Farland and Rainbow named Udall Center Fellows

May 28, 2024

Leslie Farland, ScD, a University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Jessica Rainbow, PhD, RN, a UArizona College of Nursing assistant professor, have been named 2024-25 Udall Center Fellows

Portrait of Leslie Farland and Jessica Rainbow outside standing back to back.

(From left) Jessica Rainbow, PhD, RN, and Leslie Farland, ScD, are Udall Center Fellows for 2024-25.

Photo by Noelle Haro-Gomez, UArizona Health Sciences Office of Communications

The UC Fellows Program offers university faculty members the opportunity to do scholarly work on public policy. Farland and Rainbow will study the safety of the work environment for potential childbearing female nurses and how the job setting and its demands impact their postpartum return to work.

Farland and Rainbow will be working in conjunction with the BIO5 Institute. This is the Udall Center’s first full-term collaboration with BIO5.

Though this is the first research pairing for the Udall program, Farland and Rainbow previously worked together on a pilot study related to nurse health at work during pregnancy. They said they will begin working on their new project in the fall.

Rainbow said her interest in nurse health and safety started when she worked the night shift in an intensive care unit. There, she saw firsthand the high demands, turnover and burnout nurses face. She noticed pregnant coworkers trying to balance patient care while trying to stay safe.

“I worked in an infusion clinic in graduate school where we administered a lot of medications that can be harmful to administer during pregnancy,” she said. “I watched a close co-worker navigate avoiding giving these medications before she had disclosed her pregnancy and how many unknowns there were about how working as a nurse could impact health during pregnancy.

“So, it wasn’t a surprise to me when I had some data from another study where nurses talked about pregnancy being a challenging time for their health, safety and work performance. Since I’m not an expert in women’s health, I was so glad to find Dr. Farland, who has that expertise, to collaborate with.” 

Farland, a reproductive epidemiologist, focuses much of her research on the causes and long-term health consequences associated with adverse reproductive and gynecologic outcomes. Most recently she worked with the Center for Firefighter Health Collaborative Research.

“I am excited to build off my previous research on the reproductive health of firefighters and apply it to another unique occupation – nursing,” she said. “Both nurses and firefighters have jobs that require them to care for their communities during vulnerable times. I hope this research will help us better understand what policies can better support nurses to do their job safely while ensuring their health and their children’s health.”