Chatham Views

Five Questions with Julie Slade

Name: Julie Slade
Title: RN-BSN Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Nursing
Joined Chatham: July 2010
Born & Raised: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii (my dad was in the military), I moved back to Pittsburgh, PA on my first birthday and have been here ever since
Interests: Nursing education, hospice/end-of-life nursing, spending time with my family and puppy, traveling

1.  How did you develop an interest in the field in which you teach?

When I was four, I told my mother that I wanted to be a nurse. To this day I don’t know where the idea came from, because neither I nor anyone in my family had been sick or in need of medical care. When I graduated from high school, I went straight into a 4-year program and earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. I worked in a few different intensive care units in local hospitals and eventually returned to school to earn my Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on nursing education and my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Even after earning my DNP degree I wasn’t sure where I was going to take my career. I applied for a job at Chatham as a Clinical (Practice Experience) Coordinator and fell in love with nursing education. Nowhere in my life plans or on my career path did it ever occur to me that I wanted to teach nursing. Somehow I always knew that I wanted to be a nurse.

2. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

One summer break in high school I worked a temporary job doing filing, mailing, and a small amount of data entry. Every day, I reported to a woman who gave me my assignments. On several occasions, I would do them, and when I returned for more she would say “Why are you working so fast? Take your time. You’ll make the rest of us look bad.” I remember feeling very uneasy at this. Why do a job when I’m not going to do it to the best of my ability? Why waste time doing purposefully slow work? I learned that any job worth doing was worth doing well, and that anything less than my best effort was not good enough for me.

3. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

I mostly work with RN-BSN students—working adults who have completed an Associate or Diploma program and are now working towards a Bachelor degree in nursing. My students, by far, are my favorite part of my job. They are bright, motivated individuals who are making a difference in the lives of their patients but they don’t always realize how far they can go as individuals or how far they can take the profession. During the program, I see students grow and develop in ways that they didn’t even know they could and, by the end of the program, many realize they are the leaders I knew they could be. Often students reach out to me after graduation and ask for letters of recommendation because they are going on to even higher levels of education. Or students will reach out and tell me about new positions they are taking or endeavors they are conquering. I couldn’t be more proud!

4. What is your passion?

That’s a really hard question, especially because I don’t have just one passion. In nursing, I’m passionate about nursing education and hospice/end-of-life nursing. As a nurse educator I don’t currently work clinically at bedside. I feel that my job right now is to nurse nurses. Through my students, I touch a myriad of patients and by helping nurses be the best nurses they can be, I am improving the care patients receive.

Many people are afraid of death, understandably so, but I see death as a special time in life that none of us can avoid. I don’t believe anything will ever eliminate a person’s fear of death but, with proper care, the dying process can be greatly improved. Our country has a far way to go in making this a universal idea. I spend time learning about improvements in end-of-life care and sharing the knowledge I have in an effort to benefit patients and families facing end-of-life situations.

Outside of nursing I also have many passions; my most intense is probably for my family. I believe everyone should be the best version of himself or herself and I try to always give my all to those I love and care about.

5. What one individual had the greatest impact on you and how?

I don’t know that I could identify one individual that had the greatest impact on me. My father taught me the value of hard work and providing for your family. My mother taught me to be a strong woman and that anything is possible. My colleagues teach me how to continuously improve my teaching skills. My students are a constant source of inspiration. I truly can’t identify one individual as the most influential in my life.

Julie Slade is program coordinator and an assistant professor in Chatham’s Master of Science in Nursing Program. You may find her changing a tire on the weekends when she serves as her husband’s dirt track racing pit crew.