While training as a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner at Veterans Administration Hospitals in California, Dr. Robert Pope observed that a large number of older veterans had histories and diagnoses of substance use disorders. Based on his clinical observations and his intellectual curiosity, he developed an interest in understanding the basic social processes surrounding illicit drug use among older African American men. As a SAMHSA Fellow, he continued to deepen his knowledge and clinical acumen about the phenomenon. He successfully completed the requirements for the doctoral degree at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on December 15, 2009. His dissertation, "Older African Americans and Illicit Drug Use: A Qualitative Study," is available online at Proquest Dissertations and Theses if you have access via your school to the Proquest Dissertations and Theses data base.
Dr. Pope plans a career that continues to address his commitment to providing care to underserved older adult populations with substance abuse disorders. In order to better serve this population, Dr. Pope has accepted a one-year SAMHSA MFP Post-doctoral fellowship at UCSF where his research will focus on Perceived Control and Psychosocial/Physiological Functioning in Substance Abusing Older African Americans. He has extensive experience working in family centered patient care, acute, long term, and community-based settings. For years he has worked with culturally diverse groups, and individuals and families with co-occurring disorders such as post traumatic stress syndrome and substance abuse conditions. His expertise in mental health and substance abuse disorders along with his consumer-focused approach to diagnoses and treatment is implemented through numerous volunteer and employer-based services that he has provided over the years. His theoretical orientation to mental health and substance abuse is also undergirded with the framework of recovery and shared decision making between consumer and provider.
Dr. Pope is developing an international reputation in his area of expertise. He has presented his research findings on social determinants of substance abuse in older African Americans at a variety of important research and clinical conferences across the global community. In South Africa, he presented a refereed paper on substance abuse among urban older men during the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Conference. In Japan, he was sought after among the ICN program participants for more information about communicating with older people who have substance abuse and mental health problems that overlap and create complex signs and symptoms that must be disentangled before adequate treatment can be consumer driven, implemented, and evaluated. Additionally, Dr. Pope has co-lead symposiums at the Gerontological Society of America’s Scientific Meetings and presented his research findings at the Annual Western Institute of Nursing Conferences and the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurses (NCEMNA) Conferences. Dr. Pope is also the first author of an article, "The Social Determinants of Substance Abuse in African American Baby Boomers: Effects of Family, Media Images, and Environment," in the July 2010 issue (Vol. 21, No. 3) of the Journal of Transcultural Nursing. Moreover, he was recently appointed to serve on the Board of Directors of Mental Health America (MHA), in Alexandria, VA. MHA is the "nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans live mentally-healthier lives."
Dr. Pope is a former recipient of the John A. Hartford Scholarship Award, a member of the National Black Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and other professional organizations.