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UMB Professor Selected As American Academy of Nursing Fellow

In recognition of her work with underserved patients in the United States, Dr. Lin Zhan, associate professor in UMass Boston’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Asian American Studies Program, is the only nurse in Massachusetts selected as a 2001 Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

“Being an Academy Fellow will give me more responsibilities and I feel that much work lies ahead,” Zhan stated. She explained that upon her selection as a Fellow, she was invited to serve on three expert panels. These panels, which focus on cultural competency, international nursing, and aging, aim to “provide leadership in knowledge development, improve quality of health care, and advance nursing.”

Zhan began her medical education in China, where she earned her bachelor of science degree at West China University of Medical Sciences. She went on to earn her master’s degree of science at the Boston University School of Nursing and a Ph.D. at Boston College. Now, in addition to her position at UMB, Zhan is an honorary professor at three Chinese universities, and through these positions has facilitated advances in Chinese nursing education.

Zhan’s progress in the United States has ranged from a collaboration with community leaders and advocates, which led to the development of the first Asian American outreach site in Malden, to leading nursing students to provide care to new immigrants from South America, Africa, and Central America, as well as elderly, isolated patients. Through such projects, she has made health care accessible to patients who are normally underserved due to “financial, ethno-cultural, and linguistic barriers,” and in the case of the elderly, patients who are “socially isolated by transportation difficulties or confined to their own apartments due to multiple chronic conditions.”

In addition to working directly with patients, Zhan identifies and raises awareness of minority health issues by giving speeches, serving on various state advisory boards, including the Advisory Board for Minority Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and working with public policy makers. Described as “an educator par excellence,” Zhan has been lauded for her exemplary work on both local and state levels. The National League for Nursing awarded her the Lucile Petry Leone Award in 1995 for her contribution to nursing education. In 1996, Theta Chapter, Theta Sigma Tau gave her an award for outstanding research. Also, the American Journal of Nursing distinguished her book, Asian Voices: Asian and Asian American Health Educators Speak Out, as 2000 Book of the Year.

Looking forward as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Zhan will expand on her work with and on behalf of underserved patients with two new books. One is a “second Asian Voices book, focusing mainly on emerging issues in Southeast Asian Americans.” This book will also feature several other UMB faculty members as contributing writers. The other is a “gerontological nursing textbook for Chinese nurses,” which aims to “prepare graduates with a body of knowledge to care for the growing aged population in China.” Zhan added, “I am excited about this project and expect it to be completed in 2002.”

Zhan is also researching Asian family caregiver experiences for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and associated disorders. Through this project, Zhan hopes to “improve demential care services to be ethno-culturally appropriate and sensitive” by providing research about “what Asian family caregivers experience and the strong stigma attached to these conditions in the Asian community.”