faculty profile

Cristy DeGregory   PhD, RN

Assistant Professor


Dr. DeGregory joined Vanderbilt School of Nursing in 2017. She has more than sixteen years of experience in education and simulation, including teaching online and blended courses.

Her research and teaching involves the field of positive psychology and the study of resilience in supporting all caregivers.  Her primary interest lies in helping caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, especially caregivers who are women.

She works to enhance the role of nurses in the provision of spiritual care to patients.  She is passionate about teaching nurses how to work alongside chaplains and those from other disciplines.

She is currently researching how to better support the spiritual needs and resiliency of all caregivers, both paid and unpaid.

Dr. DeGregory works simultaneously at the local, state, federal and global levels supporting caregivers, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and the work of women through her advocacy of various organizations.  She has serves on several committees and task force groups that work to strengthen gerontological nursing practice and the long-term care system in both South Carolina and Tennessee. 

She has presented at conferences and workshops about spiritual care, supporting caregivers, improving the care and overall support of older adult patients and online teaching/learning formats which help educators teach abstract concepts in an online environment.  She is very interested in the use of simulation in nursing education and utilizing positive psychology in teaching and practice.

She loves to work with nurse practitioner students in their Pre-Specialty year.  She works as an advisor to both Pre-Specialty students and Vanderbilt University Undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a career in nursing.

She loves to teach students to be autonomous learners and strives to help every student who crosses her path to pass the NCLEX and follow their dreams!

Dr. DeGregory seeks to demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion in her teaching, scholarship and service.


  • PhD, University of South Carolina
  • Graduate Certificate-Gerontology, University of South Carolina
  • MSN-Nursing Education, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • BSN, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Current Research/Scholarly Interests

  • The Role of Spiritual Care in Nursing & Supporting Paid/Unpaid Caregivers, especially women
  • Resiliency
  • Using Authentic Multimedia Activities to Teach Affective Skills in Large Online Classes

Representative Publications


Polyakova-Norwood, V., Heiney, S., & DeGregory, C. (2018). "Using a continuing multimedia case study to develop critical thinking and empathy." Journal of Nursing Education (in press)

American Nurses Association. (2018). "Gerontological Nursing Scope and Standards". (contributor).

Elk, R., Hall, E., DeGregory, C., Graham, D., & Hughes, B. (2017). The role of nurses in providing spiritual care to patients: an overview. The Journal of Nursing, 9. https://www.asrn.org/journal-nursing/1781-the-role-of-nurses-in-providing-spiritual-care-to-patients...

Health Care Chaplaincy Network and the Spiritual Care Association. (2017). "Spiritual Care and Nursing: A Nurse's Contribution and Practice [white paper]". (contributor). https://www.healthcarechaplaincy.org/docs/about/nurses_spiritual_care_white_paper_3_3_2017.pdf

Zager, L.R., Herman, J., & Manning, L.S. (2017). The Eight-step approach for student clinical success (2nd ed.). Duluth, GA: I CAN Publishing. (contributor).

DeGregory, C. and Polyakova-Norwood, V. (2016). Creating authentic multimedia learning experiences for online classes. Distance Teaching & Learning Conference (conference paper), Madison, WI. 

Hand, M.W., Mitchell, S., & DeGregory, C. (2016). Advance directives in the provision of care for incarcerated adults: a scoping review protocol. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports. http://journals.lww.com/jbisrir/Abstract/2016/06000/Advance_directives_in_the_provision_of_care_for....

The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health report from the Long-Term Care Taskforce. (2015). "Creating Direction: A Guide for Improving Long-Term Care in South Carolina" (contributor). http://imph.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IMPH_-LTC_Cover.jpg

Representative Presentations

DeGregory, C.  (2021, May 18 - 20).  "Creating authentic multimedia activities to teach affective skills in large online classes" [Conference presentation abstract].  Educause Learning Initiative:  ELI Annual Meeting. Online.   (submitted) 

DeGregory, C. (2018). "The many emotions of caregiving". Elders, Boomers & More, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.

DeGregory, C. (2017). "Taking care of the caregiver: Discovering and growing your strengths". Alzheimer's Association, South Carolina Chapter, 2017 Family Education Conference, Newberry, SC. (invited)

DeGregory, C. (2017). "Spiritual care: What it means, why it matters & your role on the interdisciplinary team". HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Education Symposium, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY. (invited)

DeGregory, C. & Polyakova-Norwood, V. (2017). "Creating authentic multimedia activities to teach caring and critical thinking in large online classes." 2017 Online Learning Consortium Innovate Conference, New Orleans, LA. 

DeGregory, C. & Elk, R. (2017). "Practices in spiritual care: The use of simulation to instruct nurses and nursing students". 2017 Caring for the Human Spirit Conference, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Chicago, IL. (invited)

DeGregory, C. (2016, November). "Taking care of the caregiver: Discovering and growing your strengths". Alzheimer's Association, South Carolina Chapter, 2016 Caregiver Conference, Columbia, SC. (invited)

DeGregory, C. & Polyakova-Norwood, V. (2016, September). "Creating authentic multimedia learning experiences for online classes". Oktoberfest 2016: A Symposium for Teaching. The Center for Teaching Excellence, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. 

DeGregory, C. & Polyakova-Norwood, V. (2016, August). "Creating authentic multimedia learning experiences for online classes". Distance Teaching & Learning Conference, Madison, WI. 

DeGregory, C. (2016, April 20). "Appreciative inquiry infused teaching: Empowering students using a strengths-based approach". 23rd Annual Nurse Aid Trainers Workshop, SC Dept. of Health and Human Services, Brookland Baptist Convention Center, Columbia, SC. (invited)


  • American Nurse Journal, American Nurse's Association
  • Aging and Human Development Textbook, Taylor & Francis Publishing
  • Gerontological Nursing:  Competencies for Care, Jones & Bartlett Learning
  • Journal of Religion and Health, Springer Publishing

Professional Organizations

  • Member, Vanderbilt Center for Gerontological Nursing Excellence
  • Member of the Spiritual Care Association, Health Care Chaplaincy Network
  • American Holistic Nurses Association
  • National League for Nursing
  • Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honors Society – Iota Chapter
  • American Nurses Association
  • Tennessee Nurses Association


  • South Carolina Palmetto Gold Award for Nursing Excellence 2017
  • Two Thumbs Up Award, Office for Disability Services, University of South Carolina 2015
  • Sigma Theta Tau:  Blue Cross & Blue Shield Nurse Faculty Fellowship 2008 - 2011
  • Clinical Scholar University of Pittsburgh 2002
  • New Graduate Nurse Fellowship University of Pittsburgh 2002