PHOTO: Paula Tucker

Paula Tucker

Paula Tucker, DNP, FNP-BC, ENP-C, FAANP, is the recipient of the inaugural Nurses Educational Funds/Johnson & Johnson 2023 Health Equity Scholarship. Paula obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University, a Master of Science degree in Nursing with specialty training in Family and Emergency Nurse Practitioner from Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Vanderbilt University. While pursuing her doctorate of nursing practice degree, Paula developed an interest in quality improvement and patient safety and decided to continue her education by completing a post-doctoral advanced fellowship as a Veterans Affairs Quality Scholar Fellow in Atlanta, Georgia.

Paula is currently a Clinical Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Emergency Nurse Practitioner Specialty Program at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Along with her teaching responsibilities, Paula maintains her clinical practice as an emergency nurse practitioner at a level 1 trauma center in Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, Paula has held leadership positions within professional nursing organizations. Paula is Chair and member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners (AAENP), which affords her the opportunity to lead national policy guidelines for emergency nurse practitioner education, regulation, and practice.

At a young age, Paula possessed a desire to care for those in need as well as compassion and empathy for vulnerable populations. This desire motivated Paula to become a nurse. Paula's clinical experiences exposed her to barriers within the healthcare system, which prompted her to develop strategies for improving patient outcomes. Paula's earliest publications and projects centered on the implementation of gait speed as a screening tool for identifying older emergency department adults with unique assessment needs who may be at risk for adverse events and functional decline. As a VA Quality Scholar Fellow, Paula successfully collaborated and implemented a quality improvement initiative focusing on frailty screening, thereby facilitating preoperative models of care for patients at risk for poor surgical outcomes. Paula continues to advance her scholarship by fostering interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues in emergency medicine research. Paula is a co-investigator and implementation scientist in a study aimed at facilitating the recovery of pediatric patients with mild traumatic brain injury. Paula's capacity to effectively translate research into practice, fueled her desire and tenacity to become a nurse scientist. Paula is a 3rd year Ph.D. student at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Her research focuses on predictors of functional recovery among patients with traumatic brain injury.

Paula hopes to develop a sustainable program of research addressing clinical and research gaps around traumatic brain injury. Paula believes that her experiences in research, clinical practice, education, and leadership will allow her to make a significant contribution to the nursing profession and healthcare industry by improving patient outcomes, decreasing costs, and enhancing experiences for patients and clinicians. As a Nurses Educational Funds and Johnson and Johnson Health Equity Scholar, Paula is committed to joining this distinguished group of scholars on this dynamic path to advancing the nursing profession.

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