Editor’s note: In the run-up to Final Exercises on May 16 and 17, UVA Today will introduce readers to some of the outstanding members of the Class of 2015. All of the stories, plus other information about Finals Weekend, will be compiled here.
Beginning with the piano at age 6 and focusing on the oboe by 11, Lindsay Scattergood-Keepper felt passionate about music from a tender age. But even in a family of clinicians – her father is an eye surgeon, and her mother earned a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Virginia in 1988 – Scattergood-Keepper never considered a health care career early on.
Instead, she was caught up in music lessons and orchestral and professional performances throughout high school and college, before ultimately earning degrees in anthropology and oboe performance.
Today, at 27 and on the cusp of earning a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Virginia, she laughs at her family’s characterization of her as a “nurse in denial for years.”
“Music’s always been a big part of my life,” said Scattergood-Keepper, who grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, “but it was during college that I realized I wanted to study the way it intersected with other disciplines.”
It was as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University that Scattergood-Keepper began researching the way deaf children experienced music – both those with cochlear implants and those without – finding that these children eagerly “heard” vibrations and musical cadence when exposed to instruments: running their hands across a guitar’s frets, plucking strings and playing on keyboards and with mallets. It was music on a different plane, Scattergood-Keepper found, an experience that whetted her appetite to fuse her musical and scientific interests – and “opened her world.”
After graduation, Scattergood-Keepper became a research fellow at the D.C.-based National Institute of Nursing Research while still playing oboe gigs at weddings, special events, churches and with orchestras. Reflecting back on her affinity with deaf children, along with her love of scientific riddles, she began to consider a health-care career for the first time. Medicine and audiology offered passing interest, but by spring 2013, it was clear that nursing school offered the right harmony of person-to-person interaction and hard-core science she sought.
“I liked that U.Va.’s [Clinical Nurse Leader] program was small,” she said, “and how leadership was regularly incorporated into the curriculum, along with the focus on research. Once I got here, I found my peers to be incredibly supportive, and the faculty is unparalleled and really available. I got the feeling that I would be nurtured academically and personally. And I was right.”
The Clinical Nurse Leader program is the only master’s-entry program in Virginia that enables students with a bachelor’s degree in another field to enter the nursing profession on a fast track. The accelerated, 24-month program prepares graduates to provide high-quality, safe and compassionate care that is evidence-based, and to lead quality-improvement efforts for optimal outcomes with patients, families, communities and systems.
If the intensity of the two-year program sometimes left her winded, Scattergood-Keepper regularly turned to the oboe and her musical colleagues in the Charlottesville Symphony.
And while she laughs when acknowledging that her path to nursing was circuitous, she also knows that her music has everything to do with the tone of her patient care: from keeping calm under pressure, relating to people, taking criticism and being able to make changes at a moment’s notice, all while using nuanced leadership and collaboration skills.
At Final Exercises, her symphony of relatives and loved ones will be cheering her on – her nurse mom perhaps most mellifluously.
“Both my parents were so supportive of my circuitous route and encouraged me to seek a broad education, and I’m glad I did,” Scattergood-Keepper said. “But my mom’s particularly excited because she knows the breadth and depth of what you can do as a nurse.”