Arizona Nursing PhD Student Overcomes Adversity on Her Path to Academic Success

Sept. 30, 2019

For the first time as a University of Arizona College of Nursing PhD student, Cristina Rivera Carpenter is working one job and not two to three. Last year, in addition to beginning a position with the University of California, San Francisco’s global health fellowship, the HEAL Initiative, she taught chemistry, science and ACT prep to high school students, worked as a school nurse, and also taught in Northern Arizona University’s American Indian Nursing program.

“I had to leave my clinical job because of the pace and the challenge of doing a PhD in three years,” says Rivera Carpenter. “That was a huge transition because for most of the past two years, I’ve worked two jobs at a time and sometimes up to three. It’s been really hard to balance work, family and school.”

Currently in her third year in the program, the Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholar and single mother of four’s academic road has had its share of bumps. But thanks to a positive spirit, Rivera Carpenter has maintained a 3.8 gpa and made it to the final year of her degree. This semester, she’s entering the beginning stages of her dissertation and in the spring she’ll be completing her study, going through analysis and gearing up to defend by June 30. “The past two years have been intense,” she says. “But this will be another level of intensity.” Rivera Carpenter is ready, though. Her drive to succeed is tried and true.

"Pursuing a PhD is something I always wanted to do but never thought I’d be able to. In that way, it’s been really great but it’s also been really challenging.” ~ Cristina Rivera Carpenter, Arizona Nursing PhD Student

For the bulk of the past ten years, Rivera Carpenter, who is Mestiza, has lived, worked and studied in the Navajo Nation. Drawn to a nursing career because of its focus on addressing health disparity, equity and population health, she has a powerful desire to give back to her community. Her ultimate goal, which is the focus of her dissertation, is to foster a more culturally relevant approach to health care that combines mainstream methodologies with those espoused by Indigenous cultures.

“Cristina has a rare authenticity and commitment to deliver high quality and culturally congruent health enhancement strategies to Indigenous communities,” says Rivera Carpenter’s faculty mentor, Arizona Nursing Clinical Associate Professor Michelle Kahn-John, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, GNP. “Through her work as an Indigenous nurse and scholar, I’m confident she’ll open the hearts and minds of communities, healthcare organizations and the scientific community through her gifts of powerful discourse and her admirable scholarship and advocacy for Native American and Indigenous populations across the globe.”

We caught up with Cristina recently to hear more about her busy nursing career thus far.

Can you tell us about the topic of your dissertation?

I’m interested in learning about wellness among Indigenous women. In the research for my dissertation, we’ll be looking specifically at wellness among Diné women in Navajo Nation border towns. One of the things we think is pretty unique is that I’ll be using an integrated methodology for the research, integrating mainstream, Western qualitative methodology with Indigenous methodologies. There’s really no guidebook for that within nursing, so we’re learning and developing it as we go.

What are the difference between the two methodologies?

With western methodologies, specifically a qualitative descriptive approach, you’re looking at summarizing what the experience is and how people are describing it. You stay very close to the data, and this is less analytical than other qualitative methods. With Indigenous methodologies, they originate from Indigenous world views. One of the main things to remember is that within Indigenous worldviews we have a difference because there’s no Cartesian Split, an enlightenment-era development within western theory and philosophy, which separated first the mind and body of the self, then the self from others, then from the living world. That connection remains intact in indigenous worldviews, so Indigenous methodologies are foundationally relational, reciprocal and relationship-based.

What is the goal of your research?

To describe wellness and the maintenance of wellness among this group of women, because it’s something that hasn’t been looked into from a strength-based, Nursing perspective. A lot of times when working with Indigenous people, research has taken a deficit-based approach in looking at health indicators that are seen as problematic. Those indicators are seen as something that’s concerning and needs to be addressed, rather than building upon strengths that are inherent in Indigenous communities. When we think about health and wellness, Indigenous health models are really wellness models. The focus is on holistic aspects, like mind/body/spirit rather than on a specific health indicator.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during your PhD career?

Pursuing a PhD is something I always wanted to do but never thought I’d be able to. In that way, it’s been really great but it’s also been really challenging. At times, we have really struggled with economic insecurity and in the past two years our biggest struggle has been with housing insecurity. Holistically and also health-wise, it’s affected my family. We talk about social determinants of health a lot, but until you live it, I don’t think you can truly understand it.

We acknowledge the difficulties but we have a lot of support. I have a really supportive family, and awesome social support from friends, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s really about: Family and community. That’s why I’m doing this program and that’s also what’s sustained us along the way.

