At A Glance
Substance use disorder is a national crisis affecting many families, especially when the addict is a mother. The problem is compounded by a complex domestic situation or marginalized family. Mary Ellen Wright explores how systems and processes address these problems, the best strategies for response and how the act of caring can be applied to aid in recovery.
Teaching and nursing simultaneously throughout her career, Wright is known for applying the “Caring Theory” from the health care setting to the classroom. She has helped create online modules on different substances for 35 medical schools and nurse practitioner programs across the country.
Teaching and nursing simultaneously throughout her career, Wright’s work has demonstrated the “Caring Theory” from the health care setting to the classroom, leading her to current positions on the board of directors for the International Association for Human Caring and the Anne Boykin Institute for the Advancement of Caring in Nursing. Aside from winning several awards and being named as one of the Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina, she’s helped create online modules on different substances for 35 different medical schools and nurse practitioner programs across the country.
Her research examines substance use disorder of mothers in the perinatal period and the effects on infants and children, domestic violence, child maltreatment concerns and complex family situations. She explores how systems and processes address these problems, the best strategies for response and how the act of caring can be applied.
Wright’s clinical experience has included working with families around the perinatal period, public health clinics and abuse shelters, and in populations with low socioeconomic backgrounds or with health care concerns that have a tendency to be stigmatized. This experience has given her a unique perspective for families who need special caring and understanding, focusing her efforts on social support strategies and awareness for marginalized families.
In 2017, Wright joined Clemson as an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, bringing extensive experience as both a professor and a certified nurse practitioner in women’s health and in pediatric care.
In collaboration, she has since authored “I Do Love My Baby: Stories of Mothers with Addiction and Recovery.” She has written book chapters and published articles in the “Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics,” the “Journal of Human Caring” and the “American Journal of Infection Control.” Additionally, she served as an associate producer for the documentary “Original Body of Pain,” an observational ethnography of mothers with addiction.
Before joining Clemson, Wright was the nurse scientist for Mission Health System in North Carolina and a faculty administrator, graduate faculty and interim director of undergraduate nursing at Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a nurse practitioner with the Broward County Public Health Department and as a nurse at Community Hospital in Fort Lauderdale. Wright has also served several clinics, abuse shelters and a school-based health center for adolescent pregnancy. While studying socialized medicine in England, she had the opportunity to study with the Royal College of Midwives.