Take 5 with Lolita Bryant
Lolita Bryant on nurse leadership
LOLITA BRYANT might be called nurse extraordinaire. Yes, she has fulfilled numerous nursing roles at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center, but her reach also extends into the community and state. Bryant has brought new insights about postpartum depression to medical professionals as well as led efforts to provide care to local mothers who suffer from the disorder. Bryant is also a nurse educator and a leader in alumni activities at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
“There are so many things I can do to support the (nursing) profession,” she says. “I am so grateful to be a servant leader.”
Bryant, who always knew she wanted to help people, decided on nursing while in high school. Since becoming a nurse in 1990, she has steadily pursued advanced degrees in nursing and taken on increasingly challenging positions at NHRMC. She currently serves as the hospital’s patient safety coordinator.
It was a colleague’s bout with postpartum depression that led to Bryant’s interest in the condition. She focused on postpartum mood disorders in her master’s degree program and researched postpartum depression education for registered nurses in acute care settings for her doctoral program. She received both degrees from UNCW.
Though Bryant shares her research at professional conferences, she is equally committed to helping area mothers with the disorder. As the postpartum support international coordinator for New Hanover and Brunswick counties, Bryant provides resources and support to mothers and families who are dealing with perinatal mood disorders. She also helps connect the mothers and their families with local providers who are trained to treat postpartum depression.
Bryant is also establishing a postpartum support group for the large number of mothers with postpartum depression. Bryant stresses that these mothers need resources and to know they are not alone and that with help, they will be better.
Teaching is another way in which Bryant works to advance her profession. At both UNCW and Cape Fear Community College, she passes her knowledge on to her nursing students and encourages them to reach their goals.
“As a leader, I reach back and give to the nurses coming behind me,” she says. “I can give them the knowledge I have, so they can be the best they can be, whether as a nurse or as a future leader.”
Bryant is also an avid supporter of UNCW. She has held leadership positions in numerous UNCW alumni committees and organizations; and she recently established Dr. Lolita B. Bryant, Abram Bishop and Family Endowed Scholarship for Diversity in Nursing.
The scholarship honors Bryant’s family’s contributions to the university. Large sections of the land UNCW is built on, including Trask Coliseum, belonged to Bryant’s great-great-grandfather Abram Bishop. Bryant also hopes the scholarship will encourage students of color to pursue nursing.
In recognition of Bryant’s commitment to the school, Bryant was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Citizen of the Year Award.
Bryant plans to continue to promote the nursing profession and help upcoming nurses, in as many capacities as she can for as long as she can.
“I want to leave a legacy that I did the best I could to make a difference in the lives of other people,” she says.
Take 5 with Lolita Bryant
WHY IS SERVING AS A NURSE LEADER IMPORTANT TO YOU?
“Being a nurse leader, whether as a nurse supervisor, an educator, or a mentor, gives me the ability to give back and make a difference in the lives of other people. I have a lot to offer those coming behind me, and I want to assist others on their journey so they can be the best they can be.”
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN HEALTH CARE?
“The way we provide health care is evolving. For example, telehealth is not only making health care accessible to patients who can’t get to an office, it also makes it more personal. When physicians talk to patients in their homes, they learn what type of family support the patient has, see the patient’s living conditions, and meet the patient’s family members and pets. With this knowledge, physicians ask more personal questions, and that can lead to better care. Doctors also become better communicators. We are also making medical care more accessible by building new clinics in areas of need and using mobile units to take doctors and nurses to patients.”
WHY DID YOU FORM THE DR. LOLITA B. BRYANT, ABRAM BISHOP, AND FAMILY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP FOR DIVERSITY IN NURSING?
“My reasons for creating the scholarship are threefold. One, I wanted to honor my family’s legacy to UNCW. Large sections of the UNCW campus, including Trask Coliseum, are located on my great-great-grandfather Abram Bishop’s former homestead. More than forty acres of my family’s land are now part of UNCW. I also wanted to provide some type of funding to support people of color and encourage them to enter the nursing profession. Currently, the diversity numbers in UNCW’s nursing school are low. Finally, the scholarship is a way for me to pay forward the financial assistance I received for my education. My baccalaureate degree in nursing was paid for by NHRMC’s tuition reimbursement program, and my entire Master’s of Science in Nursing Education degree was paid for by NHRMC’s Duke Endowment Scholarship.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK IN POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND MOOD DISORDERS.
“As the postpartum support international coordinator for New Hanover and Brunswick counties, I provide support, resources, and encouragement to mothers and families who are dealing with perinatal mood disorders. I also help connect the mothers and their families with local providers who are trained to treat these disorders. In addition, because we have a large number of mothers in the community who have perinatal mood disorders, I am working to form a postpartum support group for them. These mothers need resources and to know they are not alone, and with help, they will be better.”
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR NURSES TO PURSUE ADVANCED DEGREES?
“Nursing is a lifelong learning process, and the more education nurses have, the better quality of care they can provide.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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