I’m trying to look forward after having been in survival mode for the last couple of years. We went through multiple life transitions and that was hard and really challenging for both me and my kids, but trying to face it in a positive way has helped us become closer as a family.

How has your student experience at Arizona Nursing informed your approach to teaching?

Seeing how my mentor, Dr. Michelle Kahn-John, supports her students has been really inspirational. I try to take from her example and give back to my students while I’m also currently receiving mentoring support. She has been a wonderful example of the kind of faculty that I hope to be. In fact, my entire committee has been great. I work a lot also with Dr. Marylyn McEwen and also Dr. Leah Stauber, and then from UA American Indian Studies, Dr. Patrisia Gonzales. Things like rigor are really important but it’s also important to be invested and be supportive because that can make such a huge difference for students, especially if you’re struggling or going through transitions related to school.

What are your hopes for the future?

In time I’m hoping to develop a career that’s in line with my interests and values. I really love teaching and working with students, especially students that may face additional barriers on their journey to education. I was a teen mom, so it’s important to me to support other minority students or students who come from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or underrepresented communities. I’m falling in love with research, especially social justice and equity-focused research, so I’d like to continue with that, too. And then I really have an interest in global health, because I think a lot of our Indigenous issues are very local but also very global. I would love to find a way to blend those things.

Arizona Nursing BSN Alumna’s Passion for Serving the Underserved Transcends Borders

Sept. 25, 2019

Humanitarian nursing is part of University of Arizona College of Nursing alumna Katherine Stradling’s DNA. The 2013 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate founded Hands to Hearts, a nonprofit that provides education and resources to empower people to save lives. The organization offers life support courses to underserved communities in the United States, while building the first response system in rural Mexico. Hands to Hearts grew from Stradling’s experiences as a Registered Nurse with the Flying Doctors, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the health and well-being of underprivileged communities through the provision of no-cost medical, dental, and optometry clinics. “I met some of the coolest people I’ve ever met and done some of the coolest things, just working in rural clinics throughout Mexico,” Stradling says. “I absolutely love working in rural hospitals in impoverished areas, helping people that medicine sometimes misses.”

Realizing that underserved communities also suffer from a lack of Emergency Medical Training, Stradling was inspired to establish Hands to Hearts in order to offer a full roster of emergency training for in-need communities. With a mission that stresses that no one should die of treatable medical emergencies due to lack of education and resources, Hands to Hearts offers life support courses to community members both in rural Mexico and in the United States. Stradling and her team have provided training to more than 2,500 people and improve quality of life by donating unused medical supplies and equipment to medical organizations in need.

“Katherine was a third semester BSN student in her psych rotation clinicals with me as her instructor at Palo Verde Hospital,” recalls Arizona Nursing Clinical Instructor Susan Markovich, MSN, RN.

"I absolutely love working in the more rural hospitals in impoverished areas. It’s what I enjoy and I feel like it makes a huge difference. Nurses can really go above and beyond and make change for those who need it most.” ~ Katherine Stradling, BSN

“It was obvious at that time that she envisioned her nursing career as a calling in which she could devote her professional life to helping others in a Global sense.”

Tell us about the genesis of Hands to Hearts.

Once I graduated with my BSN, I moved back to California. Right at that time, the Calif. State Board of Nursing crashed, so I watched pretty much everybody in Arizona get a job while I was stuck in limbo-land for six months, unable to test. One day, I woke up and said, ‘I cannot sit here and do this anymore.’ I’ve always wanted to do humanitarian nursing, so I started researching programs and that’s when I found the Flying Doctors, which provides medical resources to rural clinics in Mexico.

That was the inspiration for Hands to Hearts, which has slowly developed over the last couple years. Now we actually offer a full three-week Emergency Medical Training program for emergency response responders and also people in rural communities.

We officially hit our two-year mark as a non-profit in October, but I’ve been doing things very similar to Hands to Heart for about three years now. Recently, I switched gears and left hospital nursing full-time, so now I live in rural Mexico for half the year.

What led to your passion for humanitarian work?

I was raised in a family that did charity work. It wasn’t something optional to volunteer, it was just what you did. I absolutely love working in the more rural hospitals in impoverished areas. It’s what I enjoy and I feel like it makes a huge difference. Nurses can really go above and beyond and make change for those who need it most.

What are some of the biggest challenges of this kind of work?

