Melissa Powell

PhD Student
melissa powell

I knew I wanted to become a nurse when I was in elementary school. I wanted to make a difference in the quality of care patients receive and felt a career in nursing would afford me the opportunity to help patients through the most challenging moments of their lives. With several family members impacted by cancer, I was drawn specifically to oncology nursing. Oncology patients have inspired me with their courage, hope and determination.

Living in Kansas City, Missouri, for seven years, I earned my BSN from William Jewell College in 2013 and then my MSN with a focus on leadership and public health from The University of Kansas in 2018. Coming most recently from Seattle and after visiting DUSON, I knew this community was my ideal choice for a PhD education. The faculty and staff are truly invested in my success while providing an outstanding education and engaging learning environment. DUSON has access to a large health system with connections to diverse professions and schools within Duke. I knew the opportunities at DUSON would provide all of the resources I needed to excel as a PhD student and future nurse researcher. I can’t say enough about how supportive and spirited the DUSON community has been, and I have felt set up for success since day one.

My most recent nursing role was as a quality improvement and patient safety program manager at an NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This experience led to my current research interests in safety culture and the wellbeing of health care workers that face adversity in their roles. During my previous work experience, I noticed the system level challenges that impact health care workers every day. As traumatic and stressful experiences occur, health care workers need support for their own wellbeing and retention in the profession and to continue providing high quality patient care.

As I grow in the PhD Program at DUSON, I hope to integrate my skills and research findings into a future career as a nursing professor and researcher. My immediate research goals are focused on understanding the experiences of health care workers after traumatic events and experiences. I hope describing the experiences of health care workers will provide insight into the specific support needed on an individual and organizational level.

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