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Ellen Olshansky, PhD - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Ellen Olshansky, PhD Ellen Olshansky, PhD

Professor and Chair, Department of Nursing and Faculty Associate, USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Women's health expert and social welfare advocate.



Ellen Olshansky, PhD Publication Ellen Olshansky, PhD Publication Ellen Olshansky, PhD Publication




Practical Approaches to Community Partnered Research | DII Symposium 2015 Department of Nursing - White Coat Ceremony and OCI



Ellen Olshansky serves as founding chair and professor of the new Department of Nursing at USC. She is a women’s health nurse practitioner and a researcher focused on women’s health across the lifespan, with a particular emphasis on reproductive health.

Before joining the USC faculty, she was professor and founding director of the Program in Nursing Science at the University of California, Irvine. While at UCI, she chaired the Community Engagement Unit of the Institute for Clinical & Translational Science, funded by the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Sciences Award. She also served as director of the newly inaugurated Initiative to End Family Violence. While at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, where she served as chair of the Department of Health and Community Systems, she developed an interdisciplinary qualitative research group.

Olshansky previously served as a board member of the Orange County Human Relations Council. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley, as well as a bachelor’s in nursing, master’s in women’s health and PhD in nursing science from UC San Francisco.

Education (3)

University of California, San Francisco: PhD, Nursing Science 1985

University of California, San Francisco: MS, Nursing 1979

University of California, Berkeley: BSW, Social Work 1972

Areas of Expertise (4)

Nursing Science Education Reproductive Health & Justice Reproductive Health Women's Health

Industry Expertise (8)

Elder Care Public Policy Health Care - Services Health Care - Facilities Health and Wellness Health Care - Providers Program Development Education/Learning

Accomplishments (2)

Engaged Faculty Award, Engage UCI (professional)

Awarded by University of California, Irvine

Community Nurse Researcher of the Year (professional)

University of California, Irvine, Chancellor’s Award


Media Appearances (9)

Understanding Barriers to Minority Mental Health Care

Department of Nursing at USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work  online


Spikes in violence and an uptick in school and mass shootings continue to propel discussion of the unmet demands of the American mental health system. A 2016 CDC report External link revealed suicide rates in the United States jumped a startling 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, with a marked increase in deaths from those as young as 10 to as old as 74. Diverse populations are most vulnerable to such neglect. A question repeatedly asked by both health experts and policy pundits is: If resources are not sufficient for the general population, how do underserved groups address their psychiatric needs?

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News Events Calendar News Archive Blog Newsletter Signup USC Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner Program Granted National Accreditation

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work  online


The Department of Nursing at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work has earned a prestigious national accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), an accrediting agency of the U.S. Department of Education.

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Toxic effects of stress on children separated from parents

The Hill  online


t’s been said that you can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they have tried everything else.

We cannot think of a better example than the Trump administration’s policy to forcibly remove children from parents caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally as they are seeking asylum from violence, presumably to deter people from entering the country illegally.

Their children, including babies and toddlers, are then labeled “unaccompanied alien children” (a phrase never intended to be applied to children who could not yet walk) and placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

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Researchers, LAFD take aim at reducing misuse of emergency medical services

USC News  


According to recent research, 15 percent of all EMS calls come from adults over the age of 50. “For older adults, we’d like to have services available so they don’t have to call 911,” said Ellen Olshansky, USC professor, chair of the department of nursing and co-principal investigator on the project. “We hope to bring the percentage of misdirected calls from older adults down to about 5 percent.”...

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Discrimination can have negative effects on physical, mental health: Expert

NBC News  


When people face biases, including those related to race and religion, they may not have adequate access to healthcare or be reluctant to access it, Ellen Olshansky, chair of the new Department of Nursing at the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, told NBC News.

“There may be people in Muslim countries who would like to come to the U.S. for specific healthcare treatments that may not be available to them in their own countries, but this travel ban would prevent them from coming to the U.S.,” Olshansky said. “There may also be family members in the U.S. who are ill and whose relatives would like to visit them and provide support, but they will not be able to do so if this travel ban takes effect.”...

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USC school challenges status quo on poverty

USC News  


During the panel discussion, which included Niels Frenzen, director of the USC Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic, and Ellen Olshansky, chair of the Department of Nursing at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, the speakers discussed how their respective areas of expertise view poverty and its effects on people...

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Department of Nursing holds its first white coat ceremony for grad students

USC News  


Professor Ellen Olshansky, chair of the Department of Nursing, also emphasized the value of training nurses in both the science of nursing and the science of social work.

“Our program gives nurses a balanced preparation for looking at health and facilitates collaborative health care,” she said. “Nurses need partners in social work to improve outcomes, and they can, in turn, make health policy recommendations and advocate against policies that cause health inequalities.”...