The biggest challenge we have with Hands to Hearts right now is we’re really striving for self-sufficiency. Over the last couple years, there have been a lot of articles addressing the issue of medical equality and asking if humanitarian medicine is really reaching that equality. It’s because if you come down and help these people and then leave, they’re now dependent on you. The studies are asking, ‘Is this doing long-term good?’ So what Hands to Hearts focuses on is self-sufficiency. Once students graduate our program, we train them to become instructors so that they can be self-sufficient. We currently have eight CPR instructors in rural Baja. Getting them to that point has been one of the biggest challenges, but it’s really cool when you do. This last week, I’ve had 120 people certified in CPR.

Tell us more about the programs Hands to Hearts offers.

We offer a CPR and First Aid course. We offer an education school course, which is designed for teachers and high school kids, because a lot of those rural schools are where most of the injuries are going to happen. It’s a two-day course that is designed for teachers and coaches. We also have a four-day emergency first response program, which covers how to best use your resources to get somebody to the hospital alive. Then we have the three-week pre-hospital emergency response program, which is equivalent to an emergency medical technician program.

We believe in education plus resources to empower community members. After they graduate, we give them the supplies they need to execute those courses on their own, because if you give somebody education without supplies, your education is useless. We also work with the rural hospitals, teaching classes. We’ve done a two-day trauma symposium, which was one of the first of its kind in Baja for nurses and doctors.

How many people have gone through Hands to Hearts courses?

Our classes keep getting bigger and bigger. We have certified a total of 1,500 people in CPR between the United States and Mexico. We have had a total of 13 graduates from our EMT program. And we are at 25 who have graduated our emergency first-aid certification course, which is designed for first responders.

How did your studies at UA Nursing inform your current work?

At the University of Arizona, we learned the reason ‘why’ behind things. We didn’t focus just on memorization, we focused on, for example, the path of physiology. That’s been my approach for this program and for my career in general. I’m really big on simulations, because the UA stressed simulations all the time.  I adopted a lot of that structure for our program. In addition, there were always resources around helping people in the community and health equality. I became a disaster nurse because of our final semester of nursing school, because we had a rotation where they told us about the Red Cross.

What are your hopes for the future?

In May, I sold everything I own and can live out of my RAV4 because I’m working in Mexico for six months of the year.  Right now, that’s what makes me happy, so I’m looking to continue that for a while. Eventually I’d like to return to school for my DNP. I think I’ll probably end up in the education route. That’s always been something that’s been calling me because I love patient care and education. I was looking back because I just hit my five-year mark of being a nurse and somebody asked me, ‘Is this where you expected to be?’ and I said, ‘No, I wanted to be a pediatric care nurse.’ I mentor a lot of new nurses and I tell them, ‘Have a plan, have a goal, but then be open for the world, because sometimes the world’s going to throw you into a situation that you’re meant to be in.’ Go in with an open mind, get the experience and learn everything you can, and the great thing about nursing is, if you don’t like something you can switch.

Visit Us at MAGNET Conference 2019

Sept. 23, 2019

We're heading to MAGNET Conference 2019! Stop by and say hello to your fellow Wildcat Nurses for Life!

Meet Us at MAGNET 2019!

October 10-12, Orlando Florida

The College of Nursing will have a booth at this year's MAGNET Conference in Orlando and we hope you will stop by. Connect with fellow Alumni, pick up some swag, and meet up for our reunion mixer. You can also learn about our degree programs, new DNP specialties and our Integrative Nursing Fellowship. We'll be at booth #1437. Find us on the floorplan HERE. Learn more about MAGNET conference HERE.

Arizona Nursing Mixer at MAGNET!

October 11th, 5:30 - 7:30pm

Orena Sports Bar

6159 Westwood Blvd, Orlando, FL 32821

Going to be at MAGNET or just in the Orlando area? Stop by for a cocktail and meet with other Alumni and folks from the College. We'll be taking over a local watering hole and showing them how to #BearDown with pride.




Wildcat Nurses Help Underserved Middle School Students Participate in School Sports

Sept. 11, 2019

On Wednesday, August 28, University of Arizona College of Nursing Clinical Assistant Professor Theresa E. Allison, DNP, FNP-C, led a group of UA CON Nurse Practitioner Faculty to provide sports physicals to underserved children at the Roberts Naylor K-8 School.

A majority of Roberts Naylor students are from low-income backgrounds, which means their parents are unable to afford to pay out of pocket for a sports physical, a requirement from the State of Arizona for any middle to high school students who wish to participate in sports.  Thanks to Dr. Allison and her team, students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in sports received the necessary screening.

"Every year, students ask if they can come back next year after they have graduated to participate again because it was so much fun.” ~ Theresa E. Allison, DNP, FNP-C

“It’s a head-to-toe physical exam,” says Dr. Allison. “With a focus on heart and musculoskeletal systems, listening and looking for any abnormalities which could cause serious medical problems if not detected before they played a sport.”

