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Ph.D. Perspectives

Ph.D. Perspectives

“I want to pass on what I have been learning in this country about nursing and research so that nursing science continues to move forward.”

Growing up in Japan, Yui Matsuda did not have much interaction with the health care arena, but she found an unexpected calling to the field.

“At home, nursing is perceived as a submissive role, which isn’t my personality,” she said. “My family and friends were very surprised when I decided to become a nurse.”

Matsuda chose to begin her nursing studies in the U.S. to improve her English-language skills and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at a rural school in Virginia. Now a doctoral student in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing, she has earned a graduate research assistant position with the Center for Biobehavioral and Clinical Research. As a staff nurse at VCU, she was fascinated by the collaboration in patient care and found the interdisciplinary nature of research to be even more collaborative and exciting.

“We look at the person as a whole and even beyond, to how they interact with their family and friends, how those relationships and societal structure may impact their health,” she said. “We don’t just look at one organ or specialty — we have a broader perspective.”

In addition to supervising research assistants in the CBCR and assisting with organizing the center’s projects and associated activities, Matsuda is pursuing her own research interests of family planning in Latino couples. She first became interested in the subject after visiting her husband’s village in El Salvador, where she saw many single mothers and started to question the dynamics that lead to their predicament. As part of her dissertation, she hopes to learn more about the complexity of family planning discussions and find ways to support partners in improving these discussions. Ultimately, she wants to improve family reproductive and health outcomes and quality of life for the family.

“My husband’s presence in my life has definitely influenced my research topic,” she said. “Family planning is traditionally seen as a female matter, even though conception is a couple’s activity. I’ve been learning about the Latino culture, but I’ll never be a Latina, so it’s been comforting to know that my husband can provide culturally sensitive input.”

Matsuda has been impressed with the support she’s received from the faculty in the School of Nursing.

“My interactions with professors have been really encouraging,” she said. “I get to see them as a person and learn from them. It has been a wonderful learning experience to have mentors that are kind and generous with their guidance. Their support has pushed me to see and do more.”

She hopes to carry her experiences at VCU forward and return to Japan or other international locations to help train the next generation of health care professionals and continue her research trajectory.

“I want to pass on what I have been learning in this country about nursing and research so that nursing science continues to move forward,” Matsuda said. “Providing direct patient care is important and imminently needed, but I also see the importance of research and teaching. If I teach nurses, they can teach others — those numbers multiply quickly.”

Creating collaboration. Advancing science. Impacting lives.