Alumni in the News
Recent SON Graduate Tamara Caple Takes Leadership To New Level
Cone Hospital Director Tamara Caple finds her life passion in nursing leadership.
Tamara Caple’s name now has a few extra letters and numbers behind it, and they come from UNCG: RN ’99 BSN, ’06 MSN, ‘17 DNP. Earning three nursing degrees demonstrates a passion that took root when she was a young girl.
“Nursing was always what I wanted to do,” says Tamara, who just earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice. “In my head, I’ve been a nurse since I was 3 years old.”
While Tamara was in middle school, her grandmother suffered from Parkinson’s. “It was natural for me to just care for her,” she says. Whether she made grocery lists, helped with the cooking or put things away, Tamara enjoyed the time she spent caring for her.
Today Tamara is a director leading 50 nurses and staff members at Cone Hospital. “I’m mentoring constantly, giving feedback to newer nurses while meeting the needs of patients.” It’s demanding and requires long days, but she loves it. “After a while, it’s not work,” she says. “It’s your life passion. It’s what you do.”
As a nurse leader, she’s had the opportunity to coach many employees about advancing their education, as she has. “Many of them think that nursing school is out of their reach. But I tell them about UNCG. It’s an amazing experience to nurture a nurse tech through nursing school and to have them report to you that they passed their NCLEX exam and will be working as an RN!”
The School of Nursing has been a major part of Tamara’s life since she joined the UNCG alumni as a BSN undergraduate in 1995. An Asheville native, she had applied and been accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. A&T. UNCG was the best fit. “I wanted to be with the best of the best.”
Over the years and throughout her three degrees, Tamara has acquired more than excellent preparation. UNCG has given her an outstanding network and great memories as well.
“One of my favorite professors was Joan Mathews, who unfortunately passed away in 2013,” she recalls. “She served as a mentor to us and took us under her wing, especially as we were chartering the nursing sorority. She was willing to have the difficult conversations with us to prepare us for what was coming next. One lesson she instilled was that your reputation was the one thing that proceeds you: protect it.”
There are many more. “As I reflect on my time at UNCG, I am most proud of the lifelong friendships and professional relationships that I made and have maintained,” Tamara says. “I cherish the high caliber of leadership and instruction I received. And I’m grateful for the school’s continued investment in students as we work to advance the science of nursing. UNCG is empowering nurses to change nursing by teaching them how to be active and involved in the profession.”
If she sounds like a walking billboard for the school, it’s partly true. Tamara, who serves as president of School of Nursing Alumni Association, says she loves to tout UNCG — and its partnership with Cone Health.
“It’s refreshing to know that the School of Nursing and our Cone system have such a collaborative relationship. It should comfort the community to know that we are producing quality graduates who truly understand how to care for patients. Nurses are under a lot of pressure these days, but UNCG nurses make time for the people part and take great responsibility in the care of their patients.”
That’s something that Tamara gets to see on the job every day.
SON Alumni selected as 2017 Nurses of Distinction
The 2017 Celebrating Nurse’s award luncheon was held at the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden on Wednesday, May 10. The winners included Jennifer Browning, Melissa Browning, Stephanie Dixon, Nicole Winston-France, Tiffany Gibson, Kimberly Gordon, Martha Hamby, Anne Harris, Candy Johnson, Marissa Long, Denise Rhew and Betty Shackleford.
Click on the links below to see the articles of our own SON alumni: