Sunny Chieh Cheng



From an early age, Sunny Chieh Cheng knew she wanted to be a nurse. As a nine-year-old, she needed an operation; however, due to her sister battling leukemia, her parents were unable to stay with her during her overnight hospital stay. It was during this time that she met a nurse who inspired her. “I wanted to repay the kindness that was shown to me and help others when they can’t help themselves.”

Sunny was first introduced to Sigma as a nursing student in Taiwan in 2016. “I was thrilled about how welcoming this organization is for nursing students. I chose to join Sigma because I love its mission of improving the health of the world’s people and its constant endeavor to nurture more nurse leaders”. Sunny serves as a school counselor for her chapter, Psi at-Large Chapter. “I look forward to passing on what I learn from Sigma to the next generation.”

Sunny’s early work in psychiatric settings in Taiwan fueled her passion for the field. To expand her knowledge, she pursued her PhD at the University of Washington (UW). It was here that she worked as a research assistant for nationally funded projects while also serving and teaching a diverse population. “I really enjoy collaborating with people to do what is right for a more just and equitable world.”

Today, Sunny is an Assistant Professor at UW Tacoma. She loves not only teaching her students but what she learns from them as well. Sunny is also continuing to make contributions to psychiatric nursing through ongoing research to improve care for patients suffering from mental illness. Earlier this year, Sunny received a research grant from Sigma for her study, “Psychosis Risk Syndrome Experience of Family Caregivers of Patients With Schizophrenia: A Mixed Methods Study.”

Addressing the importance of these grants, she shares “These small grants help nurse researchers to conduct original and innovative studies that reflect substantial advancement in nursing science and patient care. I am passionate about my program of research and I really appreciate this grant for supporting research in mental health and psychiatry nursing areas.”

Speaking about the importance of her current study, she shared: “Caregiving of individuals with mental illness, which is a chronic illness across life span, is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining.  First episode psychosis occurs predominantly among adolescents and young adults and constitutes a critical period which influences long term outcomes. This study will inform work underway to develop a model of care for families navigating a loved one’s early psychosis before the first hospitalization to restore the resilience and quality of lives of family caregivers.”

With her background in psychiatric nursing, Sunny understands the importance of taking care of oneself and being receptive of help received from others. “I think I got to where I am today because I keep my heart wide open to new experiences and I appreciate the people who have helped me along the way. Challenges and frustrations do happen, but I practice self-care to stay positive and motivated.”

The Sigma Foundation for Nursing has a long tradition of funding research grants like this one which is critical to advancing nursing science.  The funding provided for this research study is only possible thanks to our donors.