Kristen Myers, M.P.H.’12, M.S.N., R.N., CIC, began her health care career in nursing, which she’s gone on to connect with positions in community health and public health. She loved her courses on those topics while pursuing her bachelor of science in nursing degree at Grand View University in Des Moines. Her three years as a home care nurse inspired her to expand her career in public health.
“I saw what I was doing was having a broader impact beyond my patients and their families,” says the Ames, IA, resident. “By helping patients remain in their homes, they could avoid going to the hospital, and this decreases health care costs. Some patients had infectious diseases and I could help keep them from infecting others.”
That view of health care from a population perspective led Myers to enroll in DMU’s master of public health program. She also began working as an infection preventionist at Boone County Hospital in Boone, IA. Her first encounter on the job included dealing with the H1N1 flu pandemic that hit the state. For her M.P.H. capstone, she interned with Boone County’s home care services and public health department to produce a public health emergency preparedness plan. At the time, states and the nation were calling on counties to develop such plans.
“I designed and facilitated an eight-hour tabletop exercise for the county in which we responded to a mock smallpox outbreak,” she says. “It was a huge project, but also fun. I was able to roll in my passion for infectious diseases.”
While working as an infection preventionist, she discovered her other passion: teaching. In 2012 Myers began teaching nursing in the clinical environment, and last fall she began teaching the social and behavioral sciences course online for DMU’s M.P.H. program. This spring she completed her master of science in nursing-nurse educator degree through Graceland University’s online program; this summer, she’ll begin an online Ph.D. in nursing program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“I’m over-the-top comfortable with the online environment. That’s why I wanted to teach online at DMU,” says Myers, whose aspirations include continuing to teach at the University and landing a full-time faculty position at a school of nursing in central Iowa. “I would like to teach community health nursing someday.
“Online learning is self-motivated and self-directed, which I’ve always enjoyed,” she adds. “My online M.P.H. courses were very well organized. Plus I always felt someone with the program was there that I could communicate with. We have two small children; I was pregnant and became a mom while taking online courses. That’s how flexible it is.”