Ph.D, RN, FNP-BC, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Dr. Ruthie Conner has enjoyed working in many aspects of the nursing field throughout her career. She was once a hospital nurse, a travel nurse and a transplant coordinator. She is now an assistant professor in the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing program in the doctor of nursing program. She also enjoys working as a family nurse practitioner in the HouseCalls program at United Healthcare.She said she was inspired by her father to pursue a career in nursing.”My dad was chairman of the board of trustees at Lexington Medical Center when I was in high school,” she said. “He had a huge respect for all health care workers, especially nurses. He encouraged me to pursue a nursing degree.”Dr. Conner holds a bachelor of science in nursing from Clemson University and a family nurse practitioner and Ph.D in nursing from MUSC.Dr. Conner said she is thankful for her father’s encouragement.”I have enjoyed every moment of my career. It is so rewarding to provide emotional and physical comfort to people who are not feeling well,” she said.As a nurse educator, Dr. Conner enjoys mentoring students.”I wanted to make sure that nursing students understood that a positive attitude and a genuine display of kindness with each and every patient were just as important as their knowledge and that if at any time they did not enjoy their job that there were countless other job possibilities in this amazing profession.”
DEBBIE CHATMAN BRYANT
DNP, RN, FAAN
As an associate professor, associate dean for practice and the director of outreach and community relations, Dr. Debbie Chatman Bryant never wants to forget where she came from and as a result now dedicates her career to bridging the gap in understanding and respect between at-risk communities and health care systems.”I grew up in a small, rural community in South Carolina. I witnessed firsthand the daily struggles families faced – raising children, paying the bills, putting food on the table and caring for elderly or ill family members. Mothers and families often put their own health care needs on the back burner because they didn’t have the time, the money or access to health care. As a result, I watched many of them succumb to preventable and manageable diseases,” she said.Much of Dr. Bryant’s current work involves health inequities for marginalized populations.”Many of the issues encountered in at-risk communities are heartbreaking and frustrating, but all of the stories are real and underscore the challenges facing poor, rural, underserved communities in need. The faces in these communities represent an inescapable public health crisis of our time. Our job is to expand nursing influence beyond traditional health care boundaries and find solutions for social justice issues toward greater gender, racial and ethnic equality,” she said.Dr. Bryant’s advice to new nurses: “Find grace in leaning into uncomfortable spaces to advance change. Reform policies using our influences as nurses to address social determinates of health and public health practice. Identifying solutions will not be easy, but I believe as said by the late James Baldwin: ‘Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.’ As nurses – lean into the hard work!”
Kim Bradley said she felt “called” to do what she is currently practicing in nursing. As a Marine spouse of 25 years, Bradley has a distinct understanding and awareness of the challenges and difficulties facing military families. With over 20 years of experience as a nurse, Kim has worked the last 11 years for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society as a combat casualty assistance visiting nurse, helping post 9/11 Marines, sailors and their caregivers adjust to life after wartime service. In her unique role, she has been able to travel throughout the United States, making face-to-face visits at no charge to the patients and families, regardless of their discharge status. She currently covers the states of South Carolina and Missouri.Bradley said her education took her almost 20 years and to nine different schools after many military moves and raising two children while taking classes. She completed her ADN at the Jewish Hospital College of Nursing in St. Louis, which is now called Godfarb School of Nursing. She completed her BSN online through Chamberlain College of Nursing almost 10 years later, when her kids were in high school.She spent her first 10 years of nursing working as a mother/baby nurse, parent/child educator and as a lactation consultant before moving on to help military families.”I am a person of service and compassion, and I felt nursing was a great fit for me as a mom and military spouse,” she said.
DR. CARRIE L. CORMACK
DNP, APRN, CPNP
Dr. Carrie Cormack is an assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is the lead pediatric faculty in the MSN/DNP program. But beyond her success as a nurse, she always knew she wanted to work with children.”During high school, my dad and I volunteered together weekly at a children’s hospital in Boston. That experience was so meaningful and made me realize that pediatric nursing was my calling. My early experiences as a nurse definitely shaped my career path, and I found myself gravitating early on toward children with medical complexities,” she said.She wholeheartedly believes that new nurses should follow their passion, and, if there is a population of people they think they could help, they should go for it.”Being a nurse is not a job; it’s a part of who you are. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you love what you do and you are able to make a difference in the lives of others,” she said.She advises new nurses to remember to take the time to listen.”Days will be busy, and there will always be more to do. But take time to listen to your patients and families. If they offer to share their stories, take them up on it. I have learned so much from my patients and their families,” she said.