Journey from RN to APN

Did you know that …

…  Jane Edwards likes to collect sea glass when at the beach and get’s in trouble when reading all night? …  Tina Eckard likes to de-stress by curling up with her iPad, going to the spa, or loving on her family, all preferrably while in Italy?

To read more from Jane and Tina as they share experiences of their journey from RN to being and Nurse Practitioner.  Both are truly inspirational individuals!


CVMC encourages and supports higher education. Two nurses that have chosen the path to becoming Nurse Practitioners after beginning their nursing careers at CVMC are Jane and Tina. Both have seen the organization grow in their 17 years of tenure with CVMC. “I have seen nursing’s role at CVMC grow from the ‘worker bee’ always following orders to becoming agents of change.” Jane says.  Tina points out that today, nurses at the bedside are utilizing Evidence-Based Practice. She notes “Magnet designations have guided nursing at CVMC in this direction, but I believe CVMC nurses far exceed the Magnet Standard.”

Join the CMVC Family
Tina and Jane are two of our extraordinary Nurse Practitioners at CVMC. Not only are they exceptional practitioners, they also are wonderful examples of direct care nurses pursuing higher education to transform care. Both, Jane and Tina joined the CVMC family in 1995. Tina began as Nurse Aid in the Critical Care Unit while attending nursing school at Lenoir Rhyne University and as nurse worked in CCU and dialysis. Jane started her journey with CVMC as RN in the NICU, after working as an LPN in a nursing home, which she recalls as “the hardest work I ever did”.  Jane also worked in Same Day Surgery, PACU and as pre-operative Educator.

What attracted them to become nurses?
When asked about what motivated them to pursue nursing Jane remembers “I thought about medical school … and the guidance counselor politely suggested that my SAT scores in math were not those of a medical school applicant.” Jane’s initial ‘grand plan’, as she calls it, was to learn a trade so that she could move to Australia with her husband.  Tina knew early that the nursing profession was calling her. She recalls always having been the ‘care taker’ in the family and always having an interest in the medical field. “I guess I knew from a young age I wanted to take care of people. It wasn’t until I was older and wiser that I knew I wanted to be a nurse.”

The Path
Jane Edwards
After graduating with a BA in English and working some time in personnel, Jane obtained her ADN from Robeson Community College, BSN from UNC Greensboro, and her MSN from UNC Charlotte’s FNP program. Jane remembers thinking, “finally through with school. I am never going back again. However, I was sorely mistaken, not realizing the power that is my good friend Lesley Loder.”  After being ‘drug’ back to school and 12 years of college education, Jane completed the doctoral program at the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 2009. Meet Dr. Jane Edwards!


Jane Edwards, FNP-C, DNP


Tina Eckard, CCRN, ACNP-C








Tina Eckard

Tina graduated from Lenoir Rhyne University in 1997 and began working in our CCU. She returned to school and obtained a Master Degree in the Science of Nursing Education and Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix Online. Tina recalls “I needed and online program to balance children, work and school.” After taking a glimpse at leadership at CVMC, Tina knew her calling was to “pursue a Nurse Practitioner degree … and provide advanced care to patients at CVMC”.  Duke University marked the next stop on Tina’s academic journey. She reminisces about the amazing education experiences “I had the opportunity to work at the bedside managing acutely ill patients with some of the best practitioners in the industry.”

‘Back to school’ as an adult learner brings many challenges, as many of us have experienced in the past. Jane felt the same stress of juggling the roles of wife, mother, employee and student. She remembers “… trying to listen to a lecture online during my lunch break at work. The computer in my office had, at the very least, sub-optimal speakers and I had to sit on the floor under the desk with my ear to the speaker to hear the lectures!” Although, there were no reports of Tina being under any furniture, she certainly attests to the challenges of managing various responsibilities. Faced with devastating news of a diagnosis of Breast Cancer, Tina recalls “I learned quickly that Chemo-Brain is a REAL thing. It was a challenge to stay focused”.

Life of a Nurse Practitioner at CVMC
Tina and Jane experienced their first day as a nurse practitioner differently. Jane points out “I had the distinct advantage of a long internship mentored by Lesley Loder, Ismo Kaariainen, Kenton Sanders, Michael Bridges, and Garland Hughes. The staff were already used to seeing me and it was probably harder on them to remember that I was official than it was on me.”  Tina remembers her first day and compares it to “feeling like a fish out of water. I went from being this very confident and knowledgeable CCU nurse to a novice NP.”  Jane adds “I think the hardest part is coming to terms with the realization that you are ‘in charge’ … and the final say rests on your shoulders.” Tina corroborates, all of the sudden “I was responsible for the outcomes of interventions I choose for my patients.”

Most rewarding/challenging parts of being a Nurse Practitioner
When asked what each perceives to be the most rewarding, Jane concluded “I enjoy the science behind a diagnosis from symptoms and clinical signs. To see how an intervention changes something or makes a patient feel better is very satisfying.” Tina adds, “I feel rewarded when I know my patients and families have been given safe and quality care.”  Both, Tina and Jane think the greatest challenge of being a NP is closely related to what is most rewarding: accurately diagnose a patient and developing the best treatment plan for that particular individual to make them better. Tina notes “It humbles you very quickly and makes you realize there is something bigger than you in charge” when despite best treatment and care we “loose the battle”.

What the Future may hold
Tina hopes to eventually go on a Mission trip to put her NP skills to use “for those less fortunate” shesays. She also would like to become “Palliative Care certified in order to confidently provide care for this special population.” Jane, although seeing herself doing this job for years to come, is exploring an entirely different direction, “I occasionally see a glimmer of a different role with medical law, but it is pretty fuzzy”.  Her personal goal is to “retire a decent age … and sail off with my husband on our (we don’t have one yet) sailboat.”

Whatever the future may hold for Jane and Tina, we are fortunate to have such amazing practitioners that not only provide the highest level of care, but also inspire other CVMC professionals!