Alumna inspires daughter to pursue nursing

Photo of Ashlie and Kristi Hendersons
Courtney Cope Media in Austin, Texas.

By Amanda E.H. Pritchard

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing alumna Kristi Henderson, DNP, NP-BC, FAAN, FAEN (DNP 2010), and her daughter, second semester Bachelor of Science in Nursing student Ashlie Henderson, are celebrating Mother’s Day over many things, but this year specifically, it’s their passion for nursing.

“Nursing is a profession I have always been interested in,” Ashlie said. “My mom, grandmother and even my high school nurse had a huge impact in my life, showing me the responsibility, impact and joy of the profession. From a young age, I have loved serving others and saw the impressions nurses in my life had on me. I knew I wanted to be that person for others. I was also drawn to nursing as I watched my mom’s career progress. Seeing all the diverse opportunities, I knew there were so many paths I could take with a nursing degree.”

From a bedside nurse to CEO and other ventures in legal consulting, teaching, research and technology along the way, Kristi has shown her daughter the true meaning of nurse leadership. Kristi currently is CEO for MedExpress and Senior Vice President of The Center for Digital Health & Innovation for Optum Health. She received the UAB School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019 and serves on the School’s National Advisory Council.

Kristi says her time at the School of Nursing was a game-changer for her career.

“It was a different mindset and a new network that changed my entire career trajectory,” Kristi said. “The Dean and faculty invested their time and resources to support the students and it paid off. When I look at the contributions and successes of fellow UAB graduates, I am so honored to be among them. The level of impact the UAB School of Nursing has on the profession, the health care industry, the community and the students is profound. I gained knowledge, relationships, confidence and opportunities from UAB that took me from a bedside nurse to a CEO of a company. I have an immense amount of gratitude to UAB for the impact they had on me.”

Now Kristi is excited to see the path Ashlie takes as she begins her second semester at the UAB School of Nursing.

“My future plans are constantly shifting. As of right now, I am interested in working in the neonatal intensive care unit or the emergency room. I also want to come back and earn my Nurse Practitioner degree from UAB and possibly, one day, open my own practice,” Ashlie said.

For the Hendersons, choosing the UAB School of Nursing was easy. They wanted to take part in a program immersed in excellence.

“When I decided to pursue my doctoral degree, there was no question in my mind where I wanted to attend. I had my mind set on obtaining a degree from UAB. I was impressed with UAB’s high rankings and the caliber of their faculty. I knew being a UAB Nursing alum held great prestige and would open new doors, so I never hesitated on UAB being the right place,” Kristi said.

Ashlie added, “When the time came to apply for nursing school, I always knew UAB would be on that list. I saw how UAB played an important and impactful part in my mom’s path and wanted the same for myself. My mom always told me about how highly she values UAB nurses, her UAB nursing education and all the opportunities she has been given from UAB.”

With her first semester in the books, Ashlie feels fortunate for the connections she’s already made.

“I have a wonderful group of friends who are my support system each day as we push through nursing school together,” Ashlie said. “Each member of the faculty has shown me they truly care and push me to succeed. I can’t wait to continue moving forward in my nursing journey as a part of the UABSON community and become another proud UAB alum just like my mom.”

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