MarySue V. Heilemann, PhD, RN, FAAN is a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and an Associate Director of the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program. Dr. Heilemann has pioneered the use of transmedia in health interventions related to mental health and was a delegate to the United Nations-Commission on the Status of Women in 2018 where she spoke on the topic. Transmedia involves the use of storytelling over multiple digital platforms accessible on smart phones, tablets, or computers via the Internet. Dr. Heilemann’s current work involves Hollywood quality, data-informed, story-based, character-driven transmedia interventions to reduce symptoms and increase help seeking among Latinas struggling with depression and/or anxiety. As an expert in Grounded Theory methodology informed by Constructivism and Pragmatism, she has mentored graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and young faculty in qualitative research at UCLA and internationally.  She is also devoted to scholarship to improve the accuracy of portrayals of nurses in film and television through collaboration, consulting, and speaking. She was chosen to give the June 2015 National Institute of Nursing Research Director’s Lecture entitled, “From the Silver Screen to the Web: Media Portrayals of Nursing” and has led national symposiums in both 2011 and 2012 at UCLA focused on Media Representations of Nurses, bringing together over 300 filmmakers, nurses, administrators, producers, journalists, screen writers, directors, activists, faculty, and students. She was the Guest Editor for a special volume of the official journal of the American Academy of Nursing (Nursing Outlook) that featured original scholarship created for the 2011 Symposium.

Faculty Research and Clinical Expertise

Fueled by qualitative input from participants, and in collaboration with community partners, Dr. Heilemann integrates issues of motivation, resilience, intergenerational cultural expectations, social justice, and gender issues in her work. Based on her three-fold area of expertise (media-based interventions, methodologically-driven qualitative research, and mental health), Dr. Heilemann is actively refining a new model for nursing science that features transmedia portrayals of nurses as part of powerful and promising interventions with patients, the public, and nursing professionals. Her focus has been on symptom management, motivation to seek help and engage in mental health care, and the enhancement of resilience among Latinas in the U.S.


University of Wisconsin, Madison, BS, 1982, Nursing

University of California, San Francisco, MS, 1991, Nursing

University of California, San Francisco, PhD, 1996, Nursing

University of California, San Francisco Post Doc, 1998, Nursing

Selected Publications

Escobar, C. & Heilemann, M. V. (2019). Reimagining nurses on screen: How Marvel’s Claire Temple and BBC’s Call the Midwife get it right. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 24(1), manuscript 2. doi:10.3912/OJIN.

Heilemann, M.V., Martinez, A., & Soderlund, P.D. (2018). A mental health storytelling intervention using transmedia to engage Latinas: Grounded Theory analysis of participants' perceptions of the story's main character. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(5):e10028. doi: 10.2196/10028. PubMed PMID: 29720357; PMCID: PMC5956154.

Heilemann, M.V., Soderlund, P.D., Kehoe, P., & Brecht, M.L. (2017). A transmedia storytelling intervention with interactive elements to benefit Latinas' mental health: Feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy. Journal of Medical Internet Research-Mental Health, 4(4):e47. doi: 10.2196/mental.8571. PubMed PMID: 29051135; PMCID: PMC5668652.

Heilemann, M.V., Pieters, H.C., & Dornig, K. (2016).  Reflections of low income, second generation Latinas about experiences in depression therapy.  Qualitative Health Research, 26(10):1351-65. doi: 10.1177/1049732315624411. PMID: 26825479.

Brauer, E.R., Pieters, H.C., Ganz, P.A., Landier, W., Pavlish, C., & Heilemann, M.V. (2017).  “From snail mode to rocket ship mode": Adolescents and young adults' experiences of returning to work and school after hematopoietic cell transplantation. Journal of Adolescent Young Adult Oncology, doi: 10.1089/jayao.2017.0025. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID:28594579.

Albarran, C., Heilemann, M.V., & Koniak-Griffin, D. (2014).  Promotoras as facilitators of change: Latinas’ perspectives after participating in a lifestyle behaviour intervention program.  Journal of Advanced Nursing.  Oct; 70 (10): 2303-13. doi 10.1111/jan.12383.  Epub 2014 Mar16.

Heilemann, M.V., Pieters, H.C., & Dornig, K. (2016).  Reflections of low income, second generation Latinas about experiences in depression therapy.  Qualitative Health Research, 26(10):1351-65. doi: 10.1177/1049732315624411. PMID: 26825479.

Heilemann, M. V. (2012). Media images and screen representations of nurses. Nursing Outlook, 60(5 Suppl):S1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2012.04.003. Epub 2012 Jun 15. PMID: 22705165.

Heilemann, M.V., Brown, T., & Deutchman, L. (2012). Making change from the inside out. Nursing Outlook, 60(5 Suppl):S47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2012.06.017. PMID: 23036795.

Heilemann, M.V., Choudhury, S.M., Kury, F.S., Lee, K.A. (2012). Factors associated with sleep disturbance in women of Mexican descent. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68 (10), 2256-2266, doi: 10.1111/j.1365- 2648.2011.05918.x. [Epub ahead of print, Jan 4].

Heilemann, M.V., Pieters, H.C., Kehoe, P., & Yang, Q. (2011). Schema therapy, motivational interviewing, and collaborative-mapping as treatment for depression among low income, second generation Latinas. Journal of Behavioral Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 42(4):473-80. Epub 2011 May 7.

Book Chapter

Heilemann, M. V. & Albarran, C. (2017). The Grounded Theory Method (book chapter name in Italian: Il metodo della Grounded Theory). In L. Mortati and L. Zannini (Eds.), Metodologia della ricerca qualitativa in ambito sanitario. Rome: Carocci Editore.