"Earning the highest degree attainable, the Ph.D. was one of my greatest experiences. It has provided me with many opportunities since graduating."
Chair, Adult & Family Nursing at Stony Brook University
President, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
Defense Health Board and Medical Ethics Subcommittee Member
After completing her Ph.D. in Nursing in 1990, Dr. Dumas began teaching at SUNY Stony Brook and working part-time at a VA Hospital in primary care, as a nurse practitioner (NP). More than 20 years earlier, her career had begun in a Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Dr. Dumas has used her varied experiences in healthcare to supplement her interests in military healthcare, family well-being, and the increasing role of nurses and nurse practitioners.
She is the President of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and has received numerous awards for her service and research, including the 2007 Elizabeth Russell Belford Award for Excellence in Education, a Founders Award, awarded by Sigma Theta Tau International, the 2001 Sharp Cutting Edge Award, awarded by American College of Nurse Practitioners, the 1996 Outstanding NP Educator Award, awarded by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and 1996 Excellence in Teaching Awards by both the Chancellor of the SUNY system, and the President of Stony Brook University. She has also been selected for prestigious fellowships in 2005, by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and the 2003 Department of Health and Human Services, Primary Health Policy Fellowship. Dr. Dumas was recently appointed by President George W. Bush to the Medical Ethics Subcommittee of the Defense Health Board (a civilian board that oversees healthcare in the United States military and directly reports to the US Secretary of Defense).
An avid collector of nursing memorabilia and equipment, her collection includes letters written by and photographs of Florence Nightingale, nurses’ chatelaines and other historical nursing memorabilia. Dr. Dumas has three children, and enjoys hiking, reading, and scuba diving in her spare time.
When and why did you first want to become a nurse?
I grew up one of seven children, and I was always helping care for younger brothers and sisters, and I believe that the caring aspect of nursing came naturally to me. I decided to become a nurse, a Navy Nurse, during the Vietnam War. I felt compelled to become part of the health care team that provided care to our young men and women were serving their country, many who would make the “ultimate sacrifice.” A belief in something bigger than myself, to provide the highest levels of care to those serving our country, led me to nursing.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in 1970, I joined the U.S. Navy and spent five years as a Navy Nurse Corps officer. After being released from active duty, my husband and I returned to the east coast from California. I enrolled in an 86 credit, pioneering master’s degree program at Stony Brook, to become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). My first nurse practitioner position was in the Adelphi University-Molloy College Nursing Health Center, in Freeport, NY, funded by Robert Wood Johnson, in 1977. I’ve worked in several settings as an FNP, however, for the past 20 years, I’ve maintained a clinical practice in primary care at the Northport Veteran’s Medical Center. In 1981 I was accepted to Adelphi’s Ph.D. program. I always loved learning, and have striven for excellence in my professional life. My faculty position at Stony Brook began on the day of my oral defense. Dean Lenora McClean’s invitation to meet with her, “about my future,” ultimately continued our professional relationship, which began in 1975 when she accepted me into her pioneering class of NP students to present day as one of her faculty. I think of myself as an NP educator. My students include my patients and their families, and NP students. I have the best of both worlds.clinical practice and NP educator.
Who were your favorite faculty and class (this was the question you asked), and what are your favorite memories of your time at Adelphi?
- My favorite professors were Irene Pagel, Roberta Abruzzezi and Steven Greenfield. My favorite class was Professor Greenfield’s philosophy and critical thinking class.
- There are three memories that come to mind:
- Earning the highest degree attainable, the Ph.D. was one of my greatest experiences. It has provided me with many opportunities since graduating.
- Six of us and our families celebrated our passing our candidacy exam
- Being hooded at graduation by the President of the University before the entire University.
- I also have enjoyed the process of performing my doctoral research on the needs of new fathers, a topic that wasn’t discussed back then.
What are some of the changes you have seen in nursing through the years?
The equipment has dramatically changed. Disposable equipment didn’t exist. I remember using a flashlight to look at the wounds of the wounded marines, marking their dressings to evaluate their wounds as a Navy nurse. I also remember how overwhelmed and appreciative young marines were when I remembered their names. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Learning is life long. Always strive for excellence, learning something new every day. Never be overconfident, and if you make a medical error, admit it immediately, so the damage/adverse effects can be minimized. We are in the business of taking care of people, and the stakes are high.
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