The physicals are particularly beneficial, she points out, because by getting children active and interested in sports helps them both physically and mentally. “Hopefully this pattern continues into high school and potentially be an avenue to get a college scholarship and allow them get a higher education,” she says.

The physicals and participation in sports within Roberts Naylor create school spirit and teamwork and allow student athletes to better themselves and their community.

“The University of Arizona College of Nursing has formed a great partnership with Roberts Naylor K– 8 over the last two years in a win – win relationship,” says Dr. Allison. “The principal told me this year that last year was the first year every child who wanted to participate in a sport was able to and they were able to fill every team with athletes. It also is great opportunity for our FNP DNP students to have experience with an underserved community and to practice doing sports PE’s. Every year, students ask if they can come back next year after they have graduated to participate again because it was so much fun.”

Arizona Nursing DNP Student Wins 2019 Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council Scholarship

Aug. 30, 2019

On August 11, the Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council (AZNPC) announced University of Arizona College of Nursing Student Erica Castillo, RN, as the winner of the 2019 NP Student Scholarship. The award is given annually to a first-time NP student in any specialty who is a member of the Arizona Nurses Association (AZNA).

With 17 applicants for the scholarship this year, it was a competitive field. Castillo was selected based on her outstanding essay and is receiving a $2000 award.  She recently completed the Master of Nursing in Clinical Leadership (RN-MSN) program at Arizona Nursing, where she is now starting her journey as a PMNHP DNP student.

Applications were anonymously judged on the following criteria: commitment to nursing, leadership abilities, ability to advance the profession, and the ability to succeed as an NP based on experience. Castillo demonstrated these attributes by playing an active leadership role in the Latino/Hispanic community, engagement in oncology and critical care nursing and research, and a commitment to provide culturally sensitive care to an underserved population of Latinos with behavioral health issues.

Congratulations, Erica!

"As a Latina, I know first-hand the impact family and culture have on patient outcomes, and as a provider, I hope to break down these barriers so patients are more willing to acknowledge their condition and accept help.” ~ Erica Castillo, RN

Why did you pursue a career in Nursing?

Initially, my plan was to expand my career in clinical research. I was accepted into the Bilingual Nursing Fellowship Program at Phoenix college, which is where I found my new passion, nursing. Nursing has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have done. I am so honored to be a nurse.

Why did you choose Arizona Nursing for your masters and doctoral programs?

I received my undergrad from Arizona State University and when I moved to Tucson, I decided to pursue my Master’s through the University of Arizona. The UA offers a great program for working professionals. I had the best experience, with such great professors that I decided to continue and pursue a Doctorate through the Arizona Nursing.

Why did you choose to pursue a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner degree?

I come from a family of police officers. Growing up and to date I heard about the various situations they encounter, most of which are encounters with people who suffer from a form of mental illness. Mental illness has always intrigued me and I have always wanted to find a way to help. Throughout my Masters, I focused my research in behavioral health and found a disparity due to lack of providers. I am pursuing a PMHNP to close this gap and provide mental health services to a population who is in such need. 

Can you tell us about your oncology and critical care nursing and research?

My career started in clinical research, 18 years ago. I have participated in Phase I – IV trials of human research in various indications. My first nursing job was on a Telemetry/Oncology unit (Tower 6) at St. Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., where I was surrounded by some amazing nurses who taught me the foundation of nursing. I then moved into Critical Care, where I was on the Medical ICU at St. Joe’s. I absolutely loved caring for patients during such a critical and scary time for them. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by nurses who supported each other, and who I could rely on to ensure my patients had the best care possible. I then moved to Tucson and was able to merge my two passions, nursing and research, as a Senior Research Nurse for the UA Cancer Center.

Describe your active leadership role in the Latino/Hispanic community.

I have held various leadership roles on boards such as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and the Latino Cancer Coalition, and I am a Hispanic Leadership Institute Alumni. These various organizations helped me better understand the disparities our community faces. Additionally, they have given me a platform to provide education, healthcare services and to be an advocate to promote culturally sensitive care. Currently, I am a board member for MHC Healthcare, which serves a population of approximately 40% Hispanics.

Can you tell us about any meaningful faculty mentorships you’ve had here at UA CON?

Yes. All my professors were outstanding, however Professor Sherry Daniels who I had the privilege to have as a professor for a couple of my Master’s courses. She went over and beyond to ensure my success.

What is the importance of providing culturally sensitive care to an underserved population of Latinos with behavioral health issues?

