Ren Capucao, MSN, RN, CNL is the recipient of the M. Louise Fitzpatrick Scholarship. He is a third year PhD candidate at the University of Virginia School of Nursing (UVA SON) and enrolled in the graduate certificate programs for American Studies and Digital Humanities. This makes him a “Triple Hoo”, as he previously obtained his Bachelor of Art in History and Master of Science in Nursing degrees at the same university.
His immersion into nursing and healthcare began at a young age under the care of his mother, a registered nurse. This event coincides with his propensity toward history, which has served as his approach to understanding identity and the human experience. His exploration of the intersections between healthcare and history espoused a clear trajectory to undergo doctoral training as a nurse historian at the UVA SON Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry—one of only two academic-affiliated nursing history centers in the United States.
His dissertation research explores histories of Filipino nurses from below through the lens of critical disability studies. He examines the ablebodied construction and subjectivity of Filipino nurses since the twentieth century onwards. In doing so, he intends to politically intervene upon issues of health and racial inequity embedded across the bedside and the global healthcare arena: the professionalization of nursing, nursing shortages, unidirectional migration patterns of internationally educated nurses, and poor healthcare access in the global South.
He is the recipient of the 2020 Alice Fisher Society Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing and a 2022-2023 Fulbright Scholarship. He has also received external funding from Virginia Humanities to create a public history exhibition on the history of Filipino nurses in Virginia. He has contributed his scholarship to Vox’s production of “Why the US has so many Filipino nurses.”
Ren’s work extends beyond academia. He maintains employment as a registered nurse on the pediatric transitional care unit at the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. He also serves as an oral history consultant for the Philippine Nurses Association of America. Aside from paid work, he volunteers as an editor for Nursing Clio, a peer-reviewed blog website. He also contributes his time as a member of the Philippine Nurses Association of Virginia and Filipino Nursing Diaspora Network.
As society pushes towards becoming more inclusive and accessible, nurse historians are needed to scrutinize present-day constructions of nursing, care, and health. Ren, therefore, hopes to improve inclusivity and accessibility across nursing research, education, practice, and health policy. Within nursing schools, he plans to teach the history of nursing and advocate for its re-integration into curriculums. More broadly, he intends to use his cross-disciplinary training and historical scholarship to demystify the concept of care and its relationship to nursing identity, exhume the voices of nurses historically positioned at the periphery, and inform pubilc policy that espouses equitable health access globally.
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