Lana Keusch

ABSN Student
lana keusch

I am from Lexington, Massachusetts — a medium-sized suburb about 20 minutes outside Boston, known for being the site of the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. My dad is a physician who specializes in infectious disease research, and my mother is a retired pediatrician. Though Lexington was technically "home," I practically grew up in hospitals and laboratories with my parents. We also spent months at a time traveling and living abroad for their work. For the first several years of my life, they conducted some of the first HIV clinical research trials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire at the time) as part of a diverse international team. They went on to help shape the fields of tropical medicine, global nutrition and developmental pediatrics over three-plus decades of dedicated work around the world. I consider those formative years with them in Kinshasa, London, Durban and Dhaka (among others) to be the foundation of my life's journey. I came to love the study of countries, cultures and languages. After high school, I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to get my BA in African Studies, followed by Boston University School of Public Health for an MPH in Global Health and, most recently, the American Graduate School in Paris for a Certificate in International NGO Management.

Having grown up surrounded by physicians, I have always been attracted to the idea of a clinical career. Unfortunately, I failed pre-med in college and was too discouraged to try again. I figured I wasn't cut out to be a clinician. Yet, I still found myself drawn to hospitals and health care. In my mid-20s, I took an administrative job at Boston Medical Center, where I met the most incredible group of providers I have ever worked with, including several RNs and NPs. I was in awe watching the nurses run that clinic — the bonds they formed with patients, the vast array of hospital and community resources at their fingertips, and the smiles and laughter they inspired. It was the first time I had witnessed all of my passions combined: medicine, social justice, public health and patient advocacy. I slowly came to realize that medical school had simply been the wrong choice for me. I was destined to be a nurse.

When COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March 2020, I was working for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and slowly finishing my nursing pre-requisites. I planned to stay in New York and attend school part time for several years. However, within two weeks, I saw my once bustling city go eerily quiet and dark. I listened to the never-ending ambulance sirens and watched as my clinician friends were quickly overwhelmed by tragedy and death. I decided immediately to change course; I wanted to be on the front lines, not in five years, but as soon as possible.

As I researched accelerated BSN programs, Duke initially drew my attention as one of the country's premier nursing programs. The more I learned about Duke's vast international presence, commitment to diversity initiatives, and deep devotion to community health, the more my excitement and anticipation grew. The day my acceptance e-mail arrived, I turned to my fiancé in disbelief, and he grinned and said without hesitation, "Looks like we're moving to Durham!" There was no question in either of our minds where I needed to be.

I have two great passions in the world of medicine: sexual and reproductive health and refugee and immigrant health. I plan to combine these interests by earning my MSN in Forensic Nursing and a DNP in Nurse-Midwifery. My goal is to someday work for Doctors Without Borders and become a provider and advocate for refugee and asylum-seeking families, both domestically and internationally. I also hope to work as a nurse educator and help train future providers in low-resource areas.

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