Time to meet another Nerdy Girl! Introducing Dr. Shoshana Aronowitz, PhD, FNP-BC, MSN, RN.
Dr. Aronowitz is a researcher and clinician studying low-barrier substance use treatment, innovative delivery of harm reduction supplies, racial disparities in pain treatment in the context of the overdose crisis, the intersection of criminal justice and healthcare, and reproductive/sexual health.
Here at Dear Pandemic, Dr. Aronowitz is the lead on our (rather amazing) Instagram account. We have her to thank for the pithy, graphical & lovable Insta feed. We love her for it, and we know you do, too! 💗 If you don’t follow us there, take a look. It has a different flavor (and sometimes different content) compared to our Facebook and Twitter posts!
Prior to the pandemic, Dr. Aronowitz described herself as a nurse researcher focused on health equity, a clinician providing reproductive healthcare and substance use care, and a harm reduction community organizer.
And now? “I have embraced telehealth as a way to increase access to care for people who cannot see a clinician in person, whether due to COVID restrictions or transportation or geographic barriers.” She has several new studies going on about access to harm reduction resources and substance use care during the pandemic.
❇️ What experiences led to you get a PhD?
“While working as a nurse at a substance use disorder clinic in Vermont, I conducted a study focused on the experiences of patients who were arrested and incarcerated while in treatment. I learned that a Department of Corrections policy — that recently incarcerated individuals should receive a taper of their medications (methadone or buprenorphine) rather than abrupt discontinuation — was not being followed. Instead, people were suffering through severe withdrawal in prison and did not have access to any sort of treatment. After the publication of this study I was contacted by a reporter who wrote a story about access to medications for opioid use disorder in prisons, and eventually, thankfully, the policies have changed so that people can continue to receive their medications for opioid use disorder while incarcerated in Vermont. This sparked my interest in health policy, and I decided to pursue a PhD.” 📜
❇️ Why did you agree to be part of the Dear Pandemic team?
“I knew it would make me famous!! 👩🏻🎤 Just kidding. I care deeply about making health information accessible to all, and this project also sounded like a lot of fun.”
❇️ What has been the most frustrating thing about the pandemic, from your point of view?
“The pandemic has highlighted society’s ongoing failures to care for the most marginalized. One of the most basic public health messages has been 🏠 “stay home.” 🏠 But what about people who don’t have safe, stable housing to stay in?”
❇️ What are you most proud of?
“I think I am most proud of my willingness to accept new challenges and opportunities even if they scare the 💩 out of me.”
❇️ Who is your hero?
“I am very inspired by nurse congresswomen 👩🏿⚕️ Cori Bush and 👩🏿⚕️ Lauren Underwood.” Nursing school curriculum teaches us how to advocate for our patients, but doesn’t always teach future nurses about the roles they can have in policy and politics. I think it’s important for nurses to see the vital roles they can play as community organizers or policymakers at the state or national level.
❇️ What you miss most from before the pandemic:
“Visiting friends in other states and countries, not having a panic attack every time I have a sniffle or sore throat.” 🤒
❇️ What you don’t miss at all:
“Spending the majority of my time away from my house and overextending myself socially”
❇️ If you had a do-over on the last 10 months, what would you do differently? ⏪
Like Dr. Simanek last week, Dr. Aronowitz says she would have taken it a little more slow. 🐢 “I would tell myself that its ok–and also extremely important — to slow down with my work and focus on my emotional, mental, and physical health. Surviving a pandemic is a huge undertaking!”
❇️ Superpower 🦸♀️:
“I can eat large amounts of chocolate before bed and still fall asleep just fine.” 🍫🍫🍫🍫 Ironically, the chocolate bar emoji looks kinda like a bed. Maybe Dr. Aronowitz and whoever makes emojis know something we don’t?
❇️ How do you manage stress?
“I’m not always great at this, to be honest! I’m trying to get better about making space for activities like taking walks throughout the day. I also love fiber arts, 🧶🧵 especially sewing and weaving, but I’m such a perfectionist that sometimes even my hobbies stress me out!” 🤦♀️
❇️ What you’re looking forward to this year:
“Watching the Dear Pandemic community continue to grow”
❇️ Fun fact: “Two summers ago, I survived a hot air balloon crash landing disturbingly close to a highway in New Mexico. Oh, pre-pandemic life!” 🎈😱
Dr. Aronowitz is a National Clinicians Scholar Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine & School of Nursing. There, she studies the intersections of the overdose crisis and COVID, health effects of incarceration and the carceral system, and reproductive health. She is also a member of a grassroots harm reduction organization called SOL Collective and is on the collective’s naloxone-by-mail team. In partnership with NEXT Distro and Philadelphia Department of Public Health, they provide free naloxone by mail to anyone in Philadelphia who needs it.
Dr. Aronowitz earned a B.A. in Religious Studies at McGill University, a Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Vermont, and her PhD in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, the Journal of School Nursing, the Journal of Advanced Nursing, and the Journal of Correctional Health.
Dr. Aronowitz has also published two opinion pieces in The Hill in the last week! To battle the opioid crisis, arm more healthcare providers and Why school nurses are vital to ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
Find her on Twitter @ShoshiAronowitz