We have partnered with the MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA COLLEGE OF NURSING to highlight some of the Lowcountry’s top nurses. HealthLinks Charleston wants to recognize nurses as the backbone of our medical community and thank them for all their efforts!
BSN, RN, CHPN
Morgan McCall, the clinical coordinator for the palliative care program of LTC Health Solutions, had no idea she wanted to be a nurse when she was in college at Charleston Southern University, let alone to eventually work in hospice and palliative care.
“I was an undeclared major,” she said. “After two years of college, I went to my career advisor, and all I knew was that I wanted to help people, so I gave nursing a try.”
She felt it was a calling when she was one of 40 accepted into the program out of 120 who applied. Working in hospice also came to her as a “sign.” A family member of hers was battling a disease, and, on the morning that the family member passed, she got a call from Agape Hospice asking if she would like to interview with them. After working there for three years, she transitioned to palliative care.
“I now work with patients earlier in their disease process,” she said. “There are no words to describe the countless interactions I have had over the past five years. I am grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to work with each and every one.”
SUSAN D. NEWMAN
PHD, RN, CRRN
It was serendipitous for Dr. Susan D. Newman to end up in the specialty of rehabilitation as a nurse.
“When I graduated, hospital positions were scarce,” she said. “There was an opening at the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital, so I applied and here I am.”
Newman grew to love working in rehabilitation, especially working with people who had spinal cord injuries.
“The whole focus of our practice is to help people regain their maximum independence after a disabling health event or injury so they can continue to live full and productive lives,” she said.
Currently, Newman is an associate professor in the PhD program at MUSC’s College of Nursing. She focuses her research on developing interventions to optimize the health and independence of people with spinal cord injuries.
Newman advised new nurses to “be curious.” She said, “Understand why we do the things we do as nurses. Seek out the evidence that informs our practice. This is what led me into a career in research – I wanted to understand what interventions would best help people with spinal cord injury.”
ANNEMARIE SIPKES DONATO
DNP, APRN, FNP-BC
As a family nurse practitioner with LTC Health Solutions and Agape Hospice, Annemarie Sipkes Donato really gets to know her patients personally, and that is her favorite part of being a nurse.
“Compassionate care of patients and their families in their home is very rewarding to me,” she said.
Donato just returned to working fulltime as a nurse after teaching at MUSC for 20 years.
“I always taught my students to treat their patients as they would want to be treated,” she said. “I also always encouraged them to really study where they wanted to work as a nurse. There are many different areas and so many new opportunities to seek.”
She also said that being open-minded about all the different areas of nursing will lead to success in the specialty they choose.
For Donato, hospice was definitely the specialty that became her passion.
“Having the opportunity to see patients in their homes inspires me to give the best care possible so that patients and their families have the resources available to them to live the best quality of life,” she said.
BERRY S. ANDERSON
PHD, RN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Berry S. Anderson realized his passion for psychiatric nursing during his last semester of nursing school. A mentor led him down the path of psychiatry, and he began his career as a staff nurse over 20 years ago at the Institute of Psychiatry at MUSC. He now teaches nursing at MUSC and works as a research nurse manager in the Brain Stimulation Laboratory.
“Now, I get to combine my passion for teaching psychiatric nursing with my passion for research,” he said.
Anderson’s research focuses on the use of brain stimulation technologies to understand brain function and treat psychiatric disorders. He has conducted many professional brain stimulation presentations, most notably at the International Society of Neurostimulation and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
Anderson’s advice to anyone thinking of becoming a nurse is, “Take a chance and work outside of your comfort zone. Don’t follow the herd – be yourself.”
LTC HEALTH SOLUTIONS
Kitty Weaver finds great satisfaction from educating patients when they are experiencing either chronic illness or needing end-of-life services.
“I had the opportunity to work with my father-in-law, an elderly aunt and a friend’s mother at the end of their lives,” she said. “It became a passion of mine to assist people at this very vulnerable time.”
Weaver is currently the director of palliative care for LTC Health Solutions, a sister company of Agape Hospice. She has worked in many different aspects of nursing over her 30-year career but has been working in the hospice realm since 2012.
“In palliative care, it is rewarding to offer help to people who are suffering with chronic illness but not yet needing hospice services,” she said. “I enjoy helping people with symptom management and advance care planning so that they can focus on the quality of their life.”
DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC
MUSC COLLEGE OF NURSING
Amy Williams is an assistant professor in the Masters of Science and Doctorate of Nursing Practice program at MUSC. She also provides primary care to patients at the MUSC University Pediatrics – Northwoods in North Charleston. Her specialty is pediatrics, and she takes particular interest in childhood obesity, childhood asthma and in promoting culturally effective health care, which is why she is fluent in Spanish and speaks it at her clinic in North Charleston regularly.
“I’ve always loved working with children and the same was true when I became a nurse,” Williams said.
Williams also said that she loves the level of teamwork that goes into pediatric care.
“There was and continues to be an initiative to care for them as holistically as possible. That may mean helping them overcome illness, manage chronic conditions or maintain optimum levels of health,” she said.
As a nurse educator, Williams encourages nurses to commit to being their best by always continuing to learn.
“Stay educated on the latest trends and always take care of yourself first. Our patients and communities depend on you,” she said.
RN, BSN, CPT, USAR
EAST COOPER MEDICAL CENTER
Kelly Holmes works as a nurse on the labor and delivery unit at East Cooper Medical Center and, for the past nine years, has worked as a nurse in the Army Reserves.
