September 13, 1996

Classes “R.N.” session for School of Nursing’s incoming students

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Ambrose Amadi, of Nigeria, plans to become a behavioral health nurse practitioner

Classes "R.N." session for School of Nursing's incoming students

Kannimariammal Abraham is going through VUSN's bridge program

Kannimariammal Abraham is going through VUSN's bridge program

Marti Kyle will specialize in nurse midwifery

Marti Kyle will specialize in nurse midwifery

For Nordira Karimova, filling out the forms for nursing school brought sadness.

A blank was left empty next to the request for her parents' address and phone number.

"I can't provide that because I don't know where they are," Karimova said. "They move from one place to another."

Karimova, a new student in the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, is a native of Tajikistan, a part of the former Soviet Union. She is in the United States for political asylum. Her parents are in hiding in Moscow.

A recent graduate of Albertson College, in Caldwell, Idaho, the 26-year-old came to the United States three years ago.

"It was hard to leave my family. For my first month away, I didn't know what was happening to them," Karimova said.

"Then I learned that my father (a former professor) was being held as a hostage and my mother (a medical doctor) was hiding among our friends and relatives. All our neighbors were killed during all the turmoil in September 1992."

Karimova's brother, also in Moscow, did not escape unscathed, either.

"Last March, he was kidnapped because of his political beliefs. It's very scary, because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow."

But despite the unsettled family life and the bi-monthly one-way phone calls, Karimova is pleased to be at VUSN.

In the Bridge Program, she will graduate in two years with a master's degree in nursing. She hopes ultimately to work in a rural area of this country.

"I want to work in primary care. My dream is to work with high school students, focusing on preventive medicine because I think that is the key – preventing disease."

Karimova is one of 246 new students in the School of Nursing, 24 more students than last year. The new students range in age from 20 to 52. About 13 percent (32) of them are male. They come from 34 states, with the majority of them (79 percent) coming from the South.

VUSN is one of a few schools in the nation that offers a Bridge program in which non-RN, bachelor's-degree students can receive a master's degree in nursing in two years.

Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, is pleased with the large class of students and the courses they will take.

"The expectation of our graduates is that they will be skilled in three areas of advanced practice nursing – academics, practice and research," said Conway-Welch. "The challenges that advanced practice nurses are going to be facing in the new health care world will require skills in all three areas in order to make meaningful contributions as advocates for our patients."

It is the opportunity to work with patients that led Ambrose Amadi to pursue a nursing profession.

A native of Nigeria, he received a bachelor's degree in animal science and a master's degree in agricultural science from Tennessee State University, but a job as a medical technician in a local hospital helped shape his dream.

Married, with four children, he plans to become a behavioral health nurse practitioner and work with psychiatric patients.

"My professors have encouraged me to pursue this dream. This will give me a proficiency in a specialized area," Amadi said.

"I think the Bridge program is excellent. People from all walks of life, musicians and others with no nursing background, have made it through the program. You just have to be willing to do your work and you will make it."

While the VUSN Bridge Program is designed for students like Karimova and Amadi, who are not R.N.s, many of those in the program are already nurses, like Marti Kyle.

A diploma-registered nurse from southwest Missouri, 25-year-old Kyle entered VUSN to get her master's degree and specialize in nurse midwifery.

"I worked in public health and home health care the past year in my hometown of Gainesville, Mo.," Kyle said.

"Certified nurse midwives are a rarity in southwest Missouri. The general population back home is medically under-served. Hopefully, because I was raised there, I will be able to go back and gain acceptance and be able to provide some much-needed health care for women and children."

Though she is happy with the VUSN program, she admits to being nervous.

"One minute, I am scared. Then excited. Sometimes, I find myself thinking, "Do you know what you are getting into?"

Also already an R.N., Kannimariammal Abraham is adding another dimension, working full-time while going through the Bridge Program.

Married and the mother of a 13-year-old daughter, Abraham, a native of India, has worked in the dialysis clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for three years.

"I want my master's degree. It has been a goal to return to school to advance in my practice," Abraham said.

"I am grateful for the opportunity where I can work and also go to school. It's wonderful. You don't get that in many places.