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Two College of Nursing professors receive funding to take their work global

Courtesy Kimberly Shea

University of Arizona College of Nursing professors Jane Carrington and Kimberly Shea were awarded an opportunity to further their research and careers in becoming global ambassadors. 

Last December they received an email informing them that they had been accepted into the Fulbright Specialist Program, a competitive program that allows them to share their knowledge with institutions around the world. 

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Carrington is a 2008 UA College of Nursing graduate, whose focus is on informatics and healthcare technology. Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, she is currently leading a research team on improving communication between nurses to increase patient safety. 

However, despite her many contributions in this field, Carrington said she was greatly surprised she made it to the Fulbright Specialist Roster. 

“I didn’t have a great deal of confidence that I would make it through the review process,” Carrington said. “It had been months, and I thought, well, I must [have] not gotten it and to let it go. To have gotten it, I was absolutely surprised. I’m obviously very thrilled and honored.” 

Carrington was given information about the program by a university in Australia she was collaborating with and applied on a whim, because “Why not?” According to Carrington, the application essays went through a series of peer reviews online that determined if she was “expert enough.”

Her colleague, Shea, is a nurse and scientist whose research focuses on telehealthcare in patient’s homes. She has researched the topic for a little over a decade and travelled to many places in Central America, applying and assessing telehealth opportunities. 

Even with 25 years of nursing experience, Shea was also surprised she was accepted into the program.

“I didn’t have any idea that they would consider my application,” Shea said. “Throughout my nursing career, I had been a community health nurse, a nurse abroad and a Ph.D. in telehealth. I feel like the Fulbright is like the culmination of all of those things that I have been doing, and it’s come together.” 

Shea had first intended to apply to the Fulbright Scholar Program but said she is glad to have become a specialist. 

“It means a lot to me, because as a nurse, when I was seeing patients, I’m very community minded and I always wanted to build a relationship so that people could realize that healthcare is beneficial for them,” Shea said.

Carrington said she looks forward to not only providing her expertise, but also to using this chance to learn how other cultures infuse technology into their healthcare.

“I’m very humbled by this, because I’ve never believed that the US has done it the only way it can be done. I’ve always believed that other countries’ cultures have their way of doing it that we could learn from,” Carrignton said.

She also mentioned she thinks this experience will be a defining moment in her career.

“I’m just beginning to set foot in the global arena, and this opportunity, I think, will strengthen that,”  Carrington said. “Anything that I can do to serve as an ambassador for the U of A and the College of Nursing is absolutely a highlight for me. So I look forward to being able to serve in that role.”

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Both Carrington and Shea mentioned that this opportunity will not only help impact their career, their research and the world, but their inner community as well, since they are some of the first nurses to have made it to the roster. 

“I worked with some incredible colleagues in the College of Nursing who also have great expertise, and maybe this might inspire them to apply and see if they can get on this roster and serve in this way,” Carrington said.

Shea echoed feelings of a bright future for her colleagues in the college.

“We have so many experts at the College of Nursing and so many areas that could benefit the world that hopefully more people that want to travel, that want to go abroad … will apply and we’ll be able to grow nursing capabilities throughout the world,” Shea said.

Follow Mekayla Phan on Twitter 

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