UCSF Nursing Postdocs Are Advancing the Science of Health Care. Here's How.

(Photo credit: Elisabeth Fall)

By Milenko Martinovich/March 2021

Once a week, UCSF postdoctoral scholar Anna Oh visits the Colma Veterans Village, a housing center near San Francisco, where a new initiative has launched to help aging veterans who are formerly homeless.

The first-of-its-kind initiative combines permanent housing with care from an interdisciplinary team, including a nurse, geriatrician and social worker. These support services are critical because veterans are more susceptible to mental health issues such as suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, as well as physical issues, such as chronic pain, compared to the broader population. As they age, their conditions worsen.

Oh, a fellow in the Veterans Affairs Quality Scholars program, is evaluating how well the team is connecting veterans to important resources. She is also documenting the barriers veterans encounter, such as low incomes and veterans believing they don’t need assistance.

“The transition from homelessness to having a home can be tough,” Oh said. “They built a community on the streets and, sometimes within the four walls of a home, they can feel even more alone. Because of medical conditions, functional impairment and sometimes substance use, they need extra support.”

Oh is among the two dozen postdocs at the UCSF School of Nursing who are conducting research to advance health equity for vulnerable populations.

The postdoctoral experience at the UCSF School of Nursing offers a vibrant research environment where early-stage investigators are challenged to grow while supported by  faculty mentors who are leading scholars in their fields. That support, coupled with UCSF’s institutional commitment to health equity and access to resources, creates opportunities for budding researchers to enhance their knowledge and skills.

A Place to Grow and Be Challenged

The School offers postdoctoral opportunities through four fellowship programs, established with funding from the National Institutes of Health or in partnership with such leading institutions as Veterans Affairs and the National Clinician Scholars Program. Postdoctoral studies can also be arranged by individual request with School faculty, depending on the subject area.

While many Americans shuttered their travel plans last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, José Gutierrez moved across the country without a second thought. He knew his research, focused on aiding at-risk military members and veterans, would be enhanced by a postdoctoral fellowship at the UCSF School of Nursing.

“I knew it would be a great place to not only continue to grow, but also be challenged by researchers,” said Gutierrez, who received his PhD in nursing from Yale University last year. “I feel like I need that to strengthen my research trajectory and career.”

Read the full story in our School's Science of Caring online publication.

(Posted: March 19, 2021)