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Kimberly Bishop: ‘Lawson gave me the foundation’

Even before she graduated from John Carroll High School, Kimberly Bishop knew she wanted to be a nurse. Her great aunt had worn the starched white uniform and cap of a nurse at American Cast Iron Pipe Co., and everything about the profession fascinated Bishop.

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” Bishop says today. “When I was growing up, I had a plastic stethoscope and thermometer.”

To pursue her dreams, Bishop enrolled at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham. She picked the college because it had a top-rated nursing program, enabling students to register a near perfect 100 percent passing rate on the Alabama Board of Nursing exam. Bishop would not be disappointed by the education she received there.

“It was beyond my expectations,” she says. “I like the smaller environment. I felt it was more nurturing and provided more support. The instructors knew me by name and some kept up with me even after completing their classes.”

In 1998, Bishop graduated from Lawson with her associate’s degree and became a registered nurse. She landed a job at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Birmingham and continued her education. She went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Jacksonville State University and a master’s in nursing from Samford University. She also completed a doctorate in nursing practice from University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In her 15-year career she has moved up the ladder at the VA hospital, where started as a staff nurse in critical care, precepting new nurses and obtaining instructor certifications in basic life support and advanced cardiac life support. After completing her master’s and acquiring her national certification as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, she began working in staff development. Later, her focus shifted to the VA’s hospital electronic health records system, the digital home of constantly updated patient information for the facility. She obtained a doctorate with a focus in nursing informatics.

Today, Bishop is coordinator of nursing informatics at the VA hospital, overseeing the electronic system that keeps track of the Birmingham hospital’s nursing documentation and bar code medication administration (BCMA). She also chairs the regional BCMA committee and sits on the Nursing Informatics Coordinating Council out of Washington D.C. Her role is an in-demand field in the industry, positioning her for other opportunities within the VA in Birmingham and the broader VA system.

“Lawson gave me the foundation to build as high as I want to go,” Bishop says. “At the end of the day – even though I have my doctorate – I am still a nurse. And there will always be jobs for nurses.”

Bishop quotes one of her favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

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