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Michael Relf, Ph.D.


Dr. Relf is currently an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Professional Nursing. A man of significant integrity and boundless energy, he is a role model not only to his students but also to his peers.

Born in South Dakota and the youngest of three siblings, Professor Relf became interested in the Washington, D.C., area while completing a summer internship in the Recovery Room at Duke University Medical Center. Using the weekends to travel and sight-see, he noticed many professional and personal opportunities in the District of Columbia. After graduation from South Dakota University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a minor in Chemistry, Dr. Relf accepted a position in the Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery Unit at Georgetown University Medical Center. It was at Georgetown that he launched an 11-year career in critical care nursing practice, education and administration, marked by significant accomplishments such as nurse manager for three complex critical care units at Arlington Hospital in Virginia.

Through his critical care experience, Professor Relf saw young men and women die from AIDS-related complications. Through his Ph.D. studies in nursing at Johns Hopkins University, he shifted his focus from acute/critical care to the community, which allowed him to expand his interest in and commitment to nursing care of the patient with HIV/AIDS, with a focus on prevention. Transitioning from critical care, he accepted the position of Associate Medical Administrator/Director of Nursing and Clinical Support Services at Whitman Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., an organization in which he continues to volunteer.

As a researcher, Dr. Relf's primary focus is HIV/AIDS. His work examines factors influencing retention in HIV-oriented primary medical care as well as methods to incorporate HIV/STD prevention into primary care. He also studies the relationship between domestic violence/battering and HIV-risk behaviors among gay/bisexual men, including a study that showed urban gay men are as likely to be battered as heterosexual women. This funded study was the first of its kind and appeared in the American Journal of Public Health (December 2002). In 2003, Dr. Relf was the recipient of the competitive Frank Lamendola Achievement Award for Nursing Leadership in HIV Care.

Making his home in Washington, D.C., Dr. Relf enjoys cooking and collecting antiques, and is most proud of his orchid collection -- over 15 orchids that have prospered and re-bloomed under his care. Michael enjoys travel and has journeyed to Hawaii, Europe and Africa. He relaxes by listening to classical music.

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