Jade England Was Born to be an NICU Nurse

Jade England Was Born to be an NICU Nurse

It is not unusual for nursing and other healthcare professions to run in the family, but sometimes the connections that lead a new generation into nursing can be almost eerie.

Tara Wood, DNP, CRNP, NNP-BC was a NICU nurse when she gave birth to twins Jade and Taylor England. Her newborns weighed less than two pounds and spent their first 87 days in a NICU. At some point, it seems to have been written that at least one daughter was destined to return one day.

“We had central lines,” says Jade England, who is completing her BSN degree at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Nursing. Both sisters have a permanent souvenir of the constant care they needed from birth: “We still have that scar from where they were placed. It’s just crazy to see that we have actual proof of what we’ve been through.”

That scar is the only physical reminder of their journey. England knows how lucky they are to not have any complications from being born prematurely. Growing up, she saw the pictures of their tiny bodies covered in sensors and tubes. When she decided to become a nurse, she knew she had to return to where her story started—the NICU.

“You have to have compassion for those babies. You just have to be called to do that,” England said. “I want to be able to be that nurse to let the parents know that I was in their child’s place. I just want to provide the best care possible and hopefully sharing my story will make a difference in their stay in the NICU. I don’t want to give them false hope, but I also want them to know that miracles happen.”

“She literally walked me around the entire unit and was telling everybody, ‘this is my baby, I took care of her and her sister.’”

Jade England graduated in April and now works at UAB Hospital in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her mother, Tara Wood – who is a member of the faculty at UABSON hopes her daughter will be able to give families the comfort she remembered needing.

“They’re going to be told all the bad, but when you can see a living example of success, I think it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to see what she does,” Wood said.

England will be working with one of the nurse practitioners who cared for her at the hospital where she was born. During her clinical at UAB, they made the connection.

“She literally walked me around the entire unit and was telling everybody, ‘this is my baby, I took care of her and her sister,’” England said.

“I think I found healing by helping others.”

Wood remembers not being able to hold her children for months. During that time, her lifeline to her girls was the nurses and nurse practitioners.

“My world was rocked,” Wood said. “My babies were really sick. Both of the girls were on the ventilator for weeks. Their organs were premature, and you’re faced with all the things that can go wrong. Just knowing that every minute mattered, it really put you in a constant state of terror and panic, of not really knowing how your babies are going to survive, much less thrive.”

She had planned on becoming a teacher, but the twins’ experience in the hospital changed her life. She realized she wanted to be a nurse so she could care for other families.

After working as a NICU nurse, Wood earned her Master of Science (MSN) in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the UAB School of Nursing. The journey came full circle for her as well. She’s now an Assistant Professor at the School and the Coordinator for the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track, teaching and preparing nurses to care for infants and families.

“Being a NICU mom 22 years ago we didn’t really talk about post-traumatic stress disorder and things like that that really lingered. I think I found healing by helping others,” Wood said.

Taylor England, Jade’s twin sister, also graduated from UAB this spring with a major in psychology with a minor in legal affairs and a certificate in mental health.

Jade wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and plans to return to school next year to start the Post-BSN to DNP Nurse Practitioner Pathway to earn her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. One day, she hopes to teach alongside her mom.

“I’m a proud mom and I want to share them with the world because I think that they were born to do great things,” their mother says. “They have servants’ hearts, and they want to help and do good.”

Nurses of the Week: The Three Fisher Sisters Have a Passion for Nursing Excellence

Nurses of the Week: The Three Fisher Sisters Have a Passion for Nursing Excellence

Charles Edward Fisher and his wife, Rosa Lee Fisher, had five children—two sons and three daughters. Theirs was an African-American family in the community of Freemanville, near Atmore, Alabama, in the mid-20th century. Given the times, they were aware of racial barriers to their children’s opportunities. However, that did not prevent the Fishers from having high expectations for their children and encouraging them to be the best they could be. Those expectations included that their children would graduate from high school and then pursue higher education. In their parents, the Fisher children had role models for working hard. Their dad worked as a janitor and later in production in a chemical plant. Their mom raised flowers for a plant-and-flower nursery.

Parental encouragement paid off. Four of the five Fisher children became college graduates and the fifth a trade school graduate.

For the Fisher daughters—Sarah, Cynthia and Eleanor—seeds also were planted for pursuing a nursing career. Their mom, Rosa, had wanted to become a nurse. But, as eldest daughter Sarah put it, “time and opportunity were not on our mother’s side.”

All three Fisher daughters would become nurses and would earn a nursing education grounded at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As time went on, Rosa Lee Fisher would smile and say, “with all three of my daughters in nursing, if I get sick and need a nurse, I should be covered on all three shifts!”

Sarah Louise Fisher, Ph.D, MSN, RN

Sarah Louise Fisher, PhD, MSN, RN

Sarah Louise Fisher, PhD, MSN, RN

In September 1965, Sarah Louise Fisher entered the baccalaureate program at what today is known as the UAB School of Nursing. The School then was based in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and, midway through Sarah’s studies, moved to its current Birmingham home as part of what would come to be UAB. Sarah was the first African-American student to be accepted to the School and, in 1969, the School’s first African-American graduate.

She later earned her master’s in nursing, an education specialist certificate and a PhD. All were from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, a city where she and her husband, Joe Giles, lived and reared their family. One of their three children, their son, is a nurse.

