Fuld Fellows: Changing the face of nursing

After graduating with a degree in psychology, Jordan Bell ’99C traveled to Southern Nepal to volunteer with the Women’s Health Initiative, to Eastern Turkey to produce an independent documentary on the Kurdish population, and to Macedonia to teach at an international school.

During her travels, she encountered a small boy with a severely infected dog bite on his arm.

“It looked really bad. I asked the people I was with, ‘Can we take him to a doctor?’ and they said, ‘No, a doctor is too far away and too expensive.’ And I thought, ‘If we even just had an antibiotic. . . . ’ I realized there was something I wasn’t able to give.”

Bell, who describes herself as someone who “tends to see possibilities,” didn’t like feeling helpless. When, during a return visit to Atlanta, one of her former Emory professors told Bell about the Fuld fellowships at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, she saw the chance to combine social activism and international health by pursuing a master’s degree in nursing.

Bell is one of twelve fellows currently in the Fuld Leadership Program, which enables students who have degrees in other fields to become nursing leaders and scholars. The program is funded with $5 million from the Helene Fuld Health Trust–the largest single gift in the School of Nursing’s history.

The fellowship funds three years of schooling for students who earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. The first two Fuld fellows, Kelly Moynes and Emilé Crosa, began the master’s portion of the program this fall. All of the fellows have bachelor’s degrees (and several, master’s degrees) in disciplines ranging from microbiology to Asian studies, and many had previous careers.

“The expectation,” says Assistant Professor of Nursing Ann Connor, the fellows’ faculty mentor, “is that they’re going to change the profession of nursing. They’re already changing the school. With the diversity of their backgrounds, they are coloring the water in marvelous ways.”

A well-traveled group, Fuld fellows have visited Cuba, Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Korea to study health care systems abroad. They also assisted the Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing in hosting the 2004 Global Nursing Partnership Conference in Atlanta.

The fellows participate in community outreach activities, such as Café 458, an upscale restaurant for the homeless; MedShare International, which collects and recycles surplus medical supplies and equipment for other countries; Joe’s Place, which offers a foot-care clinic for the homeless; Project Open Hand, which provides meals and nutrition services to people with HIV/AIDS, homebound seniors, and others with illnesses or disabilities; and the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement agency.

“Nurses have this unique role they can play in the community,” says Laura Rainer, whose undergraduate degree is from Auburn University in microbiology and who will receive dual master’s degrees in nursing and public health in 2006. “They care for people, and people trust them.”

Rainer, who is fluent in Spanish, and several other fellows participated in the Migrant Farm Worker Health Program, which provides services to a thousand migrant workers in south Georgia each summer.

Fellows are encouraged to study public health policy with the goal of becoming political advocates as well as nurse practitioners. As much as the fellows acknowledge the importance of influencing change at the highest levels, they remain eager to provide the direct, hands-on care.

“When I was a teenager, I saw a homeless girl about my age on the streets, completely emaciated,” says Moynes. “I am confident that the world can be a healthier place, and that anger can provide the fuel for change.”–M.J.L.



© 2005 Emory University