medications receive them.
She is ecstatic when she can help someone manage better despite their pain. “People just want to be able to live their lives.”