Nurse of the Week: After Losing Two Sons to Rare Disease, Kathy Wales Leaves Air Force to Become A Nurse

Nurse of the Week: After Losing Two Sons to Rare Disease, Kathy Wales Leaves Air Force to Become A Nurse

Our Nurse of the Week is Kathy Wales, a recent nursing school graduate who decided to leave the Air Force to become a nurse after losing both of her sons to a rare disease. Wales’ took a different path to nursing than most. She is a 15-year Air Force veteran who stopped working in 2009 after her two young sons were diagnosed with a rare disease. She eventually lost them both in the years that followed—one to illness, the other to suicide. 

Her son’s deaths inspired Wales to build a new career, which begins next month at a Virginia hospital. Her career path will allow her to help patients work though grief and mental health issues, honoring the lives of her children.

Wales tells washingtonpost.com, “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you have no idea what someone’s going through when you see them walking down the street. You just have no idea. And I really would like to try to be able to make a difference for people like us.”

After Wales’ youngest son, Alex, tripped over a toy truck at home, caused by disorientation, she took him to the hospital for stitches. Alex began behaving even more strangely at the hospital and an MRI showed that he had lesions on his brain and a blood test confirmed a diagnosis of adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). ALD is a degenerative disease, which often strikes boys between ages 4 and 10, and causes the brain an inability to speak, blindness, and deafness. Death often follows within five years of diagnosis. 

Wales’ family sought out second opinions and treatment options, one of which included a bone marrow transplant. Alex’s older brother, Zach, was a match, but testing showed that he also had ALD. Alex eventually died at 16 years old after a long, hard seven year battle. Five months later, Kathy started an accelerated nursing program at the East Coast Polytechnic Institute, inspired by the experience she had caring for her sick sons. Three months into the program, tragedy struck again when Zach took his own life at age 20. 

After a three-month break from nursing school, Wales came back and finished her degree and will begin as a nurse in the behavioral mental health program at the Novant Health UVA Prince William Medical Center in June. Her mission is simple—she’s living for her sons. To learn more about Kathy Wales, a recent nursing school graduate who decided to leave the Air Force to become a nurse after losing both of her sons to a rare disease, visit here

Southeast Missouri State University Nursing Students Pilot Organ Donation Education Program

Southeast Missouri State University Nursing Students Pilot Organ Donation Education Program

Southeast Missouri State University senior nursing students have developed and piloted a first-of-its-kind online educational program on tissue and organ donation. The students are enrolled in the “Introduction to Critical Care” course and their initiative, “Organ and Tissue Donor Education for Undergraduate Nursing Students,” is made possible by a grant awarded by Mid-America Transplant (MT). 

The online program created by Southeast Missouri provides nurse educators with current, comprehensive information about organ and tissue donation for inclusion in nursing school curriculums. The program will give nursing students a clearer understanding of the role of an organ procurement organization like MT. 

Dr. Linda Heitman, professor in the Southeast Department of Nursing and principal investigator for the project, tells news.semo.edu, “Together, we explored disparities in organ and tissue donation education for nursing students, and we created a learning platform to provide current, comprehensive information to address those disparities.”

The online program consists of five learning modules, including an overview of organ donation, the nurse’s role in organ and tissue donation, family bereavement and aftercare, and a certificate of completion. Providing students with education on comprehensive and compliant organ and tissue donation protocols prepares them to make informed end-life-decisions as future healthcare providers. 

Mid-America Transplant is based in St. Louis, Missouri and is the first organization in the world to have a retrieval center for organ and tissue donation. To learn more about the pilot organ donation education program created by senior nursing students at Southeast Missouri State University, visit here

UC Davis Chancellor Names Stephen J. Cavanagh New Dean of the School of Nursing

UC Davis Chancellor Names Stephen J. Cavanagh New Dean of the School of Nursing

UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May has named Stephen J. Cavanagh, current dean of the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing, the new dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, effective July 22. 