For Dr. Sarah Fisher Giles, innovation became a way of life. She was among the first nursing faculty at Wayne County Community College in Detroit and was innovative with curricula to educate nursing students. After retiring from a long career there, she became the founding director of a nursing education department for South University in Novi, Michigan. She also was in the Army Reserves and became a full colonel. In 2001, she was in the first group of distinguished nurses inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame.

“I am pleased that I was able to achieve my goals,” she said. “My baccalaureate nursing education from the UAB School of Nursing provided me with a strong foundation.”

She now lives in Georgia and spends her time volunteering to care for people in her church and in the community.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier, BSN, MSN, RN, MS Ed.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier, BSN, MSN, RN, MS Ed.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier, BSN, MSN, RN, MS Ed.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier is the middle of the Fisher daughters. Like her sisters, she has a life strongly grounded in nursing. She holds three degrees from UAB—a bachelor’s in nursing, a master’s in nursing, and a master’s in occupational education.

For more than 30 years, she worked at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and rose to positions of leadership. She worked as a nurse manager for four areas—dialysis, IV therapy/phlebotomy, medical specialty clinics and chemotherapy. Her nursing leadership has attracted accolades, including an Excellence in Nursing Award from B-Metro Magazine. The impact of her role modeling is apparent in her own family; one of her two daughters is a nurse.

Cynthia Fisher Frazier recalled being exposed to nursing ideals of high-quality care while she was a UAB baccalaureate and master’s nursing student.

“As a student at the UAB School of Nursing, I saw that the School’s standards were high and that the School did not compromise on those standards.”

Nursing ideals she came to know at UAB continue to guide her today.

“In regard to patient care, through the years I have believed in not compromising values and principles, and in maintaining that expected standard of care in whatever area of nursing you are delivering for patients,” she said. “For me, I believe that understanding and adhering to a high standard of care go back to what I learned at the UAB School of Nursing.”

That dedication to care for patients continued into retirement. When the need arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to go back to work to help administer vaccines to veterans.

Eleanor Fisher, BSN, MSN, RN, CRNA

Eleanor Fisher, BSN, MSN, RN, CRNA.

Eleanor Fisher, BSN, MSN, RN, CRNA.

The youngest Fisher sister, Eleanor Fisher, pursued an education that led her to a rewarding career in nurse anesthesia.

Typical of the Fisher siblings’ quest for higher education, Eleanor built a strong educational base. She earned baccalaureate and master’s degrees from the UAB School of Nursing. From the UAB School of Health Professions, where the program was formerly housed, she received education in nurse anesthesia.

Eleanor Fisher makes her home in the Birmingham area. But, for this retired contract nurse anesthetist, her work took her into hospital operating rooms in towns and cities outside the area.

She speaks of lessons learned in nursing school. “As a student at the UAB School of Nursing, I learned from the strong emphasis on delivering quality care and being an advocate for your patients. I took those lessons with me.”

When she was involved in putting a patient under sedation for a procedure, Eleanor said she viewed herself as an advocate for making sure the patient receives the best quality of anesthesia services. She approaches her patients with nurturing akin to what she herself received from her own parents and in turn gives to her son.

“I treat each patient as an individual,” she said. “For example, if my patient is a baby, I want that baby’s parents to know that I will treat their baby as though it was my own being put to sleep for surgery.”

Like her sister, she also jumped at the opportunity to do her part during the pandemic. She helps in the process of administering COVID vaccines for children and adults.

ICU Nurse/Photographer Documents COVID Frontlines at UAB

ICU Nurse/Photographer Documents COVID Frontlines at UAB

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals tightened restrictions on visitors and who could access certain areas. This meant that no photographers, videographers, or others could visually document what was happening inside COVID-19 intensive care units.

However, one UAB Medicine nurse answered the call and provided Birmingham, Ala. and the entire nation a rare look at the front lines inside UAB Medicine’s COVID ICUs, which included the Medical Intensive Care Unit, the Cardiac Care Unit, the Trauma Recovery Unit (which opened in mid-2020 on the Hospitalist 3 unit), and the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit.

“Some of us were talking in the command center, and what we really wanted to do was showcase all of the great work and challenges our nurses, staff, physicians, and providers were doing every day at the bedside,” says Amanda Chambers, MSN, a senior director of Nursing Services at UAB Medicine. “They asked if I could start taking some real-life shots of our staff working in our COVID areas.”

Chambers says having a nurse taking pictures really made it a seamless process.

“I blended into the background, and I knew what they were doing, so I was able to help highlight what they wanted,” she says. “We wanted the public to see the frontline battle against COVID.”

Chambers recalls her first impressions of the COVID units.

“I think the first real experience for me was that it was extremely complex,” she says. “It was hot and it was uncomfortable with all of the appropriate protective equipment on. But the other thing that I saw was really a sadness for the lack of any family involvement in those areas. When you went in there, it was really just to help your team there with those patients, and those can be some of the scariest and most intimate moments.”

Although she has been a nurse at UAB Medicine for years, having a barrier verbally and visually was a stark reminder of the situation she and her colleagues were in.

“I can only imagine what our patients are seeing,” she says.

Chambers became a window to the world in late 2020 when her photos were featured on ABC’s “World News Tonight With David Muir.” She says her colleagues were excited and thankful that millions were able to get a glimpse into daily life at UAB Medicine.

“My co-workers have been really thankful and proud that our profession was highlighted on a national level,” she says. “The nation has been able to see behind the curtains into our COVID units and what it is really like for patients and ourselves, so they definitely have been very excited and energized when they’ve seen themselves or a colleague or someone they know on the national front being highlighted for the care they deliver.”

View some of Amanda’s photos here.

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