Twenty-four years ago, when I was 13 years old, I had a bilateral bunionectomy surgery on my feet at Children's of Alabama. Although the surgery was minor, uneventful, and after six weeks I was walking on my own without crutches, it impacted my life in ways I never would have dreamed.
The care I received at Children's solidified my decision to become a nurse. A few years later, I moved from Montgomery to Birmingham to attend Samford University's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. While at Samford, I had the opportunity to do some of my clinical rotations at Children's. After working on 4-Tower with the Nurse Manager, Keith Higgins, for my leadership preceptorship – he offered me a job. A few months after graduation in 1997, I started my nursing career on 4-Tower with the very special pediatric oncology patients. It was a life changing experience in many ways. I then worked in the Hematology/Oncology clinic while in school at UAB to become a Nurse Practitioner. After graduating, I moved to Michigan where I worked for 10 years as a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse Practitioner. I recently graduated from UAB again, this time with my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP). I moved to Georgia last fall to take the position of Assistant Professor of Nursing at the College of Coastal Georgia, where I am developing and teaching the Pediatric class and clinicals.
From being a patient and having my decision to become a nurse solidified, working at Children's with pediatric hematology/oncology for more than five years, working with Camp Smile-A-Mile (a camp for children with cancer and their families) for six years, becoming a Nurse Practitioner, helping to develop a horseback riding camp in Mich. for children with cancer and their families, leading a team to develop a Pediatric Palliative Care program and Pediatric Hospice in Lansing, Mich., to teaching future nurses – it has all come full circle. I recently watched my first group of students graduate last weekend, and am now receiving calls from them as they get jobs (two of which are in Pediatric ICUs in Georgia).
It's all very exciting. I just wanted to pass on a message to Children’s that this organization had a big hand in furthering my development and now the development of many excellent new nurses - it just keeps carrying on! Thank you Children’s of Alabama!