Compassion and Community: Rutgers–Camden DNP Student Earns Carpenter Community Nursing Fellowship

By Ed Moorhouse

Kim Geria is a 2016 Carpenter Community Nursing Fellow.

Kim Geria is a 2016 Carpenter Community Nursing Fellow.

If Kim Geria has one trait that stands out, it’s compassion.

Whether she’s providing care for older adults, or helping Camden youth make healthier choices, the Rutgers University–Camden doctoral student sees the big picture. Geria is dedicated to improving healthcare for an entire community, and as a nurse, she sees the value in making a personal connection to each one of her patients.

“I like to help people. I like to make them feel better, and to contribute to their overall well-being. That’s always something that I wanted to do,” says Geria, a Longport resident.

Geria has been recognized as a future leader in community nursing by the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC), which chose her as a Carpenter Community Nursing Fellow for 2016. The fellowship is sponsored by the NNCC and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and it provides current and recently graduated nursing students the education, leadership training, and mentoring opportunities that help build the skills necessary to assume a greater role in community-based care.

“The fact that I’ve been identified as a leader in the nursing community is a huge honor and it’s a huge responsibility,” Geria says. “Having that support from your peers is very humbling.”

Out of 80 applicants, 12 nursing students were selected as Carpenter Fellows. By the end of the semester-long program, fellows gain a better understanding of career opportunities available for nurses outside of traditional settings and increase their leadership potential in a workplace setting.

Geria takes a lot of pride in mentoring younger students. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Rutgers–Camden in 2008, and after six years as a trauma nurse at Cooper University Hospital and a long-term acute care nurse at Acuity Specialty Hospital of New Jersey, she decided to advance her nursing education by returning to the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden for her doctor of nursing practice degree.

As a DNP student, Geria had a chance to teach undergraduate students in Rutgers–Camden’s health assessment labs, and for a capstone research project, she’s working with high school students at the LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden on a diabetes prevention program that promotes healthier choices.

“The students have shown improvements in self efficacy, physical activity, and healthy eating behaviors,” Geria says of the 101 LEAP students that are part of her project. “We talk a lot about health risks and poor decision making and I’m really excited to be able to help these students and give them the knowledge to make healthier decisions.”

On Wednesday, May 18, Geria will graduate as a member of the first cohort of students to earn a doctor of nursing practice degree from the Rutgers–Camden. Despite having already started following a successful career path after graduating in 2008, returning to Rutgers–Camden to pursue her DNP was an easy decision.

“I feel like I needed a change and I wanted to be able to contribute more to the population,” Geria says. “I wanted to learn more about the research component and learn about how I could impact the whole community, aside from the community that I was serving within the hospital.”

Geria is following the adult gerontology track in the Rutgers–Camden DNP program and says she eventually wants to practice in a primary care clinic while doing more community health research.

“I want to be able to sit down and talk to my patients and build a relationship with them,” she says. “I want to specifically focus on the populations that are in need of the most care, which are older adults. The whole idea of preventing hospital stays and improving the health of the overall population is very appealing to me.”

Geria continues, “It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get to this point, but I’m grateful for every opportunity. Every student is different, but the more experience you can get as a nurse, the better. It makes you a better nurse in the long run.”

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