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Stanford researcher Garrett Chan

New postdoctoral fellowship will allow nurse-scientists to conduct palliative care research

Stanford Medicine is introducing a new postdoctoral fellowship for nurse-scientists in palliative care. The program begins in the fall.

Garrett Chan, PhD, a nurse-scientist and clinical associate professor of medicine, never sits still for long.

We had just finished a conversation about his latest endeavor – the launch of a new palliative care postdoctoral fellowship for nurse-scientists – and he was already running back to the hospital to shuttle between his roles as faculty member, educator, nurse practitioner, and research scientist.

Though Chan is a nurse by training, his interests and responsibilities vary widely. And it’s this interdisciplinary interpretation of nurses – how they can broadly contribute to research and health care systems alongside physicians and basic scientists – that informs Stanford Medicine’s new fellowship. “We thought a postdoctoral fellowship in research for nurses would be a good place to start,” Chan explained. “We wanted to create a space where they are able to contribute to the academic mission of the university through interdisciplinary science within the health care system.”

The program is the brainchild of co-directors Chan and Karl Lorenz, MD, a professor of medicine and the section chief of palliative care at the VA, as well as David Pickham, PhD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine and the program's associate director, who envisioned a uniquely integrated environment where they could train fellows as both researchers and future thought-leaders in the palliative care space. Wide-ranging collaboration and mentorship will be key tenets of the experience, Chan said, and nurse-scientists will be connected to all five of Stanford’s schools – from engineering to business.

Fellows can expect to participate in the academic and research activities of the new interdisciplinary Stanford Palliative Care Center of Excellence and to contribute to the palliative care and geriatric clinical services teams. They’ll also have the opportunity to work closely with scientists at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s Center for Innovation to Implementation on projects that address “quality and value of care, clinical informatics, pain management, and caregiving,” said Lorenz.

The program – which was made possible through funding from the Stanford Nurse Alumnae Association – uniquely emphasizes implementation science, as well as potential applications of technology. The goals are for nurse-scientists to: (a) establish their own program of research in palliative care; (b) learn to integrate significant research findings into clinical practice; (c) develop skills to secure funding through grants; (d) disseminate their research through presentations and publications; and (e) achieve sustainable careers as leaders in nursing scholarship and practice.

According to Chan, primary criteria for successful applicants include a “strong interest” in cutting-edge palliative care research, and a “creative mindset.” He continued: “We’re looking for candidates who are excited to engage in scientific inquires that take advantage of the vast resources Stanford has to offer.”

The program will begin in fall 2018 and will last one year, with the possibility of extension for outstanding candidates. Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis. Questions about the fellowship should be directed to Sana Younus at research@stanfordhealthcare.org.

Photo of Garrett Chan by Steve Fisch

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