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King University News :: Making a Difference :: King Alumna Bridgett Tsepas Devotes Life to Pediatrics

Bridgett Campbell Tsepas always knew she wanted to work in pediatrics.  While nursing is her career, for Bridgett, it is a calling.   

After graduating from King in 2006 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Tsepas went to work for Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, N.C., and has spent the last 6 ½ years serving as a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse. 

King’s School of Nursing is a high caliber program with a holistic philosophy that promotes caring relationships and critical thinking.  What students find at King’s School of Nursing is an approach that works.  Most of the University’s nursing graduates are recruited for key positions before they graduate, many receiving offers from their first-choice employer.

“As a graduate nurse of King University Bridgett Campbell Tsepas exemplifies the values of professional nursing in her daily practice at Duke University Medical Center Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Johanne Quinn, dean and professor of King’s School of Nursing.  “She works collaboratively with physicians and other nurses by serving a unique population of children with cancer.  Her mission work, which she conducts alongside her husband, Evan Tsepas, continues to promote and restore health to children with cancer in Haiti; a specialized and essential function of society.”  

My time at King has allowed me to be successful in my career,” said Tsepas.  “I had great experiences with my clinicals, as well as with my instructors.  I was able to do my capstone in pediatrics at Johnson City Medical Center.  I always knew I wanted to go into pediatrics.  My pediatrics professor, Kathy Wilkinson, definitely paved the way for me to be successful as a pediatric nurse.  She had spent time as a pediatric nurse at Duke at the beginning of her career and gave me the confidence to go that route.  She opened a great many doors for me and provided me many great opportunities that would, in the end, make me a much better pediatric nurse.” 

When asked about the one thing that resonated most from her time in King’s nursing program, Tsepas shared a quote that summed it up. “‘If you treat the disease, it is win or lose, but if you treat the person, it is win every time.’  Every kid that I meet is not going to live. That is just the monster that cancer is, but I feel, in 100% of my cases, I was able to make a difference and make them feel loved.”   

“For nurses, solid communication skills are one of the most important aspects of the profession,” said Kathy Wilkinson, MSN RN, associate professor and director of undergraduate Nursing for King’s School of Nursing.  “Even as a nursing student, Bridgett had excellent communication skills, especially when it came to speaking and listening.  She was able to follow directions without a problem and easily communicated with patients and families, which has obviously led her to great opportunities with Pediatric oncology patients and their families at Duke.

Tsepas serves as a member of the peer-elected leadership committee of her hospital unit.  While at Duke, she has received the Rookie of the Year Award, and was the Strength, Hope, and Caring Award winner for all of Duke Health System in both 2007 and 2009.  Recipients of the Strength, Hope, and Caring Award must be nominated; in Tsepas’ case, she was nominated once by the director of Duke’s Children’s Hospital and once by the family of one of her patients.  The award is given to those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. 

In 2009, Tsepas became the first nurse at Duke to ever speak at Hospital-wide Grand Rounds.  In 2009, she was a poster presenter at the annual Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Conference in Orlando, Fla.  In 2012, she was a speaker for the Jim Valvano Kids Klassic, a fun-filled weekend to benefit pediatric cancer research, patient support, and education at Duke’s Children’s Hospital.  Tsepas created a video for the Jim Valvano Kids Klassic which has been shown at various events; it can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUpLV_xTh5U

Tsepas has exhibited a very unselfish way of life, continuously being of service to others.  She has made significant professional achievements since graduating from King.  In April 2013 during King’s Dogwood Weekend alumni celebration, Tsepas was awarded the 2013 Young Alumni Achievement Award.  The award recognizes those young alumni who have made outstanding professional contributions to their field since graduating, and who have shown a strong commitment to the service of others.  King has long sought to provide its students with opportunities to become exceptional and thoughtful global citizens.  Of this, Bridgett Campbell Tsepas is a true example.

In addition to her other accomplishments, Tsepas also serves as director for Camp Kaleidoscope.  “Camp Kaleidoscope is Duke’s summer camp for children with chronic illnesses,” said Tsepas.  “The camp allows kids who might not pass a physical to be able to attend a normal summer camp to then be able to attend this camp.  The camp is staffed by doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists.  Kids get to sleep in cabins with no electricity and swim in a lake.  It’s real camp.  I oversee the teenage week.  Many of the kids who attend have never been away from their parents for a week because they are chronically ill.”  Staff works with the campers, teaching them aspects of independence while also caring for them in a fun, but safe environment.

In March 2013, Tsepas participated in St. Baldricks, where she and others donated their hair to Locks of Love, then shaved their heads to help raise awareness of childhood cancer.  The money raised during the event was donated to childhood cancer research.  Tsepas said her patients loved her new look!

“Our BSN program at King emphasizes in every course that communication is a fundamental part of providing patient-centered care and involves more than the exchange of information; it also includes transmitting feelings, recognizing these feelings and letting the patient know that how they feel has been recognized,” commented Wilkinson.  “As Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) has been adopted as the competency base for our nursing students, communication across the lifespan and in providing patient-centered care has continued to be valued as one of our outcomes in our graduates, one of the many qualities that often brings us positive feedback about our graduates from patients, employers, and healthcare providers.  Bridgett is a prime example of this outcome.”

When asked about working with pediatric oncology patients, Tsepas said, “It is very rewarding, but also probably one of the most emotionally draining things I could ever imagine doing.  The way you can keep going is just by making a difference in people’s lives.  For the ones who do make it through and are stronger on the other side, being able to see them accomplish great things in life after what they’ve been through is the way you can keep doing it.  The video I helped create shows kids holding up signs showing they are survivors as well as others who are still fighting; that is why we do it.

“We become a part of the patient’s family.  I just pour out my heart 100% to them,” continued Tsepas.  “For those who work with pediatric oncology patients, we are the closest thing they have to someone truly being able to understand what they feel.  Some of the nurses and staff have been through it themselves, so they truly understand.

“I couldn’t do what I do if it was just a job,” said Tsepas.  “For me, this is a truly a calling.”

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