Cavanagh brings extensive experience in collaborating across the entire campus of a university to create innovative programming for students and new forms of interprofessional education with him to UC Davis. He has been recognized for developing the health care workforce, maximizing the use of advanced-practice nurses in clinics around the region to advance access, and educating the next generation of clinicians and scholars.

Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Davis, tells UCDavis.edu, “On behalf of Chancellor May and the entire UC Davis community, I am extremely pleased and honored that Dr. Cavanagh has accepted the nomination to be our dean for the School of Nursing. I am confident he will lead the next phase of growth for the School of Nursing in a manner that serves our students and our community well.”

Cavanagh joined UC Davis because of the opportunity it gives him to improve the health of Northern California using new models of nursing and medicine collaboration to improve health. As dean of the College of Nursing, Cavanagh looks forward to finding new ways to engage communities, new technologies to prepare students, and new opportunities for science to improve lives. 

To learn more about Stephen J. Cavanagh who was recently appointed as the new dean of the UC Davis College of Nursing, visit here

Nurse of the Week: Raleigh County Schools Director Deborah Kaplan Recognized for Nursing Excellence

Nurse of the Week: Raleigh County Schools Director Deborah Kaplan Recognized for Nursing Excellence

Our Nurse of the Week is Deborah Kaplan, the director of nursing and health services for Raleigh County Schools. Kaplan was recognized by the Highmark Foundation for “Advancing Excellence in School Nursing.” The foundation awarded Kaplan the School Nursing Practice and Leadership award in honor of her demonstration of leadership in school health and qualities of care and compassion.

Kaplan has more than 35 years of nursing experience. She started her career as a floor nurse at an area hospital and has served in a number of capacities in the hospital setting, including outpatient surgery and quality improvement nurse management. She heard about school nursing from a colleague and grew interested in pursuing a job as a school nurse before finally joining the Raleigh County School system when a job became available in 1997.

As health care challenges have grown over the decades, so has the need for more nurses, especially in schools. Over the course of her career, Kaplan has advocated for more nurses in the school, and the board office supported the effort. There are now 14 school nurses throughout the county, and most nurses oversee two schools each. Kaplan has also provided “Stop the Bleed” training for school nurses and staff in case of an active shooter and applied for grants to get emergency medical supplies in each school in the county. 

The Highmark Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and quality of life for individuals and communities throughout the areas served by Highmark Inc. To learn more about Raleigh County Schools Director Deborah Kaplan who was recognized by the Highmark Foundation for excellence in nursing, visit here

US Senate Vows to Strengthen Academic Nursing During National Nurses Week

US Senate Vows to Strengthen Academic Nursing During National Nurses Week

During National Nurses Week, which took place last week, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced S. 1399 Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019. The new legislation will help strengthen academic nursing and has received public support from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) since it was announced. 

Dr. Ann Cary, Chair of the AACN Board of Directors, tells newswise.com, ”We commend the efforts of our Senate Nursing Champions for introducing this vital legislation during National Nurses Week. As I have witnessed firsthand, Title VIII programs are a strong investment in nursing education and workforce and help to ensure that the next generation of nurses are prepared to address the healthcare needs of our nation today and in the future.”

For over 50 years, Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs have consistently and continually built the supply and distribution of highly educated nurses by strengthening nursing education at all levels, from entry preparation through graduate study. Title VIII programs provide grants, loans, and scholarships to help prepare the next generation of nurses and ensure that we have a qualified and diverse set of providers. This bipartisan legislation would reauthorize the Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act) through Fiscal Year 2024 and align them with current priorities for the profession.

According to Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer, “Title VIII Nursing Workforce programs serve a vital role to our nation by attracting new nurses and faculty into the nursing profession. AACN looks forward to working with our Senate Nursing Champions to advance and pass this critical legislation.”

Title VIII has received support from the Nursing Community, a coalition of 62 national nursing organizations, in support of this legislation. To learn more about Title VIII programs, visit the AACN’s Policy and Advocacy web page.

Listen to the Chapter Podcasts for Jonas and Kovner's Health Care Delivery in the United States


Gain a better understanding of the current state of the US health care system and how it might impact your work and life.

You have Successfully Subscribed!