When Claire Gilpin was 9, her parents often found her reading the Physicians’ Desk Reference, the guide to prescription drugs.
When she decided to enroll in the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing’s Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN), they joked she’d have a leg up in the pharmacology courses.
However, her journey to MEPN has been anything but linear.
As an undergraduate, Gilpin enrolled in college as a chemistry major.
“I always loved the sciences and was particularly interested in chemistry,” she recalls. “But then I realized it wasn’t quite what I wanted to do.”
Switching gears to outer space
She saw a class called “Introduction to Stars and Galaxies,” figuring she would enjoy some stargazing and find a new path.
Gilpin didn’t get much stargazing — the class was more about the life cycles of stars and galaxies than observing them — but she did find a new path: astrophysics. She switched majors and eventually earned her bachelor’s, then came to UCI for her physics PhD.
She was three years into the program when she learned about MEPN. The timing was fortuitous.
“I had gotten a few years in and wanted to steer myself toward healthcare,” she says. After attending an information session, she was hooked. “I immediately knew that this was right and definitely what I wanted to do.”
A scientist family
As soon as she finished her PhD in physics, she enrolled in the nursing program.
Her career change wasn’t a complete surprise to her parents, who are medical researchers themselves: her mom is a clinical trials methodologist; her dad is a microbiologist.
After Gilpin graduates this year, she’s eager to work at the patients’ bedside, whether it’s labor and delivery, critical care or something else.
But she also wants science to be a core component of her work. She recently published her first paper, “Structural violence: A concept analysis to inform nursing science and practice.” The paper, which examines how societal conditions disadvantage and oppress members of certain groups, which ultimately leads to poorer health outcomes for them. Gilpin wrote the paper with Assistant Professor Candace Burton, PhD.
“One of the things I’d like to do in my career is make sure that research is always part of it,” she says. “Research is my roots.”