Advanced Degree Helps Alumna Create Lasting Relationships with Patients

Elizabeth Bott

Elizabeth Bott, MSN ‘19, APRN, PMHNP-BC, has a longing to create lasting relationships with her patients which led her to seek out an advanced degree nursing program. “I had worked as an in-patient behavioral health nurse for many years and enjoyed working with my patients,” said Bott. “However, I had begun to feel limited by the nature of in-patient nursing.” Day after day, Bott saw first-hand how infinitely valuable helping people through acute phases of mental illness can be, but she also found it difficult to watch those same patients be discharged as soon as they were well enough and not see them again until their next acute exacerbation. “I wanted to be an agent of positive change for people by cultivating lasting relationships that would help them live their most fulfilling lives by teaching them how to remain stable in their home environments.”

In order to practice at the top of her ability, Bott knew she’d have to advance within the career of nursing. “I wanted to be able to not only execute the orders of another care provider, but also create care plans and drive the care of the clients,” she said. “Advancing my education facilitates my ability to make a difference in their lives.” A native of Ohio’s Portage County, Bott has always known Kent State University College of Nursing to be a local leader in nursing education. “Many of my fellow nurses graduated from Kent State’s undergraduate program and loved it, so when the time came to make the decision about which graduate school to choose, it seemed a natural choice for me,” said Bott. “I was glad Kent State University College of Nursing offered my concentration.”

The ability to take both in-person and online classes offered Bott flexibility, which afforded her the opportunity to complete her education while continuing to work. “The most important thing that helped me through my program was learning to be a meticulous planner and schedule my study time.” Establishing camaraderie with her fellow peers also helped Bott immensely. “We formed bonds that will last a lifetime and it fortified my conviction that nurses are truly some of the best people.”

Bott credits her interactions with instructors as an invaluable tool for her comprehension of the course material. “There were challenges that went along with my program, just like there is for any advanced degree,” she said. “I’m really grateful for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) concentration faculty, particularly Dr. Wendy Umberger, Dr. James Tudhope, and Dr. Andrea Warner-Stidham, who always took a vested interest in our success as students and went out of their way to help us through times when we struggled.”

Today, Bott works with the consultation liaison psychiatry (CLP) team at Summa Health. She spends half of her time seeing patients on in-patient medical units and helping to manage their psychiatric symptoms while they go through heightened medical issues, while the other half of the time she sees outpatients in an office setting. “As APRN’s, we are in integral positions to advocate for our patients and be liaisons within their care teams,” said Bott. “Being an APRN allows me to be the best possible advocate and care provider for my patients. I am able to help my patients more fully understand their role in their health and empower them to take control of their healthcare and define what wellness means to them.”

Reflecting on her program and all that she learned, Bott explained that her expanded knowledge of pharmacology serves her tremendously in her day-to-day responsibilities. “Understanding receptor activity, and the mechanisms through which medications work within the body, has helped me to understand the effects treatment regimens can have on peoples’ bodies,” said Bott. “This is especially pertinent in CLP as many of the medications we can offer may have negative effects on the patient’s medical conditions, while many of their medications to manage their chronic and acute health conditions can have deleterious effects on their mental health. It really brings home the importance of viewing the patient as a whole person and not becoming myopic when trying to treat their presenting problem.”

After losing her father to cancer as a teenager, Bott knew she was destined to become a nurse. “The hospice nurses who cared for him during his final transition were so full of compassion and skill. Not only did they ease his passing, but they helped us as his family, make it through one of the most difficult times in our lives,” she recalled. “I knew I wanted to help people too. Watching the nurses care for my father throughout his illness helped me realize the nursing profession is a beautiful blend of human health sciences and the art of caring, compassion, and communication.”

Bott is proud to now call herself a Kent State alumna. “I value the education I received from Kent State College of Nursing. I had an invaluable experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything,” said Bott. She hopes to inspire more nurses to apply for graduate programs. “Don’t wait. I put it off for years even though I knew returning to school was what I wanted to do. There’s never a ‘perfect time’ to go back, you just have to make it a priority. My only regret is not doing it sooner.”


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