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In celebration of Nurses Week 2020, VCU School of Nursing is sharing each day why students chose to pursue a career or advance their knowledge in the most trusted profession on earth.

Meet Ph.D. student Stephanie Buxhoeveden, M.S.N., MSCN, FNP-BC, a nurse practitioner who specializes in treating multiple sclerosis patients.

Q. What do you love about nursing?

A. I was drawn to nursing because it allowed me to blend my passion for science, with my desire to help people through the most vulnerable times in their lives. Early in my career as a Neurosurgical ICU nurse, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which is an incurable neurodegenerative disease. That is when nursing went from a career that I loved, to my true passion and calling in life. I finished my Master’s in Nursing, and worked as a nurse practitioner in an MS comprehensive care center, where I treated about 1,000 MS patients. Nursing is a profession that values the autonomy of patients, believes in shared decision making, and cares not only for the whole person, but their families as well. There is nothing more sacred than the relationship between patients and health care providers, and I strongly believe that my personal experiences as a patient, and strong humanitarian and scientific nursing foundation has allowed me to take better care of patients. It is such an honor to be part of such a compassionate, intelligent, and diverse group of professionals. Nurses work in many different specialties and settings, which makes it a particularly exciting field. You never stop learning, and have the ability to follow your passion, wherever that may lead.

Q. Why are you pursuing a Ph.D?

A. Throughout my medical career I have heard the same words of advice over and over: “don’t take your patient’s home with you.” However, I carry each and every one around with me everywhere I go. Every time a scared 25-year-old looked me in the eyes and asked me why they have MS, I vowed to work harder so that one day we would understand what causes this terrible disease. Whenever a wife, mother, or child of someone with MS asked me if I could cure their loved one, I couldn’t help but picture the day when I would be able to say “yes.” Eventually I realized that I wanted to be part of advancing science, and learning the answers to those burning questions. While I absolutely love treating patients, shifting my focus to research will allow me to go from impacting my immediate community, to potentially improving the care of everyone living with MS. It is an exciting new path, and I’m thrilled to be in VCU’s Ph.D. program.

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