MURRAY, Ky. — Many Racers are able to begin their dream career after graduating from Murray State University. For nursing alumna Andrea Tanner, the blue and gold provided the solid educational base that launched her award-winning career.

Tanner graduated from Murray State in 2002 after finding her home in the Murray State School of Nursing and Health Professions. During her time at Murray State, Tanner found her niche in community health through the program’s “eye-opening” clinical experiences.

“I knew that I wanted to pursue a nursing career outside the hospital setting thanks to my diverse experiences at Murray State. I wanted more time with my patients and to have conversations with them,” said Tanner. “I remember for one day of my clinicals, I was given the opportunity to shadow a school nurse and I absolutely loved it. I knew one day, becoming a school nurse was something I wanted to do.”

It didn’t take long for that day to come for Tanner. After working for a year at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky., she applied for a school nurse position in the New Albany Floyd County Schools and earned the position. In 2005, she began the graduate nursing program at the University of Missouri.

“I wanted to learn more about school nursing and immerse myself in the educational process,” said Tanner. “I wanted to push myself to learn more about this area I came to love.”

After earning her master’s degree in 2009, she became the coordinator of health services for New Albany Floyd County Schools. Soon after, she discovered an opportunity to become an epinephrine expert with the National Association of School Nurses. Tanner was accepted into the program and now trains nurses throughout the state of Indiana about the use of epinephrine in schools. Additionally, Tanner has worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop procedures and a national policy to stock epinephrine in schools.

“There is a misconception about school nurses that we just apply Band-Aids and tend to stomachaches. But school nursing is so much more than that,” said Tanner. “It’s an integral part of community health and contributing to a healthy culture. School nurses are the only point of reference in regard to medical care in buildings with hundreds of people. We are teaching children at an early age how to make health a priority.”

Tanner has received several honors, including being named the 2015 Indiana School Nurse Administrator of the Year and being selected as one of 10 nurses in the nation selected as a 2015 Robert Wood Johnson/AARP Culture of Health Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing. In December 2016, Tanner was honored at a nursing summit in D.C. and had an essay published in the newest edition of Sigma Theta Tau International’s “The Power of Ten” book.

Tanner credits the Murray State School of Nursing and Health Professions for her success throughout her career. One day, she hopes to teach future nurses, and she plans on pursuing her doctorate soon.

“My education at Murray State played such an important part in my life. I left Murray State with a full grasp on nursing theory and leadership skills,” said Tanner. “The classes gave me a solid foundation and gave me the confidence to pursue the opportunities in community health early on in my career.”

Andrea Tanner, 2002 nursing alumna from Murray State University, was one of 10 nurses in the nation to receive the 2015 Robert Wood Johnson/AARP Culture of Health Breakthrough Leaders award. Tanner (center) is joined by Susan Reinhard , senior VP and director of the AARP Public Policy Institute, and Susan Hassmiller, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s senior advisor for nursing.