Unfortunately, there is a known stigma in the Latino community with regards to mental illness and therefore Latinos are reluctant to seek help. I believe the most important quality in providing care for Latinos with behavioral health issues is to include our culture and family. As a Latina, I know first-hand the impact family and culture have on patient outcomes, and as a provider, I hope to break down these barriers so patients are more willing to acknowledge their condition and accept help.

What are your plans for the future?

My vision for the future is to provide behavioral health services to those individuals who do not meet inpatient qualifications but cannot get in to see a specialist within a timely manner. My goal is to create a free-standing mental health urgent care facility to meet this niche population need.

New Faculty Profile: Get to Know Timian Godfrey, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CPH

Aug. 12, 2019

Please join us in welcoming Clinical Assistant Professor Timian Godfrey, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CPH, who joined the University of Arizona College of Nursing family last month. Dr. Godfrey, who will be teaching in the College’s advanced practice DNP-FNP program, has more than 16 years of health care experience within the fields of hospice, gerontology, emergency medicine, medical/surgical, telemetry, cardiac intensive care, pain management, and orthopedic spine surgery. Prior to joining Arizona Nursing, Dr. Godfrey was an advanced practice clinician with TribalEM, an emergency medicine leadership company that works exclusively with government and tribal health programs.

"Implementation science and healthcare leadership really excite me! I hope to continue to work in these areas. I also strive to culturally adapt evidence-based practice for American Indian/Alaska Native patients and communities.” ~ Timian Godfrey, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CPH

What drew you to a career in nursing?

A primary motivation to pursue a nursing career is my personal endeavor in the Navajo belief of hozho. Hozho is a holistic belief that health and well-being for all living things results in physical and spiritual beauty, harmony and goodness. It is often said that one must "walk in beauty", and I believe this statement aligns with the mission of nursing. We must promote hozho in our patients, colleagues and within ourselves in how we care for others.

As I continued to learn and gain knowledge through education, the more I realized how little I do know. In order to best serve my patients, rigorous study is needed to cultivate understanding and develop the skills necessary to improve individual, aggregate and systems outcomes. My desire to not only nurture my own hozho but also in those I serve, continues to motivate me in deepening my understanding of holistic health through education. 

What attracted you to the UA College of Nursing?

I was attracted to Arizona Nursing's mission to promote innovation and vision in transforming healthcare. Academia provides a unique opportunity to promote innovation in care delivery methods and advocate for evidence-based practice, both of which are especially appealing to me. Integrated and interdisciplinary care efforts are the way to address many of our nation's most pressing health issues, and I'm fortunate to now belong to an institution that encourages this.   

What is your field of research/specialty?

Implementation science and healthcare leadership really excite me! I hope to continue to work in these areas. I also strive to culturally adapt evidence-based practice for American Indian/Alaska Native patients and communities. 

Where are you from originally?

I was raised in American Fork, Utah by a wonderful mother and father. I also have one younger brother. I am a member of the Navajo Nation and I belong to the Red Bottom clan with my maternal grandfather being from the Salt clan. I am also Hawaiian-Japanese. My husband is an emergency medicine resident physician at Banner University Medical Center and we have been married for 9 years. We have two gorgeous young daughters, ages 5 and 2. We moved to Tucson in June 2019 from Las Vegas, NV where my husband served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

During the periods of free time I do have, I mostly enjoy spending time with my family and running around with my girls. Performing any form of physical exercise is probably my favorite past time. I'm excited to get outdoors and explore Mount Lemon and Sabino Canyon. 

Arizona Nursing PhD Student Awarded Oncology Nursing Foundation Research Doctoral Scholarship

Aug. 6, 2019

This month, the Oncology Nursing Foundation announced that University of Arizona College of Nursing PhD student Karen Anderson was selected as a recipient of an Oncology Nursing Foundation Research Doctoral Scholarship. The $5,000 award will aid Anderson during the 2019-2020 academic term. Currently in her second year in Arizona Nursing’s PhD program, Anderson earned a degree in Nutrition at Northern Arizona University before returning to school to pursue a career in nursing. After stints in Washington D.C. and Seattle, she returned to Tucson, where she stays busy as a full-time nurse manager and PhD student.

Why did you pursue a career in Nursing?

I became a nursing assistant in high school, so it was something I thought I was going to do from a really young age. I really like how holistic it is. You can help the patient across multiple issues and every single day is different.

"It’s validating and a really great honor to know that what I research and study is of value. It’s also a great encouragement for nurses to continue in higher education.” ~ Karen Anderson, Arizona Nursing PhD Student

Why did you choose Arizona Nursing?

