Throughout the last ten years, Tennessee Wesleyan College’s Fort Sanders Nursing Department has graduated more than 400 nurses whose TWC education has prepared them for lives of significance, leadership, and service through a quality baccalaureate nursing education.

Susan Blaine and Karee White joined the ranks of Tennessee Wesleyan Nursing Alumni this past May when they graduated with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduating among the top of their class, Blaine and White chose to continue their nursing educations, entering into doctorate nursing programs at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

One out of two recipients of UT’s Chancellor’s Honors Scholarship for the College of Nursing, Blaine has chosen to follow a PhD research path in her nursing career, hoping to use her research to publish for the profession of nursing.

“I’ve always loved to teach,” said Blaine, who wants to teach at the collegiate level and possibly transition into administration. “I know there are gaps in the nursing literature, just from my exposure to the literature in the BSN program. The body of research available for nursing is not as extensive as it is for doctors. That’s why that’s of interest to me. I want to contribute to that body of knowledge.”

While Blaine’s professional goals are to contribute to the nursing profession through research, White’s passion is direct patient care.

“I’m very much a people person, I love patient interaction,” said White, one of three summer students in UT’s new Doctorate in Nursing Practice program. “Nursing is a gift, it’s definitely a calling. Early on I felt that calling and I think Susan did as well. I believe that it’s important to serve others and I feel that through nursing, it’s the best way I can serve.”

Blaine plans to focus her research on female victims of domestic violence and abuse, and sees the differences between her and White’s application of their nursing educations as two sides to the same coin.

“Karee’s going through the front door, providing direct patient care,” said Blaine. “I can help patients behind-the-scenes with research. Nursing is an easy way to stay in touch with people and to give back, to help other people. Even though I’m doing the research and administrative side, there is no better feeling than to leave a clinical site at the end of the day and know that some of the things that you did that day are going to help the patient have a better outcome. That makes it all worth it.”

Blaine and White have chosen to continue their nursing educations because they believe the more exposure they have to the research and educational spectrum of nursing, the stronger impact they will have in their professional nursing roles.

“You’ll definitely see the best practice in nurses with higher educations,” said White, who hopes to one day work in a rural community with under-privileged patients or in a hospital setting.

“The big challenge today is that nurses are so busy with their patient loads, frequently they don’t take that extra time to look into research, so they’re not delivering the best patient care that they could through evidence-based practices.”

As they prepare for the next three to four years in their doctorate programs, Blaine and White are appreciative of their Tennessee Wesleyan baccalaureate experience.

“I am so grateful to TWC,” said White. “The education was superb. The professors and instructors were very knowledgeable and personable. It’s an educational experience I know I won’t find anywhere else.”

For Blaine, the college’s reputation in the East Tennessee community is what solidified her decision to enroll in Tennessee Wesleyan’s nursing program.

“I asked physicians where the best nurses came from and they told me I needed to go talk to Tennessee Wesleyan,” said Blaine.

“I found out they were right. The education I got at Tennessee Wesleyan was second to none. There is no better program. The clinical experiences that we received at TWC were invaluable. I really feel that you can’t place a value on a Tennessee Wesleyan education. No matter how many additional degrees I receive from other institutions, TWC will always be my home.”