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Visiting Professor: Kay Avant Professor Emeritus


Professor Dr. Kay Avant is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Nursing. Her areas of specialization include concept and theory development, standardized nursing language, maternal – infant interaction, as well as research and teaching in an international environment.

She is a journal reviewer for the Acta Paulista de Enfermagen and the Pacific Rim International Journal of Nursing Research.

Where are you from and where do you call home?

Originally from Dallas, Texas, and my husband and I call Wako, Central Texas home. A location which is still close enough for regular visits to the San Antonio School of Nursing.

Please describe your role at the Faculty of Nursing.

I have been  teaching the Theory and Development class to both local and international doctoral students at FON CMU officially since 2003.

I specialize in concept and theory development, standardized nursing language and maternal infant interaction.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your time with FON CMU thus far?


I adore the students I work with here. They are smart and hard working and the faculty itself is warm, inclusive and staffed by wonderful people.

What draws you to international work?

Although I was initially uninterested in working internationally, my first taste came when my husband accepted a position with USAID in Uruguay for 6 months. Since then, the desire to travel and teach students from around the world grew. When my twin children graduated, I became a Fulbright scholar in 2003 and came to Chiang Mai to teach.

Since my initial visit to Chiang Mai, Dean Wipada has invited me to return to FON CMU often over the years. I have really enjoyed teaching doctoral students in theory-related subjects.

What are some of the challenges of international work?

In the late 90s when I began working internationally, getting access to resources was a real challenge. I used to pack extra suitcases filled with texts books and educational resources (including boxes of projector slides).

I make sure to keep is ‘Strategies for Theory Development, 6th Edition by Lorraine Walker” with me at all times when teaching abroad.

Have you found any insights at FON CMU which have helped you in  your work?


I have found that pressing issues and current events can be uniquely different in various areas of the world. These insights enter into regional public health issues. An example I can note is, in the US, the opioids epidemic is a major public health issue, and in Thailand, childhood obesity and related diseases is a top priority, as children’s access to fast and junk foods has accelerated rapidly in recent years.

I have also found that the student/teacher interaction has changed over the years. Today, students are not afraid to ask teachers questions or to voice their opinion and insights in classes.

How do you see FON CMU continuing to grow in the coming years?

Each generation of PhD students as well as faculty development in helps to build the next generation of PhD students. This grows the knowledge, research practices and sharing of information among a growing nursing science network. The addition of new tools and technology, both in computing power analysis and sophisticated use of data, to the use of specialized research methodologies and frameworks has seen the quality and productivity of the nursing academia grow and develop strongly.

More nursing students from the faculty are desiring to pursue PhDs than ever before. They are smart, motivated and dedicated to their research. Academia is a very hard direction to choose, with its heavy and rigorous workload, but the students here at FON CMU handle it with grace.

In the next 5 years, the current number of PhDs will grow larger than the required clinical teaching needs, and then comes the tipping point where FON CMU will experience a growth in nursing research which will lead to an acceleration in academic growth and development.

What can Thailand learn from other countries and their research?

Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Nursing historically holds a strong regional reputation, with many students studying masters or PhDs at the faculty from Vietnam, China and other neighboring countries.

FON CMU also acts as a key network member for continuing work towards standardizing curriculum, graduation requirements and licensing in ASEAN countries.


As other regional centers continue to develop, examples of building reciprocal collaborative partnerships can be seen – with an example including the reciprocal relationship between FON CMU and the University of Medicine & Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for PhD programs.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?  What are you most excited or passionate about? 

I love nursing, teaching and working with students. I especially enjoy watching as a student is struggling with an idea or concept, and suddenly their eyes light up as they begin to understand. For example, I have seen doctoral students struggling with concepts for several weeks, when suddenly, they have an epiphany! Suddenly they are able to not only understand the concept, but to analyze, interpret and synthesize it completely. They can now say “I can do this!” with absolute confidence.

What have been your most rewarding experience in your research career thus far?

The most rewarding experiences in my career has included being able to closely observe the dramatic changes in this specialty, the growth of knowledge and learning in this area and the generational growth of nurses holding PhDs who then work to build the next generations of nursing doctorate holders and building upon and refining the body of knowledge – while broadening it into a holistic, multi-disciplinary science.

This includes changes in better, more sophisticated regression analysis tools and methodologies. More flexibility on what you can study and specialize in, better qualitative translation tools and the vast leaps of the use and accessibility of technology. I also remember having to hand type doctoral thesis using a typewriter.

What gives you a sense of hope? 

Having nurses move more into advocating holistic health, becoming recognized leaders in health and affecting decision-making, not just from within hospitals and health centers but also in the level of influencing policy-making and politics.

Whats next for you in your work?  What are you looking forward to?

I am genuinely excited to have my legacy seen as working with, and launching a whole generation of nurse scientists. These individuals and groups have gone on to support the next generation of nurse scientists on a greater scale.

The future is bright if we continue to invest in people and their health, both locally and globally.




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