PHOTO: Ukamaka Oruche

Ukamaka Oruche

"After obtaining my master's degree in child psychiatric-mental health nursing, I practiced for eight years before deciding to return for a PhD. In my work as a clinical nurse specialist with children and adolescents with serious emotional and behavioral disturbance, I was bothered by the fact that the majority of them remained in treatment for so long. Even those who left returned multiple times. They were not meeting educational milestones, had very poor social skills, and believed that their situation would not improve. I wanted to learn how to help these young people transition successfully into independent and productive young adults. This was my big push to return to school for a doctorate. My dissertation is titled "Predictors of Treatment Response for "Adolescents with Serious Emotional disturbance". I am a great believer in working with the strengths that these patients may have to address presenting needs."

Ukamaka Oruche is a graduate of Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis Indiana: BSN 1995, and MSN 1999. She has ANCC board certification in child/adolescent mental health nursing with prescriptive privilege. It has been her pleasure to serve patients in a large safety net hospital with a large community mental health center. She has worn multiple hats as a direct clinical care provider and an administrator. In particular, she oversaw the development and implementation of mental health screenings at a juvenile detention center and primary care settings. These programs were instrumental in integrating behavioral and medical care, highlighting the need for preventative mental health care, and increasing access while reducing the stigma of mental illness in the associated communities.

Ukamaka has received many awards; most recent ones are the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation-AstraZeneca Diversity Scholarship Award and the NINR- Institutional National Research Service Award. She also serves as a board member of the Choices Technical Assistance Advisory Board (charged with development and implementation of Systems of Care in Mental Health Services for Youths in Indiana State). She is a member of sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, International Society of Psychiatric Nurses, and the Midwest Nursing Research Society. Ukamaka conducts medical missions abroad as her way of making a difference.

"I am very fortunate to have great mentors who are also nurses. They have inspired both my professional and personal growth. Most of all, they have taught me to give unconditionally. I owe them so much and strive to honor them by mentoring other students and peers who aspire to obtain masters or doctoral degrees. Most importantly, I owe my successes to my family. My overall career goals are to (1) develop and maintain an interdisciplinary program of research focused on adolescents who have serious emotional disturbance, including development of interventions and testing of interventions' effectiveness in improving and sustaining mental health outcomes; and (2) obtain a position as a faculty member in a research-intensive academic environment."

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