Adele Webb, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN, serves as the Executive Dean of Healthcare Initiatives at Strategic Enterprises, Inc. In her submission, Dr. Webb describes her path in the profession and her experiences with an earlier epidemic.
My journey into nursing was not the typical - out of high school to nursing school story. I had been married for 11 years and had three children - 9, 7 and 5 when I started school. I knew I wanted to be a nurse from the time I started taking care of my grandmother when she was bed bound from chronic illness. I also knew I couldn't afford nursing school - so as my life went on - I waited.
I started in a diploma program but soon realized that I need to get that college degree. Therefore, after one semester I transferred to the University of Akron. I graduated from Akron, Summa Cum Laude, in January of 1984. Upon graduating, I started working at a children's hospital in the NICU. Eventually I transferred to the ED. As the HIV epidemic emerged, I became extremely interested in the data that revealed that some nurses were refusing to care out of fear. A chance encounter with an infected child left me yearning for more experience and involvement in the epidemic.
As the area where I lived did not have many cases of HIV in children, I relocated to a major city where the numbers were more significant. There, I worked in the HIV clinic and began teaching in a local nursing program about HIV. Over time, I became involved in a professional organization that eventually led me to the World Health Organization. Working within the parameters of a grant, I began international involvement - teaching nurses in underdeveloped countries about HIV - trying to not only educate, but also to alleviate fear.
Since that time, I have worked in over 50 countries - not just in HIV but now in non-communicable diseases. I continue to teach nurses around the globe about care and treatment of patients with not only HIV but also with chronic diseases. As over time I had pursued graduate degrees, I also began not just teaching at universities but also serving as Dean, President and finally Executive Dean. I feel so blessed to continue to serve peers, colleagues, students and others as we work towards the improvement of health around the world. Not everyone is able to find the place where they feel they are making an impact. Nursing helped me find mine!