All Woman

Adella Campbell's journey to a PhD in nursing

Former Edwin Allen student recovers from gaining one CXC subject

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT Sunday Observer writer hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 18, 2013    

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AFTER leaving Edwin Allen High with only one CXC subject, Adella Campbell was forced to realise her true potential and exceed all expectations to become the first unretired nurse in Jamaica to earn a PhD degree.

Born in Grant's Bailey, St Ann, and raised in James Hill, Clarendon, the courageous Campbell, a registered nurse and midwife who is now a lecturer at the University of Technology's Caribbean School of Nursing, was known for her stellar academic performances in primary school, as she even skipped a grade due to her brilliance.

But according to Campbell, when she entered high school the distance from home to school and other responsibilities became overbearing for her and led to her under-performance in her grade 11 exams.

"The distance from school and the responsibilities at home were quite hackling on me. People used to say you were so brilliant in primary school, what happened? I realised this was not where I wanted to be so I went back to do the subjects, got through for nursing and then all my dreams basically started coming true," Campbell said.

Now in her mid-40s, Campbell said that her motivation to achieve more was mainly intrinsic, as things were not perfect as a child growing up.

"I did not grow up with my parents, I grew up with a guardian and around me there were people who were achieving stuff and I think I had a genetic boost as I'm intrinsically motivated, so internal motivation played a part. If I see things that I want to achieve I just go for it and I've been like that from childhood," she said.

Campbell said that she has not regretted her decision to go into nursing as it has been a ministry for her.

"I think I have a passion for that career. I see it as a ministry and thought it would be an ideal situation that would touch people's lives. Being able to bring a baby into the world is an out-of-the-world experience, so in sustaining my passion I have a commitment to serve people," Campbell said.

While passionate about her achievement, she sought to give advice to young people who would want to enter the profession.

"It's a very rewarding field but you must be aware that if you are going to enter just to earn money it might not be as lucrative as one expects it to be at this time. You should ask yourselves if nurses are being given good salaries or if they are being rewarded for their work, so if it's just for the salary you may want to consider another option. Also, if it's just to have a career and not because you truly want to care for people, I don't think it's the right path," Campbell said.

She added: "People use it as a stepping stone but I believe if you are going to be a nurse you need to have a calling as you have to really love people and want to care for people, as trying situations will come and you will need to have that drive to get through," Campbell said.

Campbell, who has served on the Nurses Association of Jamaica's board as first vice- president, has achieved much in academia despite her many challenges.

After completing her diploma in General Nursing in 1992, six years later she received the Pan American Health Organisation fellowship to complete her Bachelor's of Science Degree in Nursing at the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she graduated with first class honours. In 2003 she received the European Caricom Scholarship for HIV/AIDS to complete her Master's degree in Nursing Administration. She obtained the degree with distinction also from the UWI.

In 2008 she went on to become the first Jamaican to be awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship to complete her doctorate in nursing at the Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Before completing her PhD in Nursing in May 2013, Campbell, in 2011 was given the Emerging Researcher Award for Health Services Research in Australia and New Zealand, and in 2012 she received the award for Stellar Contribution to Post Graduate Life at Victoria University. The achievements allowed her to become the first unretired nurse out of four nurses in Jamaica to hold a PhD.

Campbell has also committed herself to serving her country through community service. As a member of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston, Campbell said that while in New Zealand she participated in community service in an inner-city community in the Philippines.

"While in the Philippines I taught persons in an inner-city community there to do container gardening and gave them seeds to start their own gardening. I worked with community coordinators whom I taught how to monitor blood pressure and blood glucose. I also gave them sphygmomanometers and glucometers so they could continue the project. I left those instruments in the Philippines, so the project is ongoing now in the Philippines," she said.

Campbell added that she usually buys groceries and hands them out to homeless people.

"I can't explain why I do it but when I give, I get a psychological boost and a sense of satisfaction. Each day I ask myself what I'm going to do and whose life I'm going to touch. The feeling is similar to the boost one gets after exercise," she said.

Campbell said that her achievements have pushed her to encourage people to go after their dreams.

"Though in academia I still assist students in clinical area. Being the first Jamaican nurse to be awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship, it's a unique situation and I feel like a trailblazer. I want people to emulate me. I've found myself in a situation where I've done things and people want to achieve these things. Having this qualification alone is an articulation in itself for other nurses to follow in my footsteps," she said.

Campbell maintained that being afforded the ability to touch student's lives, teach them and see them pass their exams has been a rewarding and out-of-the-world experience knowing she had a part to play in those students' achievements and in their personal lives.

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