Blog Post

Healthforce faculty receive new investigator, mentorship awards

Jun. 06, 2016

The leading forum on health services research, the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, takes place June 26-28 in Boston, and Healthforce Center faculty will take center stage with awards, presentations and posters.

Ulrike Muench, assistant professor at UCSF School of Nursing, will receive the 2016 Interdisciplinary Research Group on Nursing Issues New Investigator Award for her research on independent scope of practice for nurse practitioners.

Muench trained as a nurse and nurse practitioner, obtained her MSN and PhD from the Yale School of Nursing and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University. She came to UCSF as a faculty member in 2014, but her interest in nursing scope of practice goes back to a high school internship at a hospital in Germany, where she grew up. “I observed conversations between nurses and physicians and what struck me was the hierarchy in the system,” Muench said. “I started thinking about how the team component of care could change if nurses received additional training and responsibility.”

Muench’s award-winning research analyzed 28 million peoples’ health insurance claims data. She found that independent nurse practitioner scope of practice may lead to a drop in prices, a finding she will continue to research and analyze to better understand the cause.

“It was not a surprise to me when I learned that Ulli was selected as new investigator of the year,” said Joanne Spetz, Healthforce Center at UCSF’s associate director of research. “She’s a rising star.”

Spetz, who is winning this year’s mentorship award, is a star of her own caliber.

“Joanne has such a wealth of knowledge and experience, in addition to such a kind nature and generosity, and doesn’t mind sharing the knowledge and experience she has accumulated over the years,” said Associate Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy Maia Platt, who, along with Muench, nominated Spetz for the award. “What makes Joanne so special is the combination of high professionalism, great experience and personal warmth and understanding.” While those features are not uncommon and could be separately observed in a lot of people, it is unique to see them all in one person, Platt said.

“What I’d love to see at Academy Health in ten years is for some of my mentees to receive mentorship awards because they’re paying it forward and facilitating the next generation of researchers,” Spetz said.

In addition to the awards, Healthforce Center faculty, including Susan Chapman, Janet Coffman, Kristine Himmerick, Muench and Spetz, will present research about peer providers in behavioral health, simulation education’s impact on nurses, nurse practitioners’ role in filling rural primary care gaps, primary dental health aides, community paramedicine, scope of practice and more.

To learn more about Healthforce Center at UCSF research visit: