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Nancy Wells, DNSc, RN, FAAN


Director, Nursing Research

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

     When I arrived at Vanderbilt in 1992 – yes that was 25 years ago – I had not stayed in 1 city for more than 4 years after graduating from college. Clearly, I had found my home. Vanderbilt has afforded me incredible opportunities to follow my own research passion, collaborate with others, and most importantly to work with many wonderful staff nurses. Working with staff as they pass through my office, the fellowship and other programs designed to help them understand and use research to improve their practice has been a highlight of my career. I also treasure the doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows I have had the opportunity to guide and mentor. As I reflect on my time as a nurse scientist and mentor, I realize that I love to see the light bulb go on and the passion for scholarship ignite. I want to thank each of you who has touched my life and allowed me to be the catalyst.

-Nancy Wells

Dr. Nancy Wells is the nurse, second only to my mother, that has had the greatest impact on guiding my nursing career.  Her encouragement  and support are behind all of my professional accomplishments.  I will always be grateful for her influence and friendship. 

 –Traci Denton

Nancy epitomizes the highest level of a transformational nurse leader because of the level of investment and the degree of talent that she carries in all of her professional and work interactions. There is a subtle difference between a leader than empowers others and a leader that develops others; however Nancy has married the two: she is a leader that both empowers and develops those that get the privilege of learning from her.  She has changed the landscape of nursing with her compassion, her commitment and her wisdom. We stand on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us; and the field of nursing owes a special honor to this incredible Nurse giant. 

We love you, Nancy! 
-Summer Fitts

Nancy is a truly remarkable lady with many gifts. She is an amazing teacher and mentor in recognizing a person’s strengths and helping them realize that strength for the person’s individual growth.   

As a somewhat shy very reluctant nurse I attended the EBP fellowship and experienced this first hand.  She taught me how to ask why? And how to work through a problem and where to search for answers.

As an individual and professional nurse I have grown and reach goals I had only dreamed about.  She is a very gifted special lady/nurse and  I am  proud to have been mentored by, and served alongside her. I’m lucky to call her friend.  

Thank you Nancy

- Mary Downey

Nancy has the ability to strike a match, lighting the fire of curiosity and inquiry with those she meets.  I was exploring returning to school for my doctoral degree when I began working for Nancy. She was of course very interested so I began bringing in information on the schools I was considering. After about 3 months I told Nancy I had made a decision and was going to attend UNW. She looked at me perplexed-“UNW, did we talk about that one?” I responded, “It is the university of Nancy Wells! I am learning so much from working with you, I think my time would be better spent for now just focusing on  learning from you!” I have not regretted that decision.

- Elizabeth Card

Nancy has influenced and helped make positive changes in so many nurses in their career paths. I am one of them. I granted Nursing research knowledge from her Evidence Base Nursing Research program and became an experience research nurse. I also admire and enjoy Nancy’s leadership style. She listens. She is respectful. She shares her knowledge. I am so lucky to have been associated with Nancy over the last five years.  

-Julia Yao

Nancy has been a key influence in the development of a career ladder program for Vanderbilt nurses (VPNPP). She helped lay the groundwork and continues to have input to constantly improve that program in order to advance nurses.  

- Gloria Wacks

Nancy is such an amazing lady. My very first year hear at vanderbilt I attended the EBP fellowship for a year. It was wonderful to have her as a mentor and leader. She is a true pillar here at vanderbilt and will truely be missed. Thank you for all your hard work Nancy. You will be missed.

- Danica Ninkovic 

It's an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to learn from Nancy through my Evidence-Base Nursing fellowship class and being part of the nursing research committee.  Nancy translate complex research concepts to simple terms in a way I can understand.  An extraordinary talent and expertise of her field delivered with such simplicity and some humor.  

Happy retirement Nancy! 
- Glendyle Levinskas

Dr. Wells,  I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your significant role in my nursing profession.  Thank you very much for imparting knowledge and great skills that have helped brighten my career and my professional journey. You are such an excellent leader, very resourceful, understanding, above all so HUMBLE.  I will forever cherish the opportunity of knowing you.  Enjoy your retirement in good health and wealth.

- Wura Adesinasi RN RNFA FNP-BC