Vaping — electronic cigarette use — has become a public health concern for its health impacts in adults and its appeal to young people.
Tina Billberry applied her perspective as a registered nurse and mother along with her drive as a graduate student to research the issue and develop interventions, including a video now being used across some Central Louisiana high schools.
“It’s a matter of trying to know more and share information with other people and with kids so maybe — maybe — there can be less harm,” Billberry says.
More than that, Billberry’s project demonstrated her commitment to creating meaningful impacts in her community and going above and beyond in her academics.
This is how she maintained a 4.0 in the Master of Science in Nursing program and what set her apart to be the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Outstanding Master’s Graduate for Fall 2019.
“It helped me to focus on a project if I could tie it to something in my practice, or my personal life,” she says. “I could research and write more effectively.”
Billberry began developing her quality improvement skills by attaining her bachelor of science online through UL Lafayette’s online RN to BSN program in 2015.
“I wanted some career growth, but I only had an associate’s, so in order to grow I was going to have to go back to school to have some of the opportunities I wanted to have,” she says.
When Billberry was ready to pursue her Master of Science in Nursing, she initially chose another online program, but quickly realized it lacked the support she was looking for. Reflecting on her experience at UL Lafayette, Billberry knew she wanted to return.
“I went back to UL Lafayette for the support they provide through their instructors,” she says. “It’s a much warmer environment; they’re much more approachable. They’re willing to help you where I didn’t find that in the other program.”
Billberry says she wanted to earn her MSN degree to focus on and improve patient care. That passion has been evident in much of her work.
In 2015, Billberry was instrumental in creating the “Patient Pillow” Project at Rapides Regional Medical Center to provide breast cancer patients with small pillows to protect chemotherapy port sites from seat belts.
“I was the first oncology navigator at our hospital and one of the things you’re doing is letting people know you’re there and finding things you can share with your patients to give them comfort,” Billberry says.
She had found similar programs providing the protective cushions to patients but couldn’t find a way to buy the pillows. So she reached out to the community.
“They responded overwhelmingly with pillows of all shapes and sizes and colors. I think from the patient perspective, you’re giving (patients) something, but you’re giving them something someone else put the time in to make for them,” she says. “That’s comforting.”
Billberry has completed additional projects with direct impacts on her patients — Timely Care and Satisfaction in Navigated and Non-Navigated Adult Breast Cancer Patients, and Low Dose Lung Computer Tomography: The Impact of Reimbursement Availability on Lung Cancer Screening Rates.
Time management has been critical in allowing Billberry the ability to excel in her coursework while maintaining a full-time, then part-time, work schedule and marking family milestones with her three children, ages 17, 23, and 24.
“Through the course of my bachelor’s and MSN, we’ve graduated, we’ve married, we’ve done all sorts of things,” she says.
Billberry starts her semester by inputting all of her assignments and due dates, along with her personal schedule, into an Excel calendar.
“Once you’ve got it plotted out, you can focus on what’s in front of you. It lets me prioritize my time a little better so I’m not overburdened,” she says. “It’s a matter of prioritizing, looking forward, and not waiting until the last minute.”
Billberry’s hard work has paid off for her patients, her practice, and her family — especially her children.
“It gives them a picture that if they want something, they can do it. It’s going to take work, but they can,” she says. “If they decide to go back and do something later that changes things up a little bit, they can do that.”
If you’re looking for a change, advance your practice through UL Lafayette’s nationally-ranked Master of Science in Nursing online program. Request more information today.