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Anita All

Director, Master of Science in Nursing Joint Program
School of Nursing

In the beginning of a career that would span more than 40 years, Anita All seemed to do all she could to avoid being a teacher. The idea of instructing students in kindergarten through 12th grade did not appeal to her at all. She liked people and thought she would be successful as a nurse instead. All may have fainted once or twice in her training, but she mustered through it. At some point between earning an associate's degree in nursing from Indiana University-Indianapolis in 1969 and completing a bachelor's in nursing at the University of Wyoming in 1986, All got to teach at a community college. She was surprised to discover she enjoyed it, but was not prepared to end a nursing career. Instead, All found a way to combine the two. Three degrees and one graduate certificate later, All is more than a trained nurse. She's a nurse educator. She came to Auburn in 2006 from the College of Nursing at the University of Oklahoma to direct the new Auburn University-Auburn Montgomery Joint Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. In her spare time, All, a breast cancer survivor, shows quarter horses at national and world competitions.

1. Why did you become a nurse?

It is really hard to remember so many years ago when I started nursing school, but when I was in high school there were maybe two choices for young women: teaching or nursing. Teaching was mostly K-12 and I knew I did not want to do that and no one ever discussed teaching beyond K-12. I liked people and thought I would be a good nurse. Of course, I never expected to faint at my first delivery or during a bone marrow biopsy on a young woman in an isolation room. At that time, I was not so sure if I made the right decision, but I stuck with it. I spent many of the early years doing clinical nursing in obstetrics, intensive care unit and the emergency department. I guess I loved the adrenaline.

2. What made you switch careers to be an educator?

I wouldn't say I switched careers as much as I decided to make a difference in patient care by making a difference with students. I earned a master's in nursing and a Ph.D. at the University of Northern Colorado and I can truthfully say those two programs had so much to do with who I am as an educator and as a person. I finished the master's program believing I could do anything I wanted to. I learned firsthand the difference an educator can make in the care you provide and how you can help students (future nurses) look at all issues of the care continuum. I learned so much about who I was that I knew I had to buy a red pen and help others learn the valuable nursing and life lessons that I did. Many of the faculty members remain friends and mentors of mine. I cannot thank them enough for their dedication to education.

3. How has the joint MSN program grown since you became director in 2006?

The program has made many accomplishments since I arrived.  Students have been publishing and presenting their work at the national level. There was a student our first year who won an outstanding poster award at the National League of Nursing's leadership conference. This past year a student made the Graduate School's top 30 percent of scholars and then went on to win the research award for the Alabama Nurses Association. In the spring of 2010, a student received the research award at the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. The program received accreditation from the Collegiate Commission on Nursing Education in the spring of 2010.

4. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of how the program has been received by nurses who want to build their careers. When we received approval last year to add a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner track and a Nurse Educator track to the program, applications poured in before we did any formal advertising. We continue to receive more applications than space available, but are working on ways to accommodate the growing numbers. A human resource manager in Atlanta sought me out recently because she had heard of the program's reputation and she wanted me to provide her with names of graduates who might be interested in career opportunities. Currently, we are considering the addition of a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree for the advanced practitioner program next year and a Clinical Nurse Leader Program in the future.

5. In your spare time, you ride and show quarter horses. Where did that interest come from and why do you still do it?

I was a "ring mom" when my son did 4-H. My husband grew up with horses and thought it was something we all could do together. After I was dumped on the ground several times, I found the "ugliest" Appaloosa mare in the world and learned to ride. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I bought my own show horse. This beautiful Palomino mare had qualified for the Palomino World Horse Show and we both wondered if I would live long enough to return. I did and we had a great time at the show, even though we did not make any of the finals. Several shows and many ribbons later, I had the chance to show Sharkey, the son of the Palomino, and we won a Reserve World Championship. I could not believe I was one of the last two people left in the riding pen that night. We also won many National Snaffle Bit Championships. We had so many great times together. Sadly, Sharkey did not awaken from an MRI and had to be euthanized. He was my best friend and I still miss him every day. I know when I look at the stars he is giving someone a wonderful ride. Luckily, I now have his brother to show. I hope to take Scooter to the world show next year. The Palomino mare turned 27 this year and currently lives in our pasture looking like a portrait when people drive by. She helped someone else survive breast cancer, and will stay with us until one of us dies.

Sept. 26, 2011