Hometown: Danbury, Conn.
WCSU Degree: Master of Science, Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
Internships: An internship last fall consisted of working with the Cardiovascular Service Line Educator at St. Vincent's Hospital in Bridgeport. "We focused on providing staff education on novel cardiac interventional procedures, reviewing policies and streamlining the orientation program for new nurses." A current internship is working with the Palliative Care APRN at Danbury Hospital providing end-of-life care, symptom management, family support and staff and family education on care of the dying patient.
Activities: Work full time at Danbury Hospital as the assistant nurse manager of the Telemetry, Outpatient Observation and Cardiac Cath Recovery Units, membership chair of the Western CT Chapter of the American Association of Criticalcare Nurses, member of the Cultural Diversity Grand Rounds Team at Danbury Hospital
Honors and Awards: GPA of 3.67 or greater, inducted into the International Nursing Honor Society Sigma Theta Tau last spring, recipient of a WCSU Foundation Scholarship as well as the Mario Mesi New Beginnings Scholarship
Bernadene Lawrence-Phillip completed her undergraduate studies at SUNY Stony Brook in Long Island, N.Y., and returned to graduate school at Western after working for almost eight years as a nurse. "I have attended WCSU since spring 2009," she says. "I decided to come here because I saw the caliber of nurses they graduated in my job at Danbury Hospital, which employs many new graduates from the university. It was also affordable and conveniently located — as I am also a full-time parent and cannot travel too far to attend school."
Lawrence-Phillip says she decided to pursue the Clinical Nurse Specialist track because she was "not very interested in primary care, but I was very interested in helping nurses improve their care of patients through continuing education as well as teaching them how to incorporate evidence-based practices in their care to improve patient outcomes. I also want to use the CNS role to assist patients in becoming empowered and proactive in their own care and partnering with them to manage their illness as an educator."
Like most WCSU graduates, Lawrence-Phillip has a lot to say about the faculty she encountered as a student. "I am proud to say that Professor of Nursing Dr. Laurel Halloran and Assistant Professor Monica Sousa have become more than teachers to me. They have been my biggest cheerleaders and have inspired me to give this program my all."
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Lawrence-Phillip says, "My most memorable experience at WCSU was opening my mail and receiving a letter stating I had received a WCSU Foundation Scholarship when I thought I had applied too late. All because of the great efforts of the nursing department."
After graduation, Lawrence-Phillip plans to obtain certification as an adult health clinical nurse specialist. "I then hope to secure a position as a nurse educator with a focus on staff development and heart failure patient management as a clinical instructor."
Lawrence-Phillip’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Never let fear be your co-pilot. I allowed fear of failure to travel with me for many years, keeping me from pursuing my dream of obtaining a master's degree. 'You can never fail if you never try' was my motto. But every failure is another opportunity to be better than the last time around."