Yashika Sharma, PhD ’23

PhD Student Profile: Yashika Sharma

PhD '23

I encourage all nurses to consider a career in research or collaborate with nurse scientists because we do amazing work!


Please tell us a bit about yourself; where are you from, and what do you like to do in your spare time? 

I am an international student. I was born in India and raised in multiple countries around the world. I came to the United States in 2014 to pursue my undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester. The three things I love to do in my spare time are reading books, eating food, and exploring New York City.  


Why did you decide to pursue nursing, and why did you choose Columbia? 

I decided to pursue nursing because I saw the difference nurses made both in and outside hospital settings. Nursing is my second degree. My undergraduate degree is in chemistry and, although I enjoyed studying chemistry, I wanted a profession that would allow me to advocate for vulnerable patients and advance health equity. I chose to do my PhD at Columbia Nursing because of my primary mentor, Dr. Billy Caceres. I was impressed by his work and willingness to help me understand the role of a nurse scientist. Columbia Nursing is also a leader in LGBTQ+ health and I wanted to surround myself with researchers who were passionate about reducing health disparities among stigmatized populations.   


What are you passionate about, and how has being a student at Columbia Nursing allowed you to follow that passion? 

I am passionate about health equity and advocating for historically marginalized populations like racial and ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ communities. As an international student from India, I am committed to conducting rigorous research that advances global health equity for minority populations and promotes cultural humility in research. The Center for Sexual and Gender Minority Health Research (CSGMHR) at Columbia Nursing is a leader in training researchers that are committed to improving the health of LGBTQ+ individuals. I have been able to follow my passion due to the exceptional resources that have been available to me at CSGMHR. I am grateful that I am receiving training in LGBTQ+ health inequities from established and emerging leaders in the field.  


Could you describe your PhD research? 

My PhD research focuses on social determinants of health and cardiovascular health among LGBTQ+ adults. There is extensive research showing that LGBTQ+ adults are at higher risk of poor health outcomes compared to the general population. I hope my work will help reduce the health disparities experienced by this population.  


Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Columbia Nursing? 

I have been very fortunate to have a supportive and uplifting PhD cohort. I have created countless memories with them! The pandemic started at the beginning of our PhD program and the experience of navigating the pandemic while trying to start a PhD program really brought us together. Another core memory of my time at Columbia Nursing is attending my first American Heart Association conference. It was a great opportunity to meet amazing researchers and present my work as a proud nurse scientist. A special shoutout to my mentor Dr. Caceres who guided me throughout the conference.   


What are your next steps after graduation? 

I am excited to share that I will be staying at Columbia Nursing after graduation. I will be training as a postdoctoral research fellow under Dr. Ruth Masterson Creber. I look forward to developing more research skills that will help me continue my work in health equity.  


Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

I would like to thank my mentors Drs. Billy Caceres and Tonda Hughes. They have been strong pillars of support for me throughout this difficult but rewarding process. I am grateful for the time and effort they have put into mentoring me. I encourage all nurses to consider a career in research or collaborate with nurse scientists because we do amazing work! 


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