Debra Fuller, MSN, RN, CCRN, teaches NR-325 Adult Health II at Chamberlain’s Phoenix campus.
What drew you to critical care and adult health?
My curiousity and need for variety. I am always asking ‘why’ – critical care is the perfect environment to learn in.
Describe your work experience.
I have been an RN for 26 years, and a nurse extern for 1 ½ years prior to that. I began my career in the critical care/ED/flight nursing arena. From there, I moved up the ladder to management and leadership roles in hospitals. With the upward movement, I returned to school and fell in love with learning all over again. That stimulated me to branch out to healthcare consulting, professional regulation and my favorite love – teaching. I have been teaching in academia since 1997. Through it all, I have kept my clinical skills up-to-date, which I believe makes me a better educator.
For you, what is the best part of that specialty? What is the biggest challenge?
The best part is rarely knowing what to expect next. I thrive in an environment full of questions, and having an answer before I know what the question is. In turn, that is the biggest challenge in critical care, too – you have to be ready for anything at any given moment. There is no opportunity for mistakes, so I must always be alert.
Throughout your career, has there been a patient or a story that has stuck with you?
So, so many of them. I have dealt with death and dying on pretty much a daily basis in my specialty. From those experiences, I have become ever so passionate about advocacy for my patients and doing everything within my power to honor their wishes. This has resulted in many priceless, rewarding relationships with patients and their families through the dying process; as well, it has resulted in many heart-breaking memories when patients’ wishes are not honored.
I am channeling my passion for death with dignity in my dissertation; I am researching whether critical care nurses’ attitudes and beliefs toward dying and end-of-life impact the care they render to their patients who are at the end of life. As for my students, the most rewarding stories are from those that share with me what a difference I made in their education and how they learned from my personal stories with patients – I love seeing the world through my students’ eyes.
What would you say you’ve been most proud of in your career?
Making a difference in my patients’ critical care experience and in my students’ educational journey.
What is your advice to students?
Every day as a nurse you will touch someone’s life or someone’s life will touch yours.