I am originally from Marysville, Ohio and started my nursing career in an ambulatory care center at a small county hospital. While working in the ambulatory care center, I had the opportunity to be involved in many areas of nursing, but found my true love was gastroenterology/endoscopy and surgery. In 2006, I graduated from the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Southern Indiana and planned to remain on as an NP with a gastroenterology group in Columbus, Ohio. However, my husband was offered a career opportunity in Brentwood, Tennessee and within a matter of months, we relocated south. As fate would have it, the only NP position at Vanderbilt was within the colorectal surgery service, which in retrospect was a natural career transition.
For the past 11 years, I have enjoyed working within the colorectal surgery service as an inpatient/outpatient NP from 2006-2009. In 2010, Dr. Alan Herline gave me an amazing opportunity to become a billing provider and establish the benign anal rectal clinic. While a challenging endeavor, this opportunity has afforded me the ability to manage/treat my own conglomeration of patients and has been an incredible journey thus far. Patients with benign issues such as hemorrhoids, fissures, abscesses, fistulas, pruritis, fecal incontinence, condylomas, and precancerous lesions are seen within this clinic and are managed conservatively unless surgical intervention is indicated. Conservative measures may involve medications, lifestyle/ behavior changes, and/or procedures such as anoscopy, rubber band ligation, incision and drainage, drain placements and removals, and TCA 80% application.
As the benign anal rectal clinic evolved, I found that I especially enjoyed providing care to patients that were at high-risk for anal cancer. I also realized that this select population as well as many healthcare providers had minimal education regarding the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a known precursor to anal cancer. As a result, I found a new passion for anal cancer prevention and in 2016, I completed my Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Southern Indiana with a concentration on HPV education and anal cancer prevention.
Since completion of my DNP, many wonderful opportunities have presented themselves such as participating in the sexual medicine course, partnering with LGBTI Health at Vanderbilt, educating freshman athletes, being a part of the HPV working group and the upcoming transgender clinic, being involved in two research projects, and publishing articles. Further professional accomplishments of which I am most proud are the upcoming institution of anal pap cytology to HIV negative patients in the benign anal rectal clinic and the creation of a colorectal surgery advanced practice nurse practitioner fellowship, which will be the only existing program in the United States to date.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family, gardening, canning, baking, and Zumba. I am also an avid fan of SEC basketball and during basketball season, my schedule is centered around the Kentucky Wild Cats and South Carolina Game Cocks game schedules. I am also a huge fan of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.