A Professor Lives to Tell:  On her Deathbed, she Proclaims a Desire for More Nursing Education

A Professor Lives to Tell: On her Deathbed, she Proclaims a Desire for More Nursing Education

Ami Bhatt, DNP

The new year has barely broken in, and already American Sentinel assistant adjunct nursing professor Ami Bhatt, DNP, MBA, MSN, BSN, is celebrating three stellar achievements. First, she earned her health informatics certification. Second, she was elected as an ambassador to the national Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association from the state of Michigan. And last but not least, she was selected as one of just 10 people to attend the National League for Nursing (NLN) to attend its prestigious writing retreat this April.

While success is no stranger to this esteemed professor, neither is hardship. Dr. Bhatt earned her BSN from Wayne State University and dual master’s degrees (MBA and MSN) from University of Phoenix, all while working two jobs and being a single mother to her daughter. But it was a seemingly routine incident in 2011 that changed her life profoundly.

Dr. Bhatt missed a step in her garage and she broke her foot, a typical injury for most people. Over the two months following her accident, she developed several concerning symptoms that included shortness of breath and tachycardia. Dr. Bhatt was misdiagnosed with a sinus infection and she progressively became sicker. She lost consciousness at home and was rushed to the hospital. In the emergency room, the staff was unable to get a blood pressure reading. Dr. Bhatt had developed sepsis, an often fatal response to infection or illness. She was also diagnosed with multiple pulmonary emboli and a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Despite being near death, Dr. Bhatt thought of two important things: her daughter and completing her education. “During the code blue, I had a near-death experience,” Dr. Bhatt recalls. “I remember telling God that I had unfinished business. I was in school to complete my doctorate. I had a then-10-year-old daughter that I needed to raise, and I had student loans. Yes, I actually remember telling him about student loans!”

It took Dr. Bhatt nearly a year to recover, but she did.

Taking life – and education – seriously

Less than a week after being discharged from the hospital, Dr. Bhatt was back at her DNP studies, which she completed in April 2012. “After I came out of the hospital, I thought it would be best to re-enroll in classes right away to stimulate my mind again,” she explains. “I had been on a ventilator with many medications and spent three weeks in the hospital.”

In November 2011, she also decided to pursue a health informatics certification. “I had the privilege of developing hospice software with three IT partners in 2008, and I thought it may help me understand the informatics language better.”

Education has always played a strong role in Dr. Bhatt’s life. “My career is something that I’m very proud of,” she says. “It’s been a lot of hard work despite some obstacles, but I’m grateful for it. It was one thing that I could rely on that I knew that I always had. I knew that I could make a good living. I knew that, at the end of the day, if things were not going well in other areas of my life, I still had my career.”

Education opens doors

Nursing used to be a self-contained profession, but there are many opportunities that did not exist before, and that’s a result of the technological advances of today. “With the combination of the MBA and my nursing degrees and certifications, I have had so many doors open,” explains Dr. Bhatt. “I am now in a position where I can choose where I want to work and what I want to do. Nursing is evolving now, and we care for much more complex patients with multiple issues.

“We provide holistic care to the patient and family, and serve as an advocate and educator to them. Our roles are so important to implementing positive change in nursing and, subsequently, providing positive patient outcomes.”

Don’t stop learning

Dr. Bhatt feels that anyone who wants to continue their education can and should do so, despite difficulties encountered along the way. She knows she is not alone in having to overcome obstacles. Dr. Bhatt remembers one student who lost her job; her husband left her;  and she had recently had a car accident and her children had been ill for a couple of weeks. This student was ready to call it quits. Dr. Bhatt felt she could help. “As professors, we have an obligation to assist students in class, but we can also make a difference in other ways,” she explains. “Many people already know the solution to their problem but may just require some empathy, compassion or support.”

With Dr. Bhatt’s support, the student was able to succeed in her class by learning how to balance her life and manage her time. Her life began to slowly fall into place.

The future

Dr. Bhatt is not finished with her studies quite yet. She plans on continuing in a post-DNP to Ph.D. program this year. “I plan to continue my passion in teaching students and being a student myself,” she says. “I hope that I can inspire a student to continue moving forward in their journey because I know they inspire me to do the same thing.”

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