SUNRISE: Filipino Student, Professor Study Effects of Typhoon on Mothers, Children
By Catherine Duncan
Before he and his family immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 2012, Bryan Ralloma helped care for his grandfather who had Parkinson’s disease.
“I helped feed him, bathe him, and played the piano for him. I don’t think I am a very good piano player, but he thought I was the best,” Ralloma said. “Although I had been a dental student back home, the experience with my grandfather helped me to see that I wanted to go into a profession where I could offer holistic health care. I decided to pursue a career in nursing so I could alleviate the suffering of those who are sick.”
After taking prerequisite courses at San Antonio College, Ralloma transferred to the UT Health Science Center San Antonio to attain his Bachelor of Science in Nursing. M. Danet Lapiz Bluhm, Ph.D., RN, associate professor, met Ralloma just days after he arrived in San Antonio. “It was wonderful seeing a Filipino who has her Ph.D. and is teaching at a major university. She is a lifelong learner who earned her degrees on four continents,” Ralloma said. “You don’t see a role model like that every day.”
Dr. Bluhm helped Ralloma navigate nursing school and told him about the SUNRISE program at the School of Nursing. After being accepted as a SUNRISE undergraduate researcher, Ralloma began working with Dr. Bluhm studying the health consequences of prenatal maternal stress following exposure to a natural disaster.
“In 2013, the northern part of the island of Cebu, where Bryan is from, was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. We speak the same dialect—Visayan—as the residents, and we thought we could give back to our homeland by learning from women who were pregnant during Haiyan,”
Dr. Bluhm said they are interested in determining the psychological and physical effects on mothers who were pregnant and the children delivered after the typhoon. “We are partnering with nursing schools in the Philippines.
They are sending faculty and staff to interview mothers to determine their health issues and their offsprings’ developmental progress,” she added.
By gathering this data, this mentor-mentee team wants to create evidence-based recommendations. “We must figure out the types of support these women need after a natural disaster. Our research can be used to inform community-based interventions to promote resilience when similar devastating disasters occur in the future,” Ralloma said.