After many years of counseling clients in her private psychotherapy and psychopharmacology practice, Diane Grimaldi decided to enrich her knowledge by enrolling in UMass Lowell’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. 

She specializes in treating people with depression, anxiety, obesity and weight maintenance issues and wanted to learn about evidence-based research most pertinent to the treatment of those whom she serves.

“The DNP program provided an opportunity for me to be immersed in research data, literature and outcomes, which has improved my clinical efficacy,” says Grimaldi, a board-certified mental health clinical nurse specialist who serves on the editorial board of the “Journal of Psychosocial and Mental Health Services” and as chair of the Massachusetts Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses (MAAPPN).

Grimaldi treats clients who are seeking surgical or nonsurgical treatment options for obesity. Providing comprehensive psychological evaluations and psychotropic medication and psychotherapy, she helps patients understand and approach weight problems from many different perspectives. 

Her scholarly project in the DNP program expanded her knowledge and contributed to research about factors that affect the outcomes of people who undergo bariatric surgery. 

Her research, published in the “Bariatric Surgical Practice and Patient Care” journal, showed that comorbid psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are common in people who have gastric bypass surgery. The need for support and treatment of these and other psychiatric conditions after surgery is essential for the patient’s long-term well-being. 

“I’m happy that I received the DNP degree, because I’m able to apply what I learned directly to my clinical work with patients as well as understanding the gaps in existing research,” says Grimaldi.