A Luncheon for Donors

November 2013Diana Austin

On October 3, Dean David Vlahov and a group of students, faculty and alumni gathered to honor the donors who have made it possible for the UC San Francisco School of Nursing to attract and educate the best and the brightest from around the globe through scholarships, faculty support and the development of innovative programs.

“We want to provide the highest-quality and most innovative nursing education and to develop leaders in nursing,” Vlahov told the group. “Your gifts have allowed us to recruit the top students and provide them with the scholarships that have enabled them to afford the cost of education.” He added that the School’s committed students and faculty, combined with an emphasis on innovation and interprofessional education, have made UCSF one of the top-ranking nursing and PhD programs in the country.

Among the programs Vlahov singled out were the Chancellor’s Endowed Scholarship, made possible by a 2012 gift by Herbert Gabriel in honor of his late wife, a School of Nursing alumna; the newly established David Mortara Distinguished Professorship in Physiological Nursing Research; and the School of Nursing’s diabetes minor, created last year with a $1.5 million gift, which gives master’s students additional expertise in caring for diabetes patients across their life span.

Master’s and PhD students who have benefited from donor funding were on hand to express their gratitude, and several were invited to share their stories.

Alice Asher, a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Community Health Systems, studies hepatitis C prevention and treatment, working with the homeless and injection drug users. “You don’t get a lot of money doing that work,” she said. Receiving the Graduate Dean’s Health Sciences Fellowship has allowed her to continue her studies and work with an often-forgotten population.

A second-year doctoral student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nancy Dudley is studying health policy related to aging. She noted that without the support she’s received from the John A. Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence, (the Dr. Shirley Sears Chater Award for Excellence and Leadership in Gerontological Nursing and the Jeanie Schmit Kayser-Jones Scholarship) – as well as the Graduate Dean’s Health Sciences Fellowship – she would not have been able to pursue her education at UCSF, where the commitment to interdisciplinary education provides crucial benefits. “Investigating new ways of delivering health care requires an interdisciplinary perspective to promote interprofessional collaboration to advance quality care, public service and research.”

Master’s student Ryan Anson Kortney Parman is a second-year master’s student in the Family Nurse Practitioner program. A registered dietitian, she decided to go back to school for her nursing master’s after working with nurse practitioners, and hopes to combine the two fields in her work. “I really love working with teenagers, so I came to UCSF because we have the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program, so I get to do a lot of extra clinic hours and didactic hours working with teenagers,” she said. Support from donors allows her to “do a few more hours of studying and a few less working at [San Francisco General Hospital] on the night shift.”

Another career-changer is Ryan Anson, a second-year master’s student in the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program, specializing in HIV. A former photojournalist, he finished the master’s entry program in nursing and “fell in love” with psychiatric care during his first nursing job in a community mental health organization. He’s pursuing an extra year of training, made possible by grants from donors. He cited the expertise and opportunities that are available to students as key elements of the excellent education he is getting at UCSF. “It’s magical to have that at our fingertips,” he said.