Spotlight on Libby Hopkins
Interview with Libby Hopkins, MS, BSN
Written by Phallon Perry, MFA
Recent graduate of the Aging and Applied Thanatology Certificate Program, Libby Hopkins decided to further her knowledge in the fields of aging and dying to enhance her expertise as a hospice nurse and clinical nurse educator. She feels that the Aging and Applied Thanatology Certificate Program not only met, but exceeded her goal of gaining a deeper understanding of the grief and loss aspect of hospice care. Hopkins says that as a student, she enjoyed the intellectual challenges that the program provided, but she also appreciated the challenge of being taken out of her comfort zone by exploring various methods of communication and self-expression. In one of her courses she had the opportunity complete a project using a series of illustrations. Hopkins admits that she has never illustrated beyond simple stick figure drawings in the past, but she was pleased with the way this program allowed her to push herself further than she’d ever imagined. Likewise, one of her courses also provided her with the opportunity to write a research poem about patients nearing death in the Intensive Care Unit. Similar to her experience with drawing, Hopkins admits that she had never attempted to write a poem before and really commends the program director and instructors that allowed her to use a different part of her brain to explore a more creative side. The poem that she created was such a success that she has continued to use it in both her work and volunteer activities.
Shortly after completing the Aging and Applied Thanatology certificate, Hopkins expanded her role at the Veteran's Administration and she is now educating the entire hospital on end-of-life care through a course that she developed entitled Care of the Dying Veteran on our Inpatient Medical Floors and Intensive Care Units. She has also had the opportunity to speak at a National Conference of the “Pioneer Network” and host a session called Moving Toward a More Person-Centered End of Life Experience. She says that the research she did in the program, coupled with the confidence she gained in the program, helped her to prepare for these presentations.
Libby Hopkins speaks very passionately about the education she received in our Graduate School certificate program. She says “the program is life-changing. The professors each come with different backgrounds and perspectives with different areas of research, and they impart their own wisdom while taking advantage of the students’ knowledge and experiences to support peer learning and exchange of ideas. While this seems like it should simply be an expectation of a graduate program, it can be challenging with sensitive and difficult subject matters and students with widely divergent values and beliefs. The professors did a tremendous job with it. I honestly feel that the learning experience far exceeded that of my BSN or my Master’s Degree in Organizational Management (both earned in-person from other Universities).”