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Using social work to train new nurses

Advance Healthcare Network  


"Our vision is to combine science of social work and science of nursing," said Ellen Olshansky, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, FAAN, chair of department of nursing at USC School of Social Work...

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Social Work Graduates its First Class of Family Nurse Practitioners

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work  online


The first class of graduates from the new online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) for aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work receive their degrees in May 2018.

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  • Keynote
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Articles & Publications (5)

Relational-cultural Theory as a Framework for Mentoring in Academia: Toward Diversity and Growth-fostering Collaborative Scholarly Relationships Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning

Consuella Lewis, Ellen Olshansky


Mentoring in academia that encourages collaboration and interpersonal relationships is important in helping newer faculty members attain success. Developing such programs is challenging within our prevailing academic context that rewards competition and individually delineated success. We propose that Relational Cultural Theory, a feminist approach to healthy psychological growth, developed by Jean Baker Miller and colleagues at the Stone Center at Wellesley College, is an appropriate framework to guide effective mentoring programs, with a particular focus on cross-cultural mentoring of protégés in academia who are women and/or of color. We suggest the traditionally individual-oriented definition of success in academia could be modified toward more emphasis on collaboration, recognizing, and celebrating the rich diversity within academia. This emphasis can strengthen organizations by increasing and embracing diversity, adding to the richness of ideas and approaches to societal problems. Mentoring is defined through an expanded view that recognizes healthy collaboration as an indicator of success in academia.

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A Community-Based Home Visitation Program's Impact on Birth Outcomes The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing


Background: MOMS Orange County is a coordinated home visitation program in which trained paraprofessional home visitors work under the close supervision of registered nurses. This model was developed to address health disparities in birth outcomes in a Hispanic community in Orange County, CA.

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Hispanic parents’ experiences of the process of caring for a child undergoing routine surgery: A focus on pain and pain management Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing


Purpose: The purpose was to understand the processes Hispanic parents undergo in managing postoperative care of children after routine surgical procedures.

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Web-Based Tailored Intervention for Preparation of Parents and Children for Outpatient Surgery (WebTIPS): Formative Evaluation and Randomized Controlled Trial Anesthesia and analgesia


Background: The purpose of this two-phase project was to conduct formative evaluation and test the preliminary efficacy of a newly developed web-based, tailored behavioral preparation program (WebTIPS) for children undergoing outpatient surgery and their parents.

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A tumor DNA complex aberration index is an independent predictor of survival in breast and ovarian cancer Molecular oncology


Complex focal chromosomal rearrangements in cancer genomes, also called “firestorms”, can be scored from DNA copy number data. The complex arm-wise aberration index (CAAI) is a score that captures DNA copy number alterations that appear as focal complex events in tumors, and has potential prognostic value in breast cancer. This study aimed to validate this DNA-based prognostic index in breast cancer and test for the first time its potential prognostic value in ovarian cancer. Copy number alteration (CNA) data from 1950 breast carcinomas (METABRIC cohort) and 508 high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas (TCGA dataset) were analyzed. Cases were classified as CAAI positive if at least one complex focal event was scored. Complex alterations were frequently localized on chromosome 8p (n = 159), 17q (n = 176) and 11q (n = 251). CAAI events on 11q were most frequent in estrogen receptor positive (ER+) cases and on 17q in estrogen receptor negative (ER−) cases. We found only a modest correlation between CAAI and the overall rate of genomic instability (GII) and number of breakpoints (r = 0.27 and r = 0.42, p < 0.001). Breast cancer specific survival (BCSS), overall survival (OS) and ovarian cancer progression free survival (PFS) were used as clinical end points in Cox proportional hazard model survival analyses. CAAI positive breast cancers (43%) had higher mortality: hazard ratio (HR) of 1.94 (95%CI, 1.62–2.32) for BCSS, and of 1.49 (95%CI, 1.30–1.71) for OS. Representations of the 70-gene and the 21-gene predictors were compared with CAAI in multivariable models and CAAI was independently significant with a Cox adjusted HR of 1.56 (95%CI, 1.23–1.99) for ER+ and 1.55 (95%CI, 1.11–2.18) for ER− disease. None of the expression-based predictors were prognostic in the ER− subset. We found that a model including CAAI and the two expression-based prognostic signatures outperformed a model including the 21-gene and 70-gene signatures but excluding CAAI. Inclusion of CAAI in the clinical prognostication tool PREDICT significantly improved its performance. CAAI positive ovarian cancers (52%) also had worse prognosis: HRs of 1.3 (95%CI, 1.1–1.7) for PFS and 1.3 (95%CI, 1.1–1.6) for OS. This study validates CAAI as an independent predictor of survival in both ER+ and ER− breast cancer and reveals a significant prognostic value for CAAI in high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

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