Victoria Michalchuk’s journey into nursing started off innocently enough: during summer break from college, she volunteered to drive her grandparents to their cardiology appointment. At the doctor’s office, her grandmother told the cardiologist that Michalchuk was looking for a summer job.
She figured the request might lead to a gig in the mailroom, but instead he offered to have her shadow him as he met with patients and participate in research examining the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. While she had always had an interest in wellness, the 18 months spent under his mentorship clarified for her that her future lay in health care.
“I saw people in that office and the years of wear and tear on their bodies,” Michalchuk said. “I began to think about what we eat, what we’re exposed to and all the other things compounding to affect our health. I like to think I could have been a great heart surgeon, but my passion lies before that. How do we get people healthier so they’re not coming in here in the first place?”
"I like to think I could have been a great heart surgeon, but my passion lies before that. How do we get people healthier so they’re not coming in here in the first place?”
— Victoria Michalchuk, PhD ’21, MS '16
That passion drove Michalchuk (MS ’16, PhD ’21) to apply to the UCSF School of Nursing, where she gained the skills that have made her successful as a senior wellness program manager at Genentech.
“UCSF prepared me to be a thinker,” she said. “The curriculum was not designed to give me all the answers; it taught me how to seek out solutions. That’s important in health care where things are always evolving.”
Her tireless efforts were acknowledged when her team received the 2019 Building Health Leadership Award from the Green Health Partnership – a research and development initiative involving the U.S. Green Building Council, the University of Virginia and the International WELL Building Institute – for their work on Genentech’s new employee center in South San Francisco. The building was lauded for promoting physical activity and positive mental health, and utilizing sustainable materials.
After completing her master’s degree, Michalchuk said it was a natural fit to pursue her PhD at UCSF. Although the combination of her full-time role at Genentech, her doctoral studies and raising a family can be taxing at times, the work is worthwhile and provides a bright future.
“Doors are open as long as you’re ready to walk through them,” she said. “With my skill set there is a lot of opportunity here.”