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School of Public Health
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School of Public Health

Meet John S. Palatucci, Rutgers School of Public Health Class of 2024

John S. Palatucci, PhD, MPA, CPH (he/him/his), Class of 2024, earned his PhD this past October in public health with a concentration in health systems and policy through the Department of Health Behavior, Society and Policy.

His research examines how policy affects the health and wellbeing of persons with complex needs, inspired by his own experiences with the healthcare system.

We sat down with Palatucci to learn more about his journey.


Various photos.

How did you become interested in public health?

In 2012, I volunteered at the Salvation Army Montclair Citadel, which had a drop-in program for persons who were unhoused and a day program for young adults with developmental disabilities. Receiving short-term disability payments myself at the time, I was moved to better understand the challenges affecting myself and the people that I worked with.

Can you tell us about some of the research you’ve done while working at the Rutgers School of Public Health?

I supported a multi-year study of the New Jersey Children’s System of Care’s “Promising Path to Success” initiative, which included an analysis of efforts to reduce seclusion and restraint use in youth behavioral health out of home treatment settings. As someone who had received seclusion and restraint protocols as a patient, it was fascinating to be able to learn more about the providers' perspectives on these practices and to study the effect of the reduction of such techniques on health outcomes and health care utilization. You can find the study here.

Do you have any advice for current students or those looking to get a PhD?

Over the past 12 years, my Christian faith, love from my wife Nachelle and our families, evidence-based behavioral health care, and my sense of purpose have all been instrumental to navigating the challenges associated with my recovery, graduate school, a pandemic, and the inevitable failures that come with growth.

Along the way, I learned to prioritize rest, reflection, and recreation, which unlocked a deep well of creativity and productivity in my professional work. As my dissertation chair, Dr. Alan Monheit once quipped, “John, there are diminishing marginal returns from effort, so go play some basketball this weekend.”

John and his wife, Nachelle, live in New York City with their dog, "Jersey," who they adopted in 2018 through the Animal Care Centers of NYC.