Symptom Management Fellowships

Funding for Ph.D. in Nursing Students

Symptom Management Fellowships for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Nursing Students

If you are interested in advancing the science of symptom management, a major issue in biobehavioral research, the OHSU School of Nursing has a great new opportunity for pre- and post-doctoral students. The School of Nursing has been awarded a research training grant that focuses on preparing nurse scientists to conduct research on symptom management. This funding opportunity for new and current nursing Ph.D. students provides a context for exploring how individuals care for themselves within a family environment as well as how families care for the individual. 

This traineeship program emphasizes individual symptom management in the context of families and requires funded doctoral students to conduct research that will examine a wide variety of symptoms and disease states. Currently, OHSU nurse researchers are evaluating symptoms associated with antiretroviral therapy, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, immediate and late effects of cancer treatment, dementia, urine leakage, fatigue in chronic heart failure, headache, dyspnea, heartburn, musculoskeletal pain, and arthritis. The ultimate goal of this fellowship opportunity is to train researchers capable of developing and testing interventions that support optimal individual and family functioning in the context of illness.  

Faculty researchers have specific ongoing programs of research in three areas pertinent to the training program:

  • Individual symptom management
  • Family
  • Family symptom management
If you are interested in one of these areas of inquiry and are looking to join the OHSU School of Nursing Ph.D. in nursing program, please contact our faculty researchers to learn more about their specific research in symptom management and to discuss your ideas and plans.

Predoctoral fellowships  

The two-year predoctoral fellowships provide 60% of tuition and fees, health insurance, a modest stipend, and travel funds. Students are required to take three courses that provide the foundation of the research training focus and their dissertation research: N640 Symptom Management; N643 Theoretical and Methodological Approaches in the Study of Family Health & Illness; and N607H Special Topics: Conceptual and Methodological Issues in the Study of Individual and Family Symptom Management. Students are also asked to take a set of courses from another discipline (interdisciplinary cognate). Examples include courses from developmental psychology, social work, human development and family studies, and neuroscience.

There are three types of research opportunities available to trainees:

  • Research assistantships with faculty on research projects in individual symptom management family, or family symptom management. 
  • A required research practicum experience with faculty.
  • Research seminars.
In addition, trainees will be able to attend, with faculty, one annual scientific meeting of a symptom-focused organization, such as Oncology Nursing Society, American Heart Association, American Pain Society, or another meeting devoted to specific symptoms or health issues that have strong symptom research interests, as well as one scientific meeting of the National Council on Family Relations.


In addition to meeting the general admissions criteria to the Ph.D. in nursing program, candidates for a predoctoral traineeship must:

  • Identify a faculty member with whom you have discussed your interest and ideas to indicate a match between your research interests and the program faculty member.
  • Submit a letter of application that describes a commitment to a research career and an interest in research on individual or family symptom management. Address the letter of application to the T32 Administrative Advisory Committee, Attention: Dr. Gail Houck.
  • Priority application deadline of February 1 of each academic year, however, applications are still accepted post-deadline. 

Postdoctoral fellowships

Beginning May 2008, the OHSU School of Nursing will be able to award two two-year postdoctoral fellowships to nurses with a doctorate who wish to obtain research training for the study of individual and family symptom management. Tuition and fees for ten credits per year, health insurance, a modest stipend, and travel funds are provided. During the training period, the postdoctoral trainees are housed in a shared private office with other postdoctoral fellows. 

The postdoctoral training program emphasizes preparation to launch an independent program of research that embraces individual and family perspectives in the study of symptoms and symptom management. Postdoctoral trainees work alongside their mentors collaborating on research projects and using that experience as a foundation for their own work. The interdisciplinary contacts and networking provided to the trainee by the mentor are a fundamental aspect of the process and are intended to establish the trainee as a credible researcher with the skills and socialization necessary for a competitive research career. Postdoctoral trainees design a tailored 20-credit program of study (ten credits per year) that strengthens the trainee's preparation to conduct research. Drawing from the same courses required of predoctoral trainees, the tailored program is determined based on the postdoctoral trainee's prior preparation and current research goals.


Candidates for a postdoctoral traineeship must: 

  • Hold a bachelor's and/or master's degree in nursing from an accredited school. 
  • Have earned a doctoral degree in nursing or a related field (e.g., Ph.D., DNSc, Ed.D., or DrPH).
  • Identify a potential primary mentor from the program faculty to determine sufficient match and whether the mentor can indeed make the commitment to sponsor a postdoctoral trainee. The basis for this mentoring relationship is typically a match between the expertise of the mentor and the research interests, needs, and plans of the applicant.
  • Submit a plan for research training jointly developed by the candidate and mentoring faculty member
  • Submit a letter of application indicating your intent and goals for the program. Address the letter to: T32 Administrative Advisory Committee, Attention: Dr. Gail Houck.
  • Priority application deadline of February 1 of each academic year, however, applications are still accepted post-deadline.

OHSU Faculty-Driven Research in Symptom Management 

  • OHSU researchers in individual symptom management include Drs. Lillian Nail (identifying symptom clusters in people with cancer, connecting symptoms with function); Kim Jones (maximizing exercise effects in fibromyalgia, peripheral and central postural disorders in the elderly, identifying balance dysfunction and fall risk in fibromyalgia, epidemiologic survey of management, disability and functionality in fibromyalgia); Kathleen Knafl (measuring self-management of type-1 diabetes in teens); Anne Rosenfeld (treatment-seeking delay in women with heart disease); and Lisa Wood (the role of cytokine deregulation in cancer treatment-related fatigue, moderation of cancer-related symptoms using p38 MAPK or dual p38 MPK/JNK inhibitors).
  • Family research programs include the work of Drs. Gail Houck (maternal-toddler interactions and child developmental outcomes, school-age mental health); Judith Kendall (nurse case-management intervention for ADHD families); Kathleen Knafl (assessing family management of childhood chronic illness, parents' interpretation and use of genetic information); Karen Lyons (the family living with lung cancer); Deborah Messecar (family re-integration following guard deployment); Nancy Press (family disclosure of cancer risk, communication interventions with melanoma families); and Anne Rosenfeld (treatment-seeking delay in victims of sudden cardiac death).
  • Research that exemplifies family symptom management is conducted by Drs. Deborah Eldredge (customizing families' symptom management skills post HSCT) and Vivian Gedaly-Duff (chemotherapy, pain, sleep, fatigue in children and parents).