Dr. Marcia Barnes always intended to become an educator. Growing up, she idolized her two great aunts who both had long careers as educators and were able to do so by the help of their eldest brother who worked to put them through school at Peabody College. “I commend him in knowing the importance of getting an education even then,” said Dr. Barnes.
As Dr. Barnes began her time at Western Kentucky University as a history major, she saw herself following in her role models footsteps and eventually teaching as a college professor. When she was placed as a receptionist in a local hospital for a work-study program, to her surprise, the view of her future changed in an instant. “I was amazed, impressed, and enthralled by the health care providers,” said Dr. Barnes. “When I returned to school in the fall, I applied and was accepted into the nursing program and started nursing school that January. The rest is history.”
Dr. Barnes completed her Associate of Nursing at WKU, then continued her studies at Tennessee State University, graduating with her Bachelor of Nursing in 1996. She received her Masters of Nursing at Vanderbilt University in 1998 and began her career as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at Vanderbilt Medical Center. In pursuit of furthering her education and love of caring for others, Dr. Barnes enrolled in the first class of the Doctor of Nursing Program at Vanderbilt University and graduated in 2010.
Dr. Barnes practiced in many different hospital settings, ranging from ICU to clinical research, but found her place in the specialty of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Wound Care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “This is where my passion lies,” said Dr. Barnes. “It’s a great experience being a part of seeing patients’ lives transformed and restored to normalcy after trauma, cancer, and congenital deformities.” When she wasn’t in her day to day practice, Dr. Barnes traveled nationally and internationally lecturing on plastic surgery and wound care, and was published in multiple national nursing publications.
After obtaining her doctorate, Dr. Barnes wanted to give back to the nursing profession in the best way she knew how: education. In 2011, she began teaching as an adjunct professor in the Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions. “Teaching students at CU is going back to my original goal in life; to be an educator,” said Dr. Barnes. “It has been great to be able to combine my two passions and serve others in a different way.”
Being able to teach aspiring nurses about the profession she fell in love with has been a continuously rewarding experience for Dr. Barnes over the past nine years. “Seeing the ‘light’ come on when nursing makes sense to my students is the best part about my job,” said Dr. Barnes. “I like being challenged and some students are very good at critical thinking and able to challenge me all too often. I thrive on that energy and it only motivates me that much more to help these students reach their dream of becoming a nurse.”
Dr. Barnes’s life goals came full circle when she became a nursing professor at CU, combining her two passions for serving others. When teaching future nurses, she always reminds them of the key to being impactful within their careers. “Always be professional, ethical, and honest and respect the great profession of nursing and provide care to each patient as if they are a member of your own family.”
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