Alumni Profile: Emily Drake, PhD, RN, CNL
VCU Nursing PhD alumna Dr. Emily Drake (Class of 2005) received the Award of Excellence in Education from the American Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) at the group’s annual convention in June. An associate professor in the School of Nursing at UVA, Drake was recognized for her creative approach to teaching. Though she has no training in theatre, Drake brings drama into the classroom when she appears as Postpartum Polly – a stressed out new mother with curlers in her hair, wearing a bathrobe and carrying a baby. The inspiration for this character came from an article that Drake read in a nursing journal, but Drake has completely brought her to life and students look forward to the appearance of Postpartum Polly each semester.
While an undergrad in the arts and sciences at UVA Drake decided to try nursing and was sure she made the right decision when she began her labor and delivery rotation. She worked as a labor and delivery nurse for ten years prior to joining the faculty and has now been with the UVA School of Nursing for 20 years. Drake loves the flexibility that nursing has offered her throughout her career – from working full time and going to school for her master’s and later her PhD, to the juggling of night and weekend shifts so she could be home during the day with her two children, to teaching nursing students and conducting research on postpartum depression and traveling for the speaking engagements.
Of her time at the VCU School of Nursing Drake says “I feel so lucky. The PhD program was challenging, but rewarding. Earning my PhD at VCU changed my life. I wasn’t the same person when I finished that I was when I first came there (Before the PhD, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know!)And I met so many amazing people at VCU: faculty experts, student colleagues and friends for life! I am forever grateful. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the degree from VCU.”
Drake volunteers for the Charlottesville Children, Youth and Family Services, the Virginia March of Dimes, and has been appointed to the State Health Commissioner’s Work Group on Infant Mortality. She was inducted into the local March of Dimes “Volunteer Hall of Fame.” She has served on the national board of AWHONN, is an active member of the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau International and is a member of the International Lactation Consultants Association. In addition to teaching, she has been certified as a lactation consultant, an in-patient obstetrics expert and a clinical nurse leader.