I received a BSN from Auburn University in 1986 and a MSN from the University of South Alabama in 1993. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences studying quality of life of children post cardiac transplantation. I received an Ira L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Nursing Research and have received additional research funding for the Society of Pediatric Nurses and Gamma Xi chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. I am very grateful for the NEF scholarship to support my final year of doctoral study.
When I first entered college in the early 1980's, I knew that I wanted a career that allowed me to serve others and that I loved working with children. Though it took a few years, I decided that nursing was the best means for me to work with and serve children. At the time, I did not realize how many opportunities there were for specialty practice in pediatric nursing. When I learned of those opportunities, I knew that pediatric cardiac nursing was the place for me.
My early years of clinical practice coincided with the early days of pediatric heart transplant and the development of surgical options for very complicated heart problems. Because survival rates were poor, many infants and children were sent home to die. Twenty years later, there are multiple options for such children and we expect them to not only to survive, but also to thrive. I want to be part of helping them thrive. My desire and sense of responsibility for helping children with heart disease enjoy the most full, productive lives possible stems from the past experience of caring for grieving families of children with inoperable (at the time) heart disease, recognition of the great responsibility that accompanies advances in technology, the hopes and dreams of parents, and most of all, love for the children.
My long-term plans include a career in nursing education and research. I plan to seek a dual appointment in a college of nursing and a major children's hospital. This is crucial for me professionally for a number of reasons including maintaining clinical expertise in pediatric cardiac care, ensuring clinical relevance of my research, and working to improve the care and lives of children after heart transplantation through research. Further, I believe that such a dual appointment will provide the best opportunity to serve the nursing profession by improving the care of chronically ill children through research, mentoring clinicians as they conduct research, helping clinicians apply research findings to practice, serving as a role model for clinicians and students alike, and teaching students to provide compassionate and quality evidence-based care.