I have spent most of my professional social work career as a practitioner, specializing in gerontology and hospice care for the past fifteen years. After receiving my MSW from the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Social Work in 1992, I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to pursue a doctoral degree from the University of Hawaii. My reason for going there was due to my interest in cross-cultural social work research. I had the great fortune to work at the MSW level at several wonderful organizations in Hawaii, and this is where I got my start with hospice. While working these wonderful social work jobs, I also began my doctoral studies.
In doctoral training, I specialized in social work gerontology, with an emphasis on care giving for older adults, and the impact of culture on family care giving. It was during this time that I learned to love research, and could see how research was needed to make us better social work practitioners. I was fortunate to be able to teach research to MSW students during my doctoral studies as well, resulting in over ten years now of teaching research methods!
Once I completed the doctorate in 2002, I did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii. Again, I developed research studies on culture and family care giving at the end of life. I had the benefit of international travel during this time to learn and present cross-cultural findings from my studies.
In 2005, I was fortunate to be hired by the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Social Work. This is a Research I designated institution, which means that research is highly valued. Since being back in Reno, I have become involved with the adult guardianship community, and have developed studies to identify quality-of-life indicators for those in guardianship. I continue to study family care giving, end of life psycho-social issues, and the impact of culture.
What I have learned is that it is possible to provide direct social work service “well,” but only if the practices are informed by research and statistics. It is also essential (to me) that research is community or agency-based and that it has relevance to those at the frontlines, the ones actually providing or receiving services.
It is for these reasons that I enjoy teaching research and statistics to social work students (who generally don’t want to learn it!). If you can learn to appreciate the role and use of research in social work practice, I will feel that my teaching mission has been accomplished.
On a personal note, I very much enjoy life in the Reno/Tahoe area. I believe it to be one of the most perfect places to live. I was fortunate to marry my long-time partner in August 2008, and therefore I keep my ties with Hawaii as well, as my husband still works there. I take great pleasure from my two German Sheppard rescue dogs, who seem to require constant training.
- Ph.D.-2002, University of Hawaii at Manoa
- M.S.W.-1992, University of Nevada, Reno
- B.A.-1988, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities