Selfless Service Through Involvement in the Community
Vincent Da is a first-generation college student. He often felt that he was not good enough to achieve things. Although he was inspired by his father’s selfless service in the military, he was not interested in the military nor a nursing profession although these careers were very common in his Filipino culture. Instead, he wanted to serve others in his own meaningful way. After exploring a variety of courses at UW Tacoma, speaking to Dr. Christine Stevens, faculty at the School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, and Nedralani Logotala, his supervisor at UW Tacoma’s Center for Equity and Inclusion as well as Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Leadership (BAHCL) alumna, he decided that healthcare administration fit his personality well. Vincent also thought the BAHCL degree would give him diverse, versatile, and flexible options in pursuing a career in healthcare. For these reasons, he decided to study in the BAHCL program.
Vincent’s experience serving a diverse student population as Student Body President at UW Tacoma for two years, managing its food pantry, and his fieldwork in health policy during his BAHCL program prepared him to become a strong candidate in the job market.
After graduating from the BAHCL program, he became a program assistant and is now Interim Vaccine Manager at the Center for Health Equity and Wellness at MultiCare. Their mission is to reduce health disparities in the community by providing free health services such as vaccine clinics, vaccines free of charge to school districts, health screenings, and sports physicals. With MultiCare’s vaccine truck, they go to places where there is less access to resources.
Vincent continues to serve the community as the First Chair of the Advisory Board at Nourish Pierce County where he volunteered extensively when he was an undergraduate. He is also an active member of UW Tacoma’s Alumni Council and mentors BAHCL students.
In Autumn, Vincent will begin the Master in Health Administration program at UW Seattle. After completing his program, Vincent plans to apply for a fellowship through the American College of Healthcare Executives which is typically a year-long program at one of the sponsoring hospitals in Washington, California, or Oregon. This Fellowship Program is a competitive process that trains postgraduates into leadership roles.
While Vincent continues his journey of service in healthcare administration, he advises the following to students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare:
- develop a growth mindset
- take advantage of your time and build connections from early on while at UW Tacoma
- don’t tell yourself no before someone else tells you no
Would you like to learn more about BAHCL alum, Vincent Da?
Listen to our Podcast: SNHCL Meet & Greet on February 1, 2023!
Providing Beautiful Service and Patient Care
Stefani Nichols worked in media production for many years and knew that it was time for a career change. After a long, grueling, and difficult day at work, she walked into a grocery store and saw a person in scrubs. She asked that person what type of work she did and found out that this individual was a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Stefani asked her how to become a CNA and was given a response that inspired Stefani to quit her job in media production and enroll in a CNA program.
From the very beginning of her CNA program, she knew that she wanted to become a nurse. She started working as a CNA at a skilled nursing facility. It was too fast paced and she did not get to know the patients. She then moved onto home care which she enjoyed since she got to know the patients and help them on a one-to-one basis. While working, she took prerequisite courses to get into an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. She applied to both Tacoma Community College and Pierce College but got rejected by both schools since she did not have enough healthcare experience. However, it turned out for the best because Stefani’s mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly afterwards and Stefani was dedicated to caring for her mother.
Her mother did not understand initially why Stefani wanted to change careers. However, after being taken care of for six months by Stefani, she told her daughter that she finally understood why Stefani had chosen the nursing path because she was good at caring for people. After her mother passed, she reapplied to the ADN program at Pierce College and got accepted. Her mother’s nurse and Stefani’s volunteer work in hospice influenced her to become a hospice nurse.
After she graduated from the ADN program at Pierce College, she got her first job in the medical surgical unit at St. Claire’s Hospital. She met a hospice liaison at St. Claire’s who encouraged her to become a CHI Franciscan hospice nurse and to contact the Hospice Manager. Even before Stefani ended up working there, she shadowed a hospice nurse at CHI Franciscan. Coincidentally, this nurse turned out to be her mother’s former hospice nurse. When Stefani finally started working as a hospice nurse at CHI Franciscan, her team included a social worker and a chaplain who also happened to be the same social worker and chaplain assigned to her mom. She worked at CHI Franciscan for over six years.
Stefani wanted to get her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) back in 2019 and started the application process. However, due to various reasons, she did not start the program.
She is now working at MultiCare as a hospice nurse. She has been there for a year and a half. Stefani loves her job – caring for and getting to know her patients while helping them navigate through emotional issues. She said that hospice nurses need to have a different mindset, “how can they manage the patients’ symptoms so they can die better?” Stefani has found her calling as a hospice nurse.
In addition to MultiCare requiring a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree within three years of hire, Stefani decided now was the right time to pursue UW Tacoma’s BSN degree because she loves school, learning, and wants to further herself. She considers herself a “perpetual student”. Stefani has many ideas of what to do after she obtains her BSN degree in Autumn 2023. She would love to eventually improve the hospice system by creating more places like the Franciscan Hospice House since it provides a more homelike welcoming environment than a hospital and developing additional programs where more hospice care is available for patients at the end of their lives. She would also like to become a hospice nurse educator.
