Post-ICU: A Look Into Gerontological Care

By Jessica Alvarez

Post-ICU: A Look Into Gerontological Care

By Jessica Alvarez
Registered Nurse and School of Nursing and Health Studies Postdoctoral Associate Maya Elias researches elderly ICU survivors.

Maya Elias is quite the academic trailblazer within her family. As the first  college graduate in her family, she is highly motivated to contribute to the field of geriatrics/gerontology research. She is funded by the National Institutes of Health as the Principal Investigator for her research study. She credits some of her inspiration to Professor Cindy Munro, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Maya emphasizes, “As a Dean with an incredibly busy schedule, she takes time to advise me, helps me with grant writing, and forces me to look ahead when I feel uninspired or visionless.” 

Maya’s specific interests lie at the intersection of research in critical care, sleep, and cognition to improve patient outcomes and quality of life among older ICU survivors. Her passion did not develop overnight but instead is rooted in her teenage years volunteering at a local nursing home. She is involved in clinical and translational research, using human and animal experimental models and taking part in long-term acute care and outpatient clinics. Her trajectory of research will contribute to the bridge between nursing science and clinical practice in the fields of geriatrics, critical care, and cognitive neuroscience.

Reflecting on her past experiences and where she is today, Maya states, “My clinical experience as a Registered Nurse fueled my passion for advancing research and care for our fragile elderly community, especially those mechanically ventilated. In fact, my clinical nursing, research and volunteer experiences have all focused-on areas of neuroscience and/or cognition throughout various transitions of care.” With an impressive skillset, Maya can bypass the language barrier, being bilingual, and open herself up to more opportunities to assist and learn from those who need it. She feels fortunate to work in a research environment where she is able to enroll elderly patients from diverse backgrounds.