By Sara Humphries
Kimberly Parker believes that every nurse commits to lifelong learning since the world of healthcare is always evolving.
Parker began teaching at Reinhardt University as a full-time faculty member at the Cauble School of Nursing & Health Sciences in August 2018. Parker is an assistant professor and clinical coordinator for the nursing program.
"I hope that in all of my classes, I foster a desire to learn. Healthcare is ever-changing, and it is impossible to keep up if a nurse does not have a commitment to lifelong learning. I believe my classes are laying the framework for students to become professional nurses and professional learners."
Parker loves sharing her passion for helping others, especially in community health.
"Community health is my background and I love sharing my passion for taking care of people, where they live and work with my students,” said Parker. “We focus a lot on caring for patients in the hospital. Still, these same patients will go home, and many depend on community health resources to access medications and education. During the community health class, we talk about how many variables increase health vulnerabilities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a lot of real-life experience for Parker’s students studying community health.
“The students have an opportunity to see this firsthand when they complete a community health assessment and spend time in community health settings such as public health departments, schools and home health. Recently, the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has provided some real-time conversations of how the principles of community health impact everyone and how they must be considered when making widespread decisions."
Parker understands the importance of encouraging faculty, as Claire Dyes, the dean of students at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing when she attended, was an instrumental mentor in developing her career.
"I was a joint enrollment student, beginning my full-time nursing education at 17 years old. Claire provided me with support and encouragement and a safe space to be vulnerable. She modeled for me the type of caring mentor I strive to be for all my students.”
For students interested in the nursing field, Parker advises they ask for help. Reinhardt’s nursing faculty also serve to advise and provide guidance and support while prospective student nurses complete the prerequisite process.
"We have resources to help students get the most out of their classes while preparing to apply for the nursing program. I also encourage new students to get involved, whether that be through a church, through a club, on campus or in their hometown, it is never too early to put a desire to serve in action."
Despite its hardships, Parker describes nursing as her calling.
"I love being a nurse. It is difficult work that can be exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally. But it is also a calling, and when you connect with a patient or family member, it makes it all worth it. Nursing is not something that you do; it is something that you are."
When Parker has free time, she loves spending it with her family. Her two daughters, Ellie and Kate, and her husband Chris, keep her busy and entertained.
"We are very active in our school system and our community and participate in lots of fun local events. I recently started working in the Emergency Department at Piedmont Mountainside in Jasper to help my fellow healthcare workers and the people we serve. "
Parker is involved in the Pickens County community as board member on the Family Connection Coalition, founder and member of the School-Based Health Center Planning Committee, CPR instructor, supporter and fundraiser for Ferst Foundation and volunteer coordinator for annual student health physical events.
"I strongly believe that individual wellness is directly related to community wellness. It is an honor to be able to serve my community in a variety of ways, and hopefully continue to improve the overall health of the families that live and play here."