Creative intervention studies are being done with patients with cardiovascular disease, cancer, renal failure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These studies are focused on testing nursing interventions that decrease symptoms, improve functional status and improve the quality of life of patients with these chronic conditions.

In addition, faculty members are engaged in research activities that focus on the management of specific symptoms or clinical problems, including pain, fatigue, dyspnea and wound healing. Several faculty members in the department utilize animal models to investigate important questions that affect the care of patients.

Opportunities abound for students to work with faculty members to conduct significant research studies that will improve the scientific basis of nursing practice and improve the care of patients with acute and chronic conditions in whatever setting patients receive their care.



Cardiovascular, Acute Care, Critical Care, Gerontology and Oncology are areas of specialization and instruction/teaching.

Specialty Areas

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AG ACNP) help assess and manage acutely ill patients within the inpatient/hospital setting and across hospital-to-clinic settings, including the emergency department, intensive care unit, specialty labs, acute and sub-acute care wards, specialty clinics, or any combination of the above. The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Oncology (AG ACNP-Oncology) prepares the graduate for optional focus on advanced practice level for adults and older adults with cancer.

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialists (AG CNS) care for the complex health-care needs of adults and seniors in clinical practice settings. Limited MEPN and Post-Masters options may be available.

Because inpatient care focuses increasingly on treating the sickest of the sick, the need for advanced practice nurses to provide and coordinate care in emergency departments, trauma, critical care, and intensive care units has never been greater.
For adults with cancer, advanced practice clinical nurse specialists play critical roles in prevention and detection, as well as in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of new ways of caring for oncology patients.


Doctoral education in this department focuses on the study of prevention, measurement, and treatment of physiological and biobehavioral responses to health, illness/disease and aging. Psycho-physiological interrelationships and interventions also are studied. The focus may be on individuals, families or groups. Research spans all phases of the health/illness trajectory including people who are healthy, critically ill, living with a chronic illness, and those at the end of life.

Examples of research programs are the following: testing of nursing interventions with patients with heart disease and their families during acute and chronic phases of illness; cardiac electrophysiology involving patients with cardiac arrhythmias or myocardial ischemia; innovative strategies to improve the efficacy of continuous ECG monitoring in hospital and pre-hospital settings; help-seeking delay in acute myocardial infarction and heart failure; patient education in heart failure; factors related to re-hospitalization in heart failure; the study of nutritional interventions in the presence of cardiovascular risk factors, i.e., hypercholesterolemia, hypertension in children and adults; study of cardiovascular risk factors with physiological and molecular biology/genetic measurements; nursing interventions to prevent or manage the side effects of cancer treatment and facilitate self-care practices of patients with cancer and their families.

Further examples of research programs are the following: clinical and basic science investigations in pain management; end of life and palliative care; stigma in lung cancer; smoking cessation; management of symptoms in pediatric oncology patients; physical functioning in schizophrenic adults; quality of care and quality of life issues in institutions for elderly people (cross-cultural); caregiving, sense of control, hearing impairment and type 2 diabetes mellitus in older adults; primary, secondary and tertiary prevention through nursing interventions to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors; testing interventions to improve sleep in older adults and people with chronic neurological diseases; quality measurement and benchmarking; exploring links between nurse staffing effectiveness and patient safety and outcomes; translating research into practice; innovation diffusion; and clinical process/performance improvement.

The Department houses the UCSF Center for Research & Innovation in Patient Care, the UCSF/John A. Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, and the Palliative Care Education programs.

These Centers, as school-wide assets, expand departmental research opportunities in translational research, outcomes-related measurement and multi-site methods, evidence-based practice capacity development and interdisciplinary research.



Clinical faculty in the Department of Physiological Nursing (DPN) maintain independent clinical practices in their specialty areas and several faculty members are able to precept students in addition to their teaching responsibilities. Lynda Mackin works with second year GNP and GCNS students in an outpatient clinic setting and also home visits. ACNP students can choose to do a specialty rotation with Mark Hawk on the SFGH Trauma Service, or with Rosalie Bravo in the UCSF Emergency Department. Many graduates from our specialty programs have found employment in acute and chronic care clinical settings throughout the greater Bay Area. After gaining valuable experience they agree to precept students as their way of giving back to the school and community. We are proud that more than 50% of specialty preceptors are past graduates.

Pam Bellefeuille, RN, MS, ACNS-BC, CEN
Assistant Clinical Professor

For the past 36 years, Pam Bellefeuille's clinical expertise has focused on Emergency Nursing, Intensive Care Nursing, and Medical-Surgical Nursing; moving from staff nurse to manager to director to clinical nurse specialist. Teaching nursing is her other passion! She started her academic teaching career in 1983 and is currently teaching Master's Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) courses—both theory and providing clinical instruction in the pre-licensure portion of the program.

Rosalie Bravo, RN, MS, ACNP
Assistant Clinical Professor

Rosalie Bravo maintains an active clinical practice as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) in the emergency department at UCSF Medical Center. She joined the ACNP faculty in 2005 and brings more than 20 years of clinical experience to the program. Her clinical background includes adult critical care and emergency department nursing as well as pediatric and neonatal critical care transport nursing. Rosalie Bravo received the 2011 Excellence in Clinical Mentoring Award by UCSF School of Nursing Faculty.

Roxanne Garbez, RN, PhD, ACNP-BC, CNS
Associate Clinical Professor

The research focus for Roxanne Garbez's dissertation was emergency department triage with an emphasis on examining clinical decision making related to levels 2 and 3 within the 5-level Emergency Severity Index triage system. For the last thirteen years she has maintained an active clinical practice as a nurse practitioner in a busy emergency department in the Central Valley assessing, diagnosing and managing acutely ill and injured patients ranging from age 3 months to 100 years.

Mark Hawk, RN, MSN, ACNP-BC
Associate Clinical Professor

For the past 11 years, Mark Hawk has practiced as a Trauma/General Surgery Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) at Zuckerberg San Francisco General, the only level-1 trauma center in San Francisco. He has been a nurse for 30 years with clinical experience in trauma, various critical care settings and emergency. He has an interest in injury, critical illness, and acute pain management as it applies to older adults. He received the 2010 Excellence in Clinical Mentoring Award by UCSF School of Nursing Faculty.

Theresa Koetters, RN, MS
Associate Clinical Professor

Theresa Koetters has maintained a clinical practice with oncology outpatients receiving chemotherapy. Prior to her position with UCSF, she was an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist for 20 years. She has worked across many practice settings, including community hospitals, outpatient radiation therapy, home care, hospice, MD private offices and outpatient infusion centers. Her areas of interest include safe administration of chemotherapy, patient and family education regarding chemotherapy and nutrition during treatment, the clinical nurse specialist role in health care and the community, and palliative and end-of-life care.


Lynda Mackin, RN, PhD, ANP-BC, CNS
Associate Clinical Professor

For the past 15 years, Lynda Mackin's clinical practice has been in the area of older adult primary care, both in the office and home. She maintains an active community based clinical practice where she also precepts and mentors students. She is board certified as both an Adult and Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.

Robert O'Malley, MSN, RN, NP
Assistant Clinical Professor

Robert O'Malley has been a nurse practitioner on the Trauma Service at UC Davis for more than 15 years, and also manages women's health patients in an office setting one day a week.

Physiological Nursing

  • Bay Area Hospitals

  • SFGH Trauma Service

  • UCSF Emergency Department