After a nursing career spanning over 43 years and counting, Troy University alum Dr. Kimarie Bugg was one of 225 inductees into the American Academy of Nursing Fellows Class of 2021.
The American Academy of Nursing’s (AAN) approximately 2,900 Fellows are nursing leaders in education, management, practice and research. Fellows represent association executives; university presidents, chancellors and deans; elected officials; state and federal political appointees; hospital chief executives and vice presidents for nursing; nurse consultants; and researchers and entrepreneurs.
Though she’s dedicated her life to nursing and the healthcare field, Bugg said she wasn’t aware the program existed until 2016 while enrolled in TROY’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice program.
“I have to say I didn’t know anything about this until one of my instructors said, ‘You’ve done a lot of work, you should apply to be an Edge Runner,’ which is one of the programs the Academy of Nursing sponsors for distinguished nursing students,” she said.
The Edge Runner initiative recognizes nurse-designed models of care and interventions that impact cost, improve healthcare quality and enhance consumer satisfaction. Through its Edge Runner program, the Academy is mobilizing its Fellows, health leaders and partner organizations to recognize nurses who are leading the way with new ideas to transform the health system. Non-fellows of the Academy are encouraged to apply.
When she did make the decision to apply, Bugg said she didn’t know what the process to be a Fellow entailed until recently when several of her nursing colleagues said they wanted to apply but lacked sponsorship support.
“These are people who have written phenomenal articles and were teaching in university settings and were working in leadership positions in the state and federal government, but they could not find sponsors to help them get in,” she added.
Dr. Wade Forehand, Director and Professor of the School of Nursing, said Bugg’s appointment is a testament to her hard work and to the caliber of students TROY’s DNP program helps produce.
“The School of Nursing is incredibly proud of its ability to prepare exceptional doctoral graduates in the highest level of practice. Dr. Bugg is one such example,” he said. “She is advancing and transforming healthcare delivery and improving outcomes in her community. Having Dr. Bugg inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing signifies her incredible work towards breastfeeding and maternal child health equity.”
A Lifetime of Service
Though Bugg has been working as a nurse professionally since 1978, her career in caring for others dates back to when she was just 12 years old assisting her grandmother, who was a lay midwife in Arkansas. Her grandmother’s encouragement helped lead her to become “a real nurse” and the first in her family to receive a college degree.
“I absolutely fell in love with babies, and I’ve done pediatrics since,” she said. “My grandmother, who had like a fifth grade education, kept telling me that she wanted me to be a ‘real’ nurse—that’s what she always said—and that has driven me from the time that I did my associate degree, my bachelors, my masters and my DNP.”
After a brief stint in Temple, Texas and time spent training other nurses, physicians and social workers in the Philippines, the Caribbean and 39 states, Bugg has worked in the Atlanta, Georgia area for the majority of her career. True to her love of pediatrics, her focus has been on supporting breastfeeding education and mothers, including starting the first lactation program in the state at Grady Hospital and founding Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere.
ROSE is an organization dedicated to addressing the breastfeeding disparity among people of color nationwide through education programs, advocacy and other efforts. In 2017, the organization’s pioneering work was rewarded with a more than $1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The grant was awarded while Bugg was a student in the DNP program. As a component of the grant, she implemented her TROY DNP Synthesis Project, which evaluated the effect of a social media campaign, It’s Only Natural, on the intent to initiate breastfeeding among African American pregnant women. Because of that research, ROSE was awarded this year a grant of $2,992,502 to be paid out over five years from the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, Office on Women’s Health.
“During her time in the DNP program at TROY, Kimarie was able to use the knowledge she gained toward her successful $2.9 million grant to fund ROSE,” said Dr. Amy Spurlock, Bugg’s DNP project coordinator, former TROY DNP program coordinator and current Associate Divisional Dean of Nursing at Boise State University. “We could not be more proud of Kimarie as she is recognized as a Fellow. She is a wonderful example of the role that doctorally prepared nurses play in eliminating health disparities.”
Since 2001, Bugg has been responsible for $7,998,205 of grant money being awarded to 14 different organizations devoted to breastfeeding, maternal health and paternal support services.
The DHHS grant couldn’t have come at a better time. As the organization celebrates its 10-year anniversary, Bugg is steering herself to retirement—but not until 2023.
“I can now leave the organization we founded in a really good place. It’s been 10 years, so for us to start from scratch and be here now is amazing,” she said. “We have several grants and contracts that will carry them through so we can continue to add equity to projects and programs, but the most important thing is to improve infant mortality and maternal mortality.”
Though she’ll be retired in a few years, her days of caring for young ones and new moms are far from over. Her daughter is due with a new grandchild in April.
When reflecting on her career up to this point, Bugg said she’s just grateful to have been a part of so many families’ big moments.
“I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to engage with amazing families and see them grow and thrive,” she said.