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Theresa Swift-Scanlan explores individualized patient care
Theresa Swift-Scanlan explores individualized patient care

When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, their treatment is usually based on characteristics of the general population of women fighting this disease. “They’re making life-changing decisions based on probabilities, and those probabilities are based on population predictors,” said Theresa Swift-Scanlan, Ph.D., RN, associate professor at the School of Nursing. Swift-Scanlan intends to change that. “I want to explore how those decisions could be based on their individual risk factors; the context of their environment,” she said.

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Angie Smith strives to empower patients to self-manage their health
Angie Smith strives to empower patients to self-manage their health

Angie Smith, AGACNP-BC (B.S.‘13/N; M.S.‘15/N), made frequent visits to the hospital as a little girl because her mother was very ill. At a young age she realized she wanted to be a nurse. Smith told her Mom, “I will take care of you.” Originally from New York, Smith moved to Puerto Rico with her family when she was three years old. Later she joined the military, which led her to move to Virginia. Her time in the Marine Corps taking care of injured Marines inspired Smith to seek a degree in biomedical engineering from VCU. Back then she wanted to help improve prosthetics for injured veterans. But her goals soon changed. “I realized that instead of working in a lab, I wanted to be with patients and provide compassionate medical care,” said Smith, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student at the VCU School of Nursing.

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Online programs provide opportunities for working nurses
Online programs provide opportunities for working nurses

After working three back-to-back night shifts from Saturday evening until Tuesday morning every week, Carrie Walker usually sets her alarm for 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. “I treat myself to a manicure to make myself get out of bed,” the 28-year-old said. As the night-shift nursing administrative coordinator at Chippenham Hospital, Walker is on her feet from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. rounding on all of the hospital’s units, troubleshooting hospitalwide issues and providing bed assignments for patients who arrive at night. She is often exhausted by Tuesday morning, but after a few hours of sleep and a manicure, she shifts roles from full-time nurse to part-time student. In September, Walker enrolled in the Virginia Commonwealth University Master of Science Program with a Concentration in Nursing and Administration and Leadership. This fall, the graduate degree switched to an online format, joining a growing body of programs that VCU School of Nursing offers online.

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Lindsay Kunik provides hope to seriously ill pediatric patients with Butterfly Kisses Care Baskets
Lindsay Kunik provides hope to seriously ill pediatric patients with Butterfly Kisses Care Baskets

Lindsay Kunik was inspired to start the nonprofit Butterfly Kisses Care Baskets after meeting an 8-year-old pediatric patient named Ellie. The nonprofit, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, aims to support children with cancer and other serious illnesses by providing care baskets, packages and other supportive measures to families. The organization also aims to raise awareness of childhood cancer and other underfunded pediatric diseases.

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NIH-funded study explores effect of yoga on depression during pregnancy
NIH-funded study explores effect of yoga on depression during pregnancy

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a grant to the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing for a pilot study that will examine how motivational interviewing and prenatal yoga might reduce or prevent depression during and after pregnancy. Patricia Kinser, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Health Nursing, received the two-year, $456,579 grant for her project “Self-Management of Chronic Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy.” “Nearly 20 percent of pregnant women experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy and 13 percent experience chronic, recurrent symptoms,” said Kinser, whose research focuses on stress and depression in women and their families.

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Christina Wilson works to improve body image in women with gynecologic cancer
Christina Wilson works to improve body image in women with gynecologic cancer

Christina Wilson, RN, WHNP-BC (M.S.'13), realized she wanted to be a nurse while attending Nottoway High School in Crewe, Virginia after recalling a health scare she experienced at the age of nine. She spent about 14 hours in a hospital to have cyst removal surgery. "Doctors initially thought it was cancer," Wilson said, pointing to a scar just below her neck. "They had to remove it because it would have blocked my airway." The entire experience prompted the thought of nursing as a career. "I was thinking about the way the nurses treated me and my family," she said. "I wanted to make that kind of impact on patients as well." Since then, Wilson, a Ph.D. student at the VCU School of Nursing, has spent her nursing career trying to make a difference in the lives of women.

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