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NUR Member Profile

Kathy Abode, RN, MPH

Kathy Abode, RN, MPH

What is your current position?

I am the pediatric bronchoscopy nurse and the clinical program director for the North Carolina Children’s Airway Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. We provide coordinated multidisciplinary care for children with complex airway disorders.

What are you passionate about in your work?

My passion is has been developing the Children’s Airway Center from the ground up. We started with a small grant, a group of dedicated staff and a desire make sure our children and their families received the best care possible. Our center has grown to become a respected, quality program at our institution and has provided a model of success for other centers.

Tell us about a memorable patient or student that you worked with?

I was part of a team providing care for a child who was severely neurologically impaired, wheelchair bound and ventilator dependent. His family was particularly devoted to providing their son the best care possible with limited financial resources. They clearly loved him, accepted his severe limitations and over the many years we cared for him they repeatedly traveled 3 hours each way from their small town for multiple appointments and hospitalizations at our center. They trusted our advice and the care we provided. When he died at age 24, I had the opportunity to speak at his funeral service. Seeing his extended family, friends, and the community reach out to his parents and truly mourn the loss of this young man reminded me how unconditional the love for a child can be. He enriched the lives of those around him by his presence. He allowed others to love him, care for him, and understand what life gives us. As nurses we don’t always see the strong positive impact our most vulnerable patients can have on the lives of those around them, or the contribution they can make to a community. This young man and his family enriched my life and I am grateful for that experience.

Tell us about your latest or favorite research project?

In 2014, I was fortunate to be the nursing representative on the ATS committee that completed the Official American Thoracic Society Technical Standards: Flexible Airway Endoscopy in Children. It was an honor to work on this project with some of the most talented and world renowned pediatric pulmonologists, ENT surgeons, respiratory therapists and anesthesiologists to create this document.

I am also very proud of a recent publication: Abode KA, Drake AF, Zdanski CJ, Retsch-Bogart GZ, Gee AB, Noah TL A Multidisciplinary Children’s Airway Center: Impact on the Care of Patients with Tracheostomy. Pediatrics Feb 2016, 137 (2) 1-9; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-0455. It describes our quality improvement efforts over the past seven years and represents the culmination of the early work of the NC Children’s Airway Center.

Tell us about your family (2 and/or 4 legged) and how you spend your leisure time (yes, hopefully you have leisure time).

I have a great husband, and 5 grown children (that includes 2 wonderful daughters-in-law). They all have dogs (practice children, I think) so whenever they all visit chaos ensues. I have a voracious appetite for books. I like to cook, travel (most recently to Cuba) and cycle in my free time.

How has your view of nursing changed over the years?

I really enjoy having the opportunity to work with undergraduate nursing students. Their enthusiasm and excitement is infectious… That is one aspect of nursing that has not changed over the years. I do, however, think that opportunities for nurses have expanded and seem to be limited only by one’s imagination. I think the early career nurses I encounter increasingly see the value and opportunities afforded by advanced degrees as well as combining nursing with other interests. I think that having a highly educated workforce can only benefit the nursing profession

How long have you been a member in ATS?

I first joined ATS in 2009.

Do you have a mentor that has helped you?

I have had a couple of fantastic mentors during my nursing career and they gave me the support and confidence I needed every time I wanted to move to a new level or step outside a familiar role.

What is the value of your membership in ATS?

My ATS membership provided me with more opportunities for professional growth than I could have imagined. Every time I attend the annual conference I feel energized and enthusiastic about my work. ATS helps me move forward with ideas for projects and gives me the opportunity to pick the brains of colleagues from across the spectrum of pulmonology and around the world.

Last Reviewed: June 2016