Dr. Christine Stevens
Creating Resources for UW Tacoma Students Through a Professor’s Community-Based Research
Dr. Christine Stevens was a nurse for 25 years before she began teaching at the UW Tacoma's School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership. She worked in the ER during the AIDS crisis as well as did extensive community outreach in California where her love of public health was initiated. She came to Washington State to take care of her elderly parents and defended her doctorate dissertation at the age of 50. The time between her Master’s and PhD solidified her passions and what she wanted to do. Dr. Stevens has been teaching at UW Tacoma since 1996. She said, “it has been one of the best parts of her life.” She loved working in the ER and at the bedside as a nurse but working with students and community-based research has been an unexpected opportunity to positively impact the future of students and the community. Dr. Christine Stevens was also on the team that helped develop the curriculum of the UW Tacoma’s Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Leadership program in 2009.
Associate Professor Stevens’ genuine concern for her students can be seen in and out of the classroom. When her students miss a test or assignment, she sends them a note saying, “I’m worried about you. Are you okay?” She makes sure that she has a personalized conversation with each student and informs them about the services below.
- Food Pantry on campus: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/thepantry
- Emergency Aid: http://www.washington.edu/emergencyaid/
- FREE student counseling: https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/paws/making-appointment
Dr. Stevens’ work focuses on addressing food insecurity and homelessness among college students. She conducted a food insecurity survey of the UW Tacoma student population that showed 36% of students were skipping foods and 18% were experiencing homelessness. Dr. Stevens had a small food bank in her office but wanted to implement something that would be a resource for the entire campus. With the Center of Equity, she started a food pantry at UW Tacoma in 2016 that has continued to expand. She has obtained funding through donations and grants to expand the Food Pantry to meet student needs. Dr. Stevens was also on the team working on the emergency housing program and was selected by the Gates Foundation to explore how emergency aid could keep students in school. Dr. Stevens was part of a team of 100 people across the U.S. that worked on this project for one year that resulted in the Emergency Aid program at UW Tacoma.
Dr. Stevens also explored food insecurity at UW Tacoma’s campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her research found that 33% of students before the pandemic and 46% of students during the pandemic experienced food insecurity. These findings along with her latest research, “Access isn’t Equity” has influenced her work on making the food bank more equitable and accessible. She would like to:
- create a food bank system across campus available 24 hours
- be inclusive with food by bringing in cultural foods such as halal food into the food banks
- get more affordable food options for students and staff
Dr. Christine Stevens volunteers with Nourish Pierce County and got to experience first-hand what they are doing to bring cultural foods to the food banks where the community resides and turning the food banks into a grocery store model. In the future, she would love to replicate what Nourish Pierce County is doing in the community on UW Tacoma’s campus.
Would you like to learn more about Dr. Christine Stevens?
Listen to our Podcast: SNHCL Meet & Greet on February 1, 2023!
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Becoming an Educator and Leader in Nursing
Julie Benson is an alumna of UW Tacoma’s Master of Nursing (MN) program. She is also a member of the School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership’s (SNHCL) clinical faculty and was previously on SNHCL’s advisory board. Julie recognizes that the MN degree from UW Tacoma was a catalyst in helping her move into a faculty position and enabling her to get her post-master ARNP.
Growing up in North Dakota, Julie’s passion for helping people stemmed from assisting her mother who was a home health aide. She has worked as a nurse in many different settings and roles that include being a staff and charge nurse within an inpatient care medical/surgical unit, short stay and neuro/orthopedic units, and an outpatient setting as an office nurse and advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) for 18 years.
In 2002, Julie was practicing as an ARNP and began working as a clinical placement coordinator and clinical instructor at Tacoma Community College (TCC). Julie’s teaching role expanded into becoming a tenured faculty at TCC and eventually the Associate Dean at TCC in 2014. She stepped down from the Associate Dean position as of January 1, 2023 to be a nursing professor at TCC and focus on her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Her specialization in education and leadership supported faculty and staff getting what they needed to provide a quality educational experience for students so that they graduate to be excellent registered nurses (RNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
Driven by her passion for assessment and quality improvement projects, Julie has taken on multiple roles simultaneously that provide her the opportunity to facilitate excellence in nursing. She is a Protem member of the Nursing Care Quality Commission where she participates in educational program reviews and has the opportunity to provide feedback for nursing programs in Washington State. Julie has also done consulting for local nursing programs around program assessment and curriculum. She has been active with the Council of Nurse Educators in Washington State which has allowed her to be engaged and support state initiatives for excellence in nursing. During her tenure as the Associate Dean at TCC, Julie served on the SNHCL’s Advisory Board and is a clinical faculty member. As an advisory board member, Julie provided feedback and input to SNHCL on school curricular and program development needs. As a clinical faculty member and preceptor, she has taken on many UW Tacoma Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Leadership and Master of Nursing students during their fieldwork and practicum experience. She said that this has also been beneficial to TCC because UW Tacoma students provide fresh perspectives on areas such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, curriculum, admissions, and policies. Under the former Associate Dean Benson’s leadership, TCC has provided space for research to be done by UW Tacoma's School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership. Also, she ensured that pathways and articulation agreements such as Early Enrollment and Direct Enrollment existed between TCC and UW Tacoma.
She continues to work with the community in multiple capacities that include serving as a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer within Pierce County, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) site visitor, community garden volunteer, and Medical Teams International volunteer.
Julie Benson is currently pursuing her DNP with a leadership focus and is interested in looking at upstream measures and ways to improve retention and satisfaction of academic nurse leaders.
Would you like to learn more about Julie Benson?
Listen to our Podcast: SNHCL Meet & Greet on February 1, 2023!