Physiological Nursing

The Department of Physiological Nursing prepares students from culturally diverse backgrounds to assume leadership roles in nursing clinical practice, teaching, research, and community service by advancing knowledge and clinical excellence and disseminating it into practice and policy. Faculty members in this department are engaged in cutting-edge research that is improving the quality of care of persons with acute and chronic conditions.

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 Practitioner (AG ACNP)

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 Specialist (AG CNS)

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.

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist - Critical Care/Trauma (AGCNS-CCT)

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.

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist - Oncology (AGCNS-ONC)

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 bio-behavioral 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. The faculty meet regularly to discuss their research proposals and to further collaboration among the faculty.

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. 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 older adults with serious mental illness; quality of care and quality of life issues in institutions for elderly people (cross-cultural); caregiving, sense of control, hearing impairment; 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, the Palliative Care Education programs, and coming soon, the Center for Physiological Research (CPR).

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 faculties 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 precepts AG CNS students in an outpatient clinic setting and also home visits. AG ACNP students may request to precept in a specialty rotation with Brigid Donovan on the Trauma Service at Zuckerberg San Francisco General, Dawn Troeger in the ICU at Eden Medical Center, or Cynthia Singh in the Clinical Decision Unit at Stanford University Medical Center. Many graduates from our specialty programs have found employment in acute and critical care clinical settings throughout the greater Bay Area. After gaining valuable experience many agree to precept students as their way of giving back to the school and community. We are proud that more than 75% of specialty preceptors are past graduates.

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

Pam Bellefeuille has extensive clinical expertise in a variety of settings including Emergency, Intensive Care Nursing, and Medical-Surgical; 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
Associate Clinical Professor

Rosalie Bravo joined the AG ACNP faculty in 2005 and is the Coordinator of the Department of Physiology’s Post Master’s AG ACNP and AG CNS programs. She maintains an active clinical practice in San Francisco providing Internal Medicine services for uninsured adults with acute and chronic illnesses. She previously worked at the UCSF Emergency Department as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner for more than 13 years.

Brigid Donovan, RN, MS, ACNP
Assistant Clinical Professor

Brigid Donovan has been faculty with the AG ACNP program since 2014. She graduated from the AG ACNP program in 2006 and is a member of the first team of NPs hired to work on the Trauma Service at Zuckerberg San Francisco General. Since 2006 she has since maintained an active clinical NP practice at the level 1 trauma center which is a safety net hospital for the City and County of San Francisco. Her practice involves care of patients in the Surgical ICU as well as trauma resuscitation in the emergency department, and patient care on medical surgical floors.

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

Roxanne Garbez joined the AG ACNP faculty in 1999 and has been Director of the AG ACNP Program since 2006. She completed her PhD at UCSF in 2008 with the research focus for her dissertation on emergency department triage with an emphasis on examining clinical decision making related to levels 2 and 3 within the 5-level Emergency Severity Index. For 17 years she maintained an active clinical practice as a nurse practitioner in a busy emergency department, and currently volunteers per diem as a nurse practitioner at a free clinic in San Francisco, providing Internal Medicine/Primary Care Services for uninsured adults with chronic and acute illness.

Lisa Guertin, RN, MS, ACNP
Associate Clinical Professor

Lisa Guertin joined the AG ACNP faculty in 2014. She worked as an RN in critical care settings from 2000 to 2010, then completed the AG ACNP program and has been working as an NP since 2010. She has an extensive clinical background in advanced heart failure and experience working with patients with complex conditions including heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support.

Jeneva Gularte-Rinaldo, RN, MSN, PhD
Assistant Clinical Professor

As a researcher, nurse and faculty in the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) in the school of nursing at UCSF, my designation as a content expert in the nursing areas of medical-surgical and geriatric nursing have allowed me to assure course and program coordination by supervising, teaching, and evaluating students and clinical instructors in classroom, skills lab, simulation, and clinical settings. Furthermore, I am engaged in inter-professional practice and conduct diversity education that addresses factors influencing health and illness in efforts to reduce health disparities and increase health equity. I am engaged in curriculum development and support the program by developing community relationships, reports, program appraisal, and other accreditation and approval related activities.

Lynda Mackin, PhD, AG PCNP-BC, CCNS
Clinical Professor

Dr. Mackin completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree at California State University, Fresno and both Master’s and Doctoral degrees in nursing at UCSF. She has been faculty in the School of Nursing since 1997 and holds national certifications as both an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AG PCNP-BC) and as an Adult Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CCNS). She currently directs all of the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Tracks and serves as the Coordinator for the Geriatrics Minor. She maintains an active community-based advanced nursing practice, specializing in care of frail older adults in their home or residential care facility.

Cynthia Singh, RN, MS, ACNP
Assistant Clinical Professor

Cynthia Singh has been faculty with the AG ACNP program since 2015. She graduated from the AG ACNP program in 2006 and maintains an active clinical practice as an NP in the emergency department and clinical decision units at Stanford University Medical Center.

Dawn Troeger, RN, MS, ACNP
Assistant Clinical Professor

Dawn Troeger has been faculty with the AG ACNP program since 2015. She graduated from the AG ACNP post-master’s program in 2012 and maintains an active clinical practice as an NP in the Intensive Care Unit at Eden Medical.

Carol Viele, RN, MS, CNS
Associate Clinical Professor

Carol Viele has been Volunteer Faculty in the School of Nursing since 1982. In 2013 she joined the clinical faculty in the AG CNS Oncology program. Carol is an Oncology Clinical Specialist with a certification as an Oncology Certified Nurse. She continues her active oncology clinical practice in the community setting.