I love Arizona. The other two big pieces for me were the ease of the application process compared to a lot of other places I looked at. And then the faculty. Being an oncology nurse, I’m interested in informatics and Arizona Nursing has stellar faculty in both of those areas.

How did you come to focus on oncology?

Because I had worked in a hospital setting, I liked the connection that oncology nurses had with their patients. They really got to know them and were deeply involved in their care. They developed relationships with patients that lasted years, so that was a strong connection that I was looking for.

Tell us about your oncology research?

I have spent most of my career working in bone marrow transplantation. We have a lot of new cellular immunotherapies that oncology patients are being treated with, so I’m interested in understanding how these therapies are assessed by nurses and how we partner with caregivers and patients to help manage the symptoms across the in-patient and out-patient environment.

What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?

It’s validating and a really great honor to know that what I research and study is of value. It’s also a great encouragement for nurses to continue in higher education.

Have you gotten the ball rolling with your dissertation?

I’m still in discussions with my advisor. After the first year, it’s really about determining what your approach is going to be, and how you hope to conduct your research. I’m hoping to focus on management of immunotherapy side effects.

Can you tell us about your mentorship with Dr. Jane Carrington?

Dr. Carrington was a really big draw for me at Arizona Nursing. She is very well-known and respected in the world of informatics. I’m really interested in her communication model and how that can be used in other areas like oncology. I find her to be incredibly approachable, extremely knowledgeable and also really encouraging. She’s also very funny. From the very first conversation with her, I thought, “This is somebody that I really hope to work with for my graduate education.”

What is the importance of combining your interest in oncology and informatics?

Some of it came from my professional experience. I came to understand how the Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a tool for communicating between health care providers and how it can also be a repository of data that can be used to study things that we have interest in in nursing. I really wanted to explore how we use that tool to help manage symptoms better for patients.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now, I am exploring. I’m not quite sure I’m interested in academia full time. I do have some interest in a role that blends academia with direct total care, like maybe a nurse scientist role in a health care system. At this point I really just seeing what’s out there and I’m hoping my doctoral education is going to show me what are other types of nursing scientist roles that are out there. 

A Portrait of Perseverance: A Danish PhD Student’s Years-Long Journey to United States Citizenship

July 17, 2019

2019 has been a momentous year for multi-tasking University of Arizona College of Nursing PhD student Hanne Dolan. As if the responsibilities that come with being a clinical nursing instructor, a doctoral student, a business owner, a wife and a mother aren’t enough, Dolan was also completing the process of becoming a United States citizen. Though she has lived and worked in the U.S. for almost 15 years and is raising two daughters with the benefit of dual Danish/U.S. citizenship, Dolan’s journey concluded at a Phoenix courthouse on May 17 during her official oath ceremony.

“Sixty-three of us from 25 different countries became citizens that day,” Dolan says. “It was very emotional and, in the end, we received our naturalization certificates.” It was the high point of a years-long quest that had more than its share of bumps along the way.

"Sixty-three of us from 25 different countries became citizens that day. It was very emotional and, in the end, we received our naturalization certificates.” ~ Hanne Dolan, Arizona Nursing PhD Student

A native of Denmark, Dolan’s first taste of stateside life came when she joined a touring musical group after high school graduation in 1999. She met and married her husband and the pair returned to Denmark, where college tuition is free to citizens, to enable Dolan to earn her bachelor’s in nursing.

Becoming a nurse had been a passion since a school career day when representatives from a nursing college gave a presentation. Dolan was captivated by the meaningful simplicity of providing care to those who need it most. “One of the teachers compared a hospital to a church,” she remembers. “Anybody is welcome. You come there at the most difficult and the most joyous periods of your life. A nurse’s only responsibility is to take care of people during those times.”

When Dolan and her family returned to the U.S. in 2005, they settled in Lake Havasu, Ariz., where her husband’s parents lived. Passing the NCLEX was easy. Obtaining permanent residency and taking the next step toward citizenship proved to be a challenge years in the making. A bureaucratic snafu with her immigration packet led to a three-year period where Dolan was compelled to renew her driver’s license and update her passport and visa every six months. When she finally obtained her green card, Dolan had a second daughter, a career in the local hospital and was hard at work on her master’s.

Thanks to a wrinkle in Danish law that required Danes who obtain citizenship in another country to renounce their birth citizenship, Dolan was ambivalent about seeking her U.S. paperwork. “I thought, there’s no way that I will ever give up my Danish citizenship,” she says. “I didn’t leave my country because I didn’t like it. I’m just here. I’m still Danish and I will continue to be that.”

