Versatility, resourcefulness and leadership are skills you need to become an effective nurse. Those skills have also been fundamental for Kimberee Phelps’ professional progression since her time at Georgia State University.
“Once a nurse, always a nurse,” she says. “It comes natural to use assessing, planning, intervention, implementing and evaluating techniques when confronted to any life, clinical or business [challenge].”
Nursing was not Phelps original career choice. She chose chemical engineering, but the lack of personal interaction and the ability to affect lives and communities made her reconsider her path. An assessment test proved that it was intrinsic for her to care and serve, and she wanted to improve the health of people and communities. So Phelps applied to the nursing program at Georgia State while simultaneously working at Grady Hospital.
An Atlanta native, Phelps always knew about Georgia State. She knew the nursing program had a good reputation and was competitive. While studying and working, she began to appreciate the holistic approach to patient care.
“All the components that make us who we are – socioeconomic, cultural, and religious, plus the knowledge and clinical aspect – are extremely important while working with patients,” she says.
The program helped Phelps become a leader in the nursing community. After her time at Grady, she worked as a med/surgery manager, then as the director of nursing at Kindred Healthcare. Phelps graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in nursing at Georgia State. In 1998, she started at Kaiser Permanente as clinical supervisor for the Cascade Medical Office Adult Medicine Team. During her sixteen years with the company, Phelps has received several promotions. She most recently became the senior director for primary care operations.
Keeping up-to-date is very important to Phelps. Even though her current job does not require a nursing license, she maintains one. Phelps uses her nursing skills every day. She reviews policies at the local, state and federal level, and evaluates processes and work flows to improve quality and service. She also helps nurses to improve their personal outcomes. Always asking questions, Phelps commits herself to making complete assessments by reaching a deeper understanding of the issues.
As a leader at Kaiser Permanente, Phelps is expected to participate in a community activity or board membership. Phelps has been advisory board member for the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions for the last 6 years. Through strategy and planning, she enjoys seeing the nursing program grow.
Phelps enjoys having the opportunity to be part of the Georgia State experience in less business-like events as well: tailgates, football games, receptions, galas are all fair game for her. She is a Georgia State ambassador extraordinaire. When attending business or social events, she is excited to present her business cards from both Kaiser Permanente and Georgia State so she can open a dialogue about the school.
Since 1995, Kaiser Permanente has been a solid supporter of Georgia State University and especially to the faculty and students of the School of Nursing. Students of The Lewis School have received scholarship support from Kaiser Permanente for undergraduate and graduate students, providing essential financial support needed for students to be able to continue and finish their studies. Faculty members enrolled in doctoral studies with plans to continue as nurse-educators and for CE programs can apply to the KP Faculty Scholars award. Another important service provided is The Kaiser Permanente Bridge Program, designed to help uninsured undergraduate and graduate students in nursing, nutrition, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, public health or social work, by providing temporary health coverage. Students must meet certain eligibility requirements to be able to qualify.
In 2009 Phelps earned a master’s degree, summa cum laude, in organizational management with focus in leadership from Capella University. With her business background and professional growth within Kaiser Permanente, Phelps provides great insight on how she sees the future of nursing. She advises nursing students to embrace the program, leverage skills and versatility and believe that it is going to provide the tools to be successful. She encourages students to explore all learning opportunities including study abroad programs, exposures, and those offered by faculty members. Her wide perspective in the field advises students to remember that technology is a good tool to integrate, but face-to-face interaction can be even more important. She also includes a global view – nurses need to understand federal and state law, she says, how the country is implementing care, looking at population care management, and understanding how our delivery system differs from others abroad.
When she is not working hard for Kaiser Permanente or advocating for Georgia State, Phelps enjoys being with her family, taking trips to Hawaii, music, and singing with her 26-, 23- and 20-year-old children. She spends time with the church ministry, especially youth and women. For Phelps and her husband, who is a pastor, working for the community and helping others is part of their lives.
We thank Kimberee for her unwavering support and dedication to the nursing profession and Georgia State University.