Meet Brenda Elliott, Sigma member, dedicated nurse researcher, military spouse, mother of four, and one of the Sigma Foundation for Nursing’s 2019 Leadership Education Grant recipients.
Brenda entered nursing while a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. She left the military in 1998 but continues to serve as a military spouse. In this position, Brenda and her family faced military relocations, which posed a challenge for her nursing career. “When online teaching started to grow, I realized there may be an opportunity to find this type of work that would allow me to teach, possibly at the same school, no matter where the military moved us.” With this in mind, Brenda made the decision to pursue her PhD.
Her dissertation — with a focus on military nurses — was yet another way she continued to serve the military. “I focused my dissertation on military nurses’ post-deployment experience, as a way to honor nurses who were doing what I had trained to do years ago, but never got called upon to deploy.” Over the years, her area of research has expanded into veterans’ health concerns.
Brenda joined Sigma as a nurse leader into Theta Zeta Chapter in 2004 because she understood the importance of being connected locally for continuing education and networking opportunities at the start of her career.
Currently stationed in Italy, Brenda is not permitted to work due to the Status of Forces Agreement between the US and Italy. Nursing research has provided a way for Brenda to stay connected to nursing while giving back to a population she cares for deeply. “Over the years I have grown to love conducting research and publishing, so I am fortunate to do so now with more time on my hands until we return to the US and I can seek employment again. I love contributing to nursing science on topics that are near and dear to me, such as military nurses and veterans.”
The 2019 International Nursing Research Congress in Calgary, Canada was a perfect opportunity for Brenda and her US-based research colleagues to present their research studies Facilitating Veteran Learning in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Education: The Faculty Perspective and Veterans’ Experiences of Learning and Knowledge Transfer in Baccalaureate Nursing Education. Unfortunately, the cost for attending this conference was a barrier. “While I do not come from a poor country, living overseas and being unemployed certainly makes things more challenging.” The Sigma Foundation for Nursing offers Leadership Education Grants to help members like Brenda attend Sigma events.
The benefits of these conferences extend far past sharing research with an international audience. “Not interacting with other educators for long periods of time can be difficult, so continuing to do research and disseminating it gives me purpose. Being able to network and get new ideas is motivating. Attending the conference helped to keep me connected to the profession.”
Receiving this grant not only helped ease the financial burden on Brenda and her family, but provided Brenda and her research colleagues the opportunity to collaboratively disseminate their research, brainstorm next steps, network and make connections with others interested in their area of research, and encounter new lines of inquiry. In addition, the conference provided the continuing education needed to maintain her CNE® Certification.
Speaking to donors who made the grant she received possible, Brenda shared, “I am humbled to have been selected to receive this funding! I believe the money was well invested as we will continue to grow our area of study. I will be forever grateful. Thank you.”
Grants like the one Brenda received help nurses in every stage of their career. You can help increase funding to make more of these opportunities possible. Donate today and designate your gift to leadership.