But everything changed when Denmark loosened its restrictions in 2015. “Now it’s just a matter of figuring out the best time,” she remembers thinking. In March 2018, Dolan finally moved forward in a bid for U.S. citizenship. With the help of an immigration lawyer, she submitted her paperwork, completed a raft of biometrics such as fingerprints and photographs, and aced her final interview. “You get a booklet with 100 questions about American history and government,” she says. “You’re instructed to learn all 100 questions, from which 10 will be selected for your interview. So of course, being a PhD student, I knew every single question by heart, back-and-forth.”

With her U.S. credentials finally secured, Dolan felt a sense of belonging and security that had evaded her for years. “I don’t need an alien number anymore, no travel problems,” she says. “I always felt weird giving the pledge of allegiance. It didn’t feel right doing it when I wasn’t a citizen, but now I do it with pride. I belong here and I also belong in Denmark. Just like my girls, I now have dual citizenship.”

With that hurdle finally cleared, Dolan is focusing on her studies and research, and teaching clinicals to nursing students at Mojave Community College in Lake Havasu. She’s grateful for the flexibility of Arizona Nursing’s online program, which – along with its welcoming, responsive faculty – was her primary reason for choosing the program. With roughly two years to go before she earns her PhD, Dolan is completing qualitative research on fall prevention in hospitals from a patient’s perspective, and teaching clinicals one day a week. “Teaching nursing to students is right up my alley, because I’m very passionate about basic nursing care,” she says. “And it still gives me a chance to help with patient care."

As for the future, Dolan takes a wait-and-see approach. With her youngest daughter in school for six more years, she is happy for now with life in Lake Havasu. “Once I graduate, I can’t move anywhere, so I will have to teach online,” she says. “If I can do some research and publish, great, but after that who knows where I’ll be. A lot of it also depends on where my kids eventually end up.”

Homecoming 2019

July 15, 2019

Whether you graduated years ago or just last year, we would love to see you! For more information and to register, please visit the registration website here!

Friday, Nov. 01

Meet and Greet with Dean Ida “Ki” Moore

3 to 4 p.m. l College of Nursing, Room 117

Stop by and meet with the new Dean of the University of Arizona College of Nursing, Dr. Ki Moore!

No registration is needed to attend this special event.

Nursing Research and Scholarship Showcase

4 to 5 p.m. | College of Nursing, Room 117

How do we as nurses help fight the opioid addiction crisis?  Dr. Angela Brown and Dr. Renee Gregg will present Educating DNP Students to Utilize Holistic Integrative Interventions to Reduce Opioid Prescriptions in Chronic Pain Management. This presentation will provide a primer on holistic interventions that can stop the reliance on opioids before it begins.

This showcase is FREE, but registration is required. To register, please visit the registration page.

UA College of Nursing 2019 Homecoming Reception

5 to 6:30 p.m. | UA College of Nursing Courtyard

Celebrate Homecoming with fellow Wildcat Nurses, meet our new Dean Ki Moore and catch up with family and friends while enjoying a fun evening of delicious hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer. Take a tour around the building and simulation spaces and see what we have planned for the future!

This showcase is FREE, but registration is required. To register, please visit the registration page.

Saturday, Nov. 2

Wildcat Nurse Alumni Awards Breakfast

7:30 to 10 a.m. | College of Nursing, Room 117

Celebrate our College’s 62nd anniversary with your classmates and salute the 50th anniversary class of 1969!

Early bird $22.50 (expires Sept. 15) | Regular $25   

For more information and to register, please visit the registration site.

For questions regarding our Homecoming activities, please contact Isabel Chavez at (520)626-6152 or

Your registration fee for this event qualifies you to receive a $10.00 tax deductible donation.

Celebrating Anniversary Classes:

1969    50th Anniversary
1974    45th Anniversary
1979    40th Anniversary
1984    35th Anniversary
1989    30th Anniversary
1994    25th Anniversary
1999    20th Anniversary
2004    15th Anniversary
2009    10th Anniversary
2014    5th Anniversary

Wildcat for Life Tailgate Party & Parade

9:30 a.m. | UA Mall

Get ready for the game with friends and classmates at the official Wildcat for Life Tailgate Party. Bring the whole family for great food for purchase, entertainment, Wildcat merchandise and more! Open to the public.

>>More information

Arizona vs. Oregon State University Football Game

1:30 p.m. | Arizona Stadium

Purchase tickets online at

Contact Us
(520) 626-6152 |

For a full listing of UA Homecoming events, visit the Alumni Association Homecoming webpage.

