Mia Cajita, PhD, RN-BC

Nurse Researcher


Mia Cajita, PhD, RN-BC, comes from a family of nurses, but nursing was not her first choice in careers. However, as an immigrant to the United States from the Philippines, nursing was the most practical career available to her. It was only after becoming a nurse that she learned to fully appreciate the profession. When she received her invitation to join Sigma, she was already a bedside nurse pursuing her BSN. She accepted her invitation as a reward to herself for achieving a 4.0 GPA.

Today, Mia is an assistant professor in the department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science in the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her favorite part of her job is the opportunity for research. “I genuinely enjoy doing research and being able to do it professionally is such a blessing. I particularly enjoy the planning stage of research—coming up with a solution, designing an intervention, putting together a study protocol—and analyzing the data. I also like learning new things and keeping up to date with the latest breakthroughs and health innovations is a given when you’re in research.”

Her role in academia also plays a part in developing the next generation of nurses. Since she no longer works directly with patients, she appreciates the interactions with nursing students to stay connected with clinical practice.

Mia was selected to receive a Sigma Small Research Grant in 2020 for her study Health Literacy-Based Heart Failure Self-Care Intervention (H2Lit). Her interest in this topic started with her work as a bedside nurse. “I was in a cardiac unit where most of our patients came in for acute exacerbation of their chronic heart failure. I always felt that I was not doing enough for my patients, often hurriedly educating them on heart failure self-care when they were getting discharged. I wanted to find a nurse-friendly solution to this problem. I hope that by developing scalable interventions, I can finally empower individuals with heart failure to effectively perform self-care.”

After completing this study, Mia’s short-term goal is to expand the intervention to address the common comorbid conditions of heart failure. In the long-term, she wants to develop the intervention into a whole suite that is capable of addressing a wide range of chronic conditions.

“This study is the product of my clinical experience and research training. The research problem was born out my clinical experience and the study intervention capitalizes on my predoctoral and postdoctoral training. As a cardiovascular fellow at Johns Hopkins, I received specialized training in cardiovascular-related interventions. As a postdoc fellow on the Technology Research T32 program at University of Pittsburgh, I was exposed to the application of technology in various interventions. While this study is a product of my nursing experience, it is also the beginning of the next leg of my nursing journey.”

Research grants like the one Mia has received are funded by donations to the Sigma Foundation for Nursing. Donate today to make more of these grants possible.