Holmes was working in women’s health diagnostic sales in 2006 when she decided to pursue a career in labor and delivery nursing.
“I was selling a test to assess risk of preterm delivery, and most of my job was educating nurses on the test. I had a passion to be on the other side,” she said. “I wanted to be the one taking care of these patients.”
For Holmes, what she loves most about labor and delivery is certainly witnessing the miracle of birth, but she also enjoys observing families — how they interact in the delivery room and how the baby is introduced to the siblings. She advises other nurses to always take the most difficult patients.
“You will learn the most from them,” she said.
She also feels incredibly honored to be serving her country in the Army Reserves.
“The Army Reserves has afforded me some extraordinary learning experiences and has taken me to some very interesting places,” she said. “I’m honored to serve this country and the soldiers of the Armed Forces alongside some phenomenal medical professionals.”
We have partnered with the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing to highlight some of the Lowcountry’s top nurses. HealthLinks Charleston wants to recognize nurses as the backbone of our medical community and thank them for all their efforts!
DR. JOY LAURER
PMHCNS BC, PSYCHIATRIC APRN
MUSC COLLEGE OF NURSING
Not only is Dr. Joy Lauerer an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at MUSC, but, for the past 15 years, she has maintained her own practice of treating preschoolers to young adults with mental health issues. She lectures nationally on children’s behavioral health issues, and even has experience practicing at One80 Place, the homeless shelter in Charleston, where she was responsible for the mental health care of the children and families who lived there.
Dr. Lauerer said that her favorite part of being a nurse is helping children and families find hope.
“I love interacting with patients and their families,” she said. “It is so important to me that they find hope, find ways to solve their problems and develop strengths.”
She also practices at Coastal Pediatrics, providing behavioral health care in a pediatric primary care setting.
Dr. Lauerer gives great advice to anyone wanting to pursue nursing as a career.
“Always work hard and develop great mentors,” she said. “And don’t forget to practice good self-care as you are the role models in the community.”
TERESA J. KELECHI
PH.D, RN, FAAN
MUSC COLLEGE OF NURSING
The transfer of medical nursing knowledge from research to patient is paramount for Teresa Kelechi, professor and David and Margaret Clare Endowed Chair at MUSC. With a bachelor of science in nursing from Kent State University, a master of science in nursing from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D in nursing from the University of South Carolina, Kelechi has established herself as an expert in the field.
“Having the ability to conduct research that helps patients manage symptoms associated with having skin ulcers is the inspiration to my profession,” she commented.
Currently, Kelechi is affiliated with clinical practices where patients with lower leg problems such as venous insufficiency or diabetes are seen. She talks to them about symptoms and self-management, even inviting them to become part of ongoing studies.
“My plans are to continue to conduct research for preventing and managing a variety of ulcers,” she said. “I also plan to continue teaching Ph.D nursing students about conducting research and mentoring junior nursing faculty.”
DNP, CPNP, CPN, CPEN
MUSC COLLEGE OF NURSING
Michaela Lewis understands how the well-being of children is important to our collective future and the crucial role of nursing in that goal. After earning an associates and a bachelor of science in nursing from Gardner-Webb University, Lewis completed her education with a doctor of nursing practice at MUSC, where she continues to teach full-time.
“As an instructor, I use knowledge gathered from research, current evidence-based guidelines and personal experience,” she said. “I serve as a mentor and resource for students as they enter the acute care setting and initiate interactions with pediatric patients and families.”
Lewis feels strongly about her role in teaching young nurses to care for children.
“I am a sieve through which caregivers of children may filter information and, with that information, make informed decisions,” she said. “Children, upon whom the future of our nation and world rest, deserve every advantage and opportunity.”
AMELIA (AMY) JOSEPH
SWAIN DEPARTMENT OF NURSING
A suggestion by her guidance counselor kindled Amelia Joseph’s career in nursing. After receiving her bachelor of science in nursing from Southern Connecticut State University, she finished her education in the Lowcountry, getting her masters in business administration from The Citadel and earning her Ph.D at the University of South Carolina. Since then, she has built an extensive career in nursing.
“I’ve worked in a variety of different clinical settings, mostly as a nurse manager, and finished my career here in Charleston as an associate nurse executive,” she said.
Throughout Joseph’s years as a nurse, she has made great efforts to care for patients individually and without judgment. “I believe that family, whatever that means to the patient, is an extension of the patient,” she explained. “I believe that you never treat a patient in a vacuum, but, rather, you treat the patient as well as his or her family.”
Joseph is currently the department head for the Swain Department of Nursing at The Citadel.
AMEDISYS HOME HEALTH
While working for a company that manufactured hospital beds, Jill Deaton was inspired by studying how these beds prevented injury. She then decided to go back to school, attending Trident Technical College to earn an associates degree in nursing.
“I wanted to be a part of that healing process,” she said. “I worked in a couple of hospitals and soon found my passion – home health nursing.”
Deaton continues her mission today as an RN case manager for Amedisys Home Health, where she takes pride in changing the lives of her patients for the better.
“Seeing my patients’ smiles when I walk in their door and knowing they feel comforted and reassured when I leave is the ultimate reward,” she pointed out. As for future goals, Deaton plans to concentrate her efforts on being an educator and assisting other nurses who choose to work in home treatment.
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