Dr. Lisa Vandemark, Uses Fulbright Scholarship to Study Health Policy in Thailand
Lisa M. Vandemark, Ph.D., APRN, BC is a board certified psychiatric advanced practice nurse, and a geographer. She is Assistant Professor of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC., and a 2008-2009 Fulbright Research Scholar and consultant at the College of Medicine and Public Health, Ubonratchathani University, Thailand. Her interests are in health policy, community health, access to healthcare, and health-related quality of life, especially among disadvantaged populations.
Dr. Vandemark’s interest in public policy began over a decade ago when she worked with communities in coastal New Jersey to protect the environment and improve quality of life. Recognizing how central local, state, and national policy and legislation were to these environmental issues, she applied for a fellowship in science and technology policy at the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington, DC.
She subsequently received her Ph.D. in 2000, and was hired by the National Research Council in Washington, DC as a geographer. Her work took her all over the world, but focused mostly on policy-level studies to promote sustainable development in disadvantaged communities in the United States and in sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa in 2002 and 2003, she met with representatives from all sorts of organizations, notably universities, to talk about how they could use satellite data for research and planning. She observed that the problems were the same that she was used to hearing—resource scarcity, climate change, and workforce deficits, for example—but that Africans framed these issues in terms of health, rather than environment.
Health and the environment are two sides of the same coin, yet this shift in perspective coupled with her growing interest in working more closely with communities prompted her to return to school for a clinical master’s degree in nursing. She now pursues research on community factors that influence health-related quality of life here in South Carolina, and in Thailand, where she was a Fulbright Scholar this year. Dr. Vandemark’s policy-level interests persist: She views nursing as a discipline in bridging the gap between community planners and the communities they serve.
Conversation with an MUSC Fulbright Scholarship Recipient