I remember discovering that I had a relatively rare genetic disorder in elementary school and being surprised and confused. As I began researching the disease in high school, I grew more intrigued. There seemed to be so much new and exciting research going on. Still, many questions were left unanswered, making me realize the importance of graduate education to advance my training and better serve those in the communities where I have lived, worked, and studied. Throughout college, I wrote papers on genetic disorders for several undergraduate classes. Since that time, I have never failed to stay abreast of much of the literature on genetic disorders resulting in disabilities of one form or another, significantly as they impact adolescent girls. Fully immersed in my studies, learning the basic science that I needed to understand what had happened to me from a scientific perspective, I did not set my sights on a career in nursing until I was mid-way through my graduate studies at Harvard in Psychology, as a result of my realization that I wanted very much to focus the balance of my professional life on nursing. I see my training in psychology as excellent preparation.
After my junior year, in 2015, I transferred to a more rigorous academic program. My desire to be involved in research ultimately led me to the University of XXXX Medical Center (UXMC). I had the pleasure of working on completing a palliative care mentorship under Dr. XXXX in the Department of Pediatrics, treating children with various needs in Mississippi’s only palliative care program. It was a great pleasure to complete a palliative care mentorship under Dr. XXXX in the Department of Pediatrics, treating children with various types of terminal illnesses. I gained significant experience with research, learning to accurately analyze and synthesize practical concepts to create new ideas with the potential to enhance the mobility of children in wheelchairs. I learned firsthand how ambitious and confronting the nursing process can be, yet also how incredibly fascinating, beautiful, vital, and central to what it is that most makes us human.
My experience at UXMC left me wanting to explore other avenues by which I could acquire additional experience in pediatrics. In December 2016, I joined Dr. XXXX in the Center for Advancement of Youth as a volunteer research assistant. This student-driven research program allowed me to integrate my interests in pediatrics and treatment-related research with my long-held fascination with parent-child interactions, ultimately co-authoring a book chapter of a case study of a child with autism who graduated from a parent-child interaction therapy program. The semester turned out to be one of the richest experiences I have ever had, and I was able to help the volunteer research assistant program grow. I spent innumerable hours pouring over articles, comparing various measures, rewriting the literature review, exploring new ways to score specific questionnaires, and analyzing all the SPSS and Microsoft Excel data-loving every minute. I came out of the program with purpose, pride, and a strong desire to do more clinical research.
After graduation from college, I sought a position as a project coordinator with the Department of Psychology at the Children’s Cancer Clinic at the UXMC under Dr. XXXX. Our work on the cognitive perception of acute versus chronic pain has vastly increased my interest in pediatric pain, especially in disadvantaged populations. I was also given the unique opportunity to gain invaluable clinical experience that has continued in my time since graduation. In the spring of 2018, under Dr. XXXX, I co-authored a paper examining post-chemotherapy obesity in pediatric cancer patients in a state-wide sample of children. In my current role as project coordinator for Dr. XXXX, I developed a deep interest and empathy for individuals with ADHD, Autism, and other, often quite severe, presentations of developmental disorders.
In the future, I hope to conduct clinical research to understand better and treat pain psychopathologies and genetic disorders. More specifically, I am interested in less viable symptoms (e.g., pain perception deficits and emotion dysregulation) and their presentation in under-researched populations, including girls, young adults, and high-IQ individuals. I look forward to a whole immersion experience exploring the efficacy and application of multimodal treatment methods, especially those incorporating mindfulness, exercise, and behavioral psychology. Working simultaneously in research and clinical settings has helped me appreciate the value of bench-to-bedside perspectives. I hope to include both research and clinical practice in my nursing.
Furthermore, I look forward to many years of working with and studying those who experience chronic pain or transition from regular to pain due to a disability or genetic disorder. Pain is known to be correlated with many mental health disorders, so teaching adolescents to manage pain through positive coping strategies best is essential. I can bring critically important life experience to the program and the patients.. My central, long-term research area focuses on those who experience chronic pain due to a disability and genetic disorder, especially adolescent females. I want to be able to intervene before negative coping strategies result in mental health concerns, such as anxiety or depression. I would be incredibly honored to work with any faculty involved with the XXXX Center for Orphan Disease Research.
Ultimately, I hope to continue my studies as an FNP and eventually earn a doctoral degree.
I thank you for your time and consideration.