Arizona Nursing Alumna Saves Lives as a United States Air Force Night Nurse

July 9, 2019

Alumna Spotlight: Amy Aragon Pollock, BSN, RN, CNOR,  First Lieutenant, United States Air Force; Arizona Nursing 2015 Bachelor of Science in Nursing Graduate; Night Charge Nurse, currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

Why did you choose a career in nursing?

The seed was planted when I was a child living in upstate New York. At a young age, I had the responsibility of assisting my mother, who had been diagnosed with Lyme’s disease. Her diagnosis took place in the ‘80s, when medical treatment was limited to infused chemotherapy meds. The home health nurses that visited our house educated me on the process of infusing these medications so that I could help when they were unable to make it to our home. The seed had begun to grow and I wanted to branch out and help more people.

"When I learned that the College of Nursing’s BSN program was one of the most competitive and highly ranked programs in the nation, I knew this is where I needed to attend nursing school.” ~ Amy Aragon Pollock, BSN, RN, CNOR, First Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Why did you choose the UA BSN program?

During the ‘90s we moved to Tucson. In eighth grade I was a member of the University of Arizona’s Academic Preparation for Excellence (APEX) program, which was my first exposure to the UA. Due to having several careers prior to attending the UA, I was not a traditional student. When I learned that the College of Nursing’s BSN program was one of the most competitive and highly ranked programs in the nation, I knew this is where I needed to attend nursing school.

What led to your Air Force nursing career?

I enlisted into the Air Force Reserves in 2003 as a surgical technician. I was very fortunate for the opportunity to train at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, the Air Force Academy in Colorado, and at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in California. I continued this career path with a job opportunity as a surgical technician at Northwest Medical Center in Tucson. I worked as part of the orthopedic, general, and cardiovascular surgical teams. Being a member of these teams allowed me to grow, learn and become a better surgical technician.

When I entered the military in 2003, my dream was to commission as an officer into the Nursing Corps and eventually retire as a Lieutenant Colonel, or even better, a Colonel. In 2018, after two and a half years of the rigorous application and interview process, my dream became my reality. I commissioned into the United States Air Force and now I am currently a 1st Lieutenant. I have the honor to treat the population I am so passionate for. 

Can you tell us about the skills you learned in the BSN program that have helped you most in your current duties?

Attention to detail along with critical thinking has definitely helped me as an operating room nurse. The utilization of incorporating evidence-based practice into my everyday tasks in the operating room has helped me to provide the best care to my patients. The dreaded care plans that we all had to write have proven to be beneficial in my understanding of nursing processes in my daily routine. Additionally, the Sim Lab experience is unlike any other! The scenarios were extremely helpful. Allowing me to practice my nursing skills without the pressure of a hurting real patients enabled me to become more confident in my skills as a nurse.

Describe a typical work day as an Air Force Night Charge Nurse.

Every night is a new adventure because no shift is the same as the last. My daily routine is to come in and check the rooms to ensure they are trauma ready. If a surgery is currently taking place, I get a report and relieve the day shift nurse from that case. Currently, our facility has been experiencing traumas on a nightly basis. Patient injuries range from face lacerations due to shrapnel, gunshot wounds, traumatic brain injuries that require immediate craniotomies, amputations of one or all extremities from IED blasts or land mines along with several others. These are just a few examples of the surgeries that may have to performed for a trauma patient. Regardless of which patient may come in, we are always ready. The critical care skills I acquired through Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) training and Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) taught me to quickly assess a patient. However, nothing beats the firm foundation built by my formal education from Arizona Nursing.

What is most meaningful to you about this work?

The most meaningful part about being an Air Force Surgical nurse is the population that I have been entrusted to care for. I treat our Active Duty members and their family members. Furthermore, I have the honor to treat veterans that have fought bravely for our country. At David Grant Medical Center, we treat all branches of the military, which to me is an immense privilege. Currently I am deployed and have the pleasure of treating our people as well as the Afghan population and host nations. It has been a very humbling and eye-opening experience to care for others from around the world.

Can you tell us about your hopes and plans for the future?

My career plan for the future is to earn my Masters of Public health. Currently, I am enrolled in my first semester of the MPH program at Grand Canyon University. I’m hopeful that this plan will allow me to take part in humanitarian missions and travel the world.  I would like to provide education plans and resources for different populations, which may include aiding in proper hand hygiene, disease prevention, how to procure clean water.

When I am not traveling the world I would like to offer my knowledge and experiences through teaching at a university level. The overwhelming amount of support and the evident passion of the instructors at Arizona Nursing has given me the motivation to provide this same passion to future nurses through the same route.