“What really attracted me to the BS to PhD program at UConn was the opportunity to individualize my program of study and participate in interdisciplinary faculty research.”
I was extremely fortunate to have an employer that valued continuing education and permitted me to take advantage of opportunities to study community and public health nursing in Haiti, Cuba, and at local organizations in Connecticut.
Additionally, the chance to participate in faculty research and academic-community partnership projects helped me appreciate the many years and sometimes decades of work that lead to changes within a community or discipline.
One example was the opportunity I had to work with Dr. Neafsey during a couple phases of her program of research focused on improving medication management and safety of community-dwelling older adults.
Additionally, I completed my research residency with faculty at the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy working on a telehealth project for community organizations serving the state’s population living with HIV/AIDS.
Additional academic-community partnership projects that I was involved with included the School of Nursing’s workforce readiness programs at Windham and Hartford Public High Schools and UConn’s interdisciplinary Urban Service Track for health professions students.
Since graduation, I have completed postdoctoral fellowships in gerontological nursing and health services research at the University of Pennsylvania, and transitioned to a tenure-track faculty position in the School of Nursing at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
At Rutgers, I teach in the PhD program and have a joint appointment in the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research where I direct the Community Health and Aging Outcomes Laboratory.
My lab’s research focuses on demonstrating the value of home healthcare for older adults living with complex illness including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. My research has been funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Institutes of Health, and the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation.
As a triple graduate of UConn School of Nursing I have been well prepared at each stage of my career, from working as a visiting nurse to leading an interdisciplinary research team on projects to improve health policy and care of a rapidly aging and diverse population.
Amazing opportunities can come about when you least expect them. This is your time to learn and grow in very deep ways. Embrace it by reaching outside of your comfort zone to learn about things that may not have been available to you before.
Initially, I was attracted to the UConn Nursing PhD program because I was familiar with many of the faculty from my master’s work. I had previously earned an MS degree at UConn, so I was already comfortable with the School of Nursing, and believed that there were nursing faculty I could match with my own research interests.
Before beginning the UConn Nursing PhD program I held several different nursing roles.
At first, I worked as a neonatal intensive care staff nurse, before transitioning into a nurse manager position, followed by a stint in industry. Each of these experiences provided me with incredible growth opportunities and the ability to see healthcare from different perspectives.
Eventually, I wanted to earn a doctoral degree after realizing how removed I’d become from direct patient care.
Because I wanted my program of research to be strongly connected to clinical issues, I returned to bedside nursing to reconnect with patients, families, and the research questions of the bedside nurse. At that point, I enrolled in the PhD program while again working as a neonatal intensive care staff nurse.
Following graduation from the UConn Nursing PhD program, I accepted a postdoctoral scholar position at the University of South Florida.
My research interests include incorporating bench science into my clinical questions. This postdoc opportunity afforded me the ability to continue to learn about how to conduct research, train in different basic science research methods, and have the time to work on my publication productivity.
My postdoc mentor generously connected me with several scientists in her network, which provided additional growth opportunities.
Collectively, my doctoral and postdoctoral training provided me with the strong foundation I needed to begin an independent role as tenure track faculty at the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing.
For me, the most impactful aspects of the UConn Nursing PhD program were the faculty research match and emphasis on national nursing research trends. My dissertation research focused on the biobehavioral effects for preterm infants of stress exposure during NICU care.
The biological aspect of the investigation focused on genetic variation. My major advisor had expertise in neonatal nursing and my other faculty advisor and mentor was Dr. Erin Young, who provided expertise in genetics.
This blend of expertise was critical to my training and dissertation work, as well as my postdoctoral opportunity.
During my doctoral training, the UConn nursing faculty continually reinforced the national research trends to help students understand how to be competitive for funding and in the job market. This aspect of my training, which was provided early on in the program, was invaluable.
For anyone considering the UConn Nursing PhD program, stay open to the unplanned and take chances!
Amazing opportunities can come about when you least expect them. This is your time to learn and grow in very deep ways.
Embrace it by reaching outside of your comfort zone to learn about things that may not have been available to you before.
Individual results may vary.