Emily Mewborn, DNP, FNP-BC, is on a mission to make an impact on the illness that causes the most deaths worldwide – cardiovascular disease. If that sounds daunting, you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mewborn.
Dr. Mewborn will graduate with her PhD in Nursing Science during the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Winter Commencement ceremony Monday, December 11. She will be among 110 students to receive their degrees during the event at 10 a.m. at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
Graduates include 23 from the College of Graduate Health Sciences, 21 from the College of Health Professions, 29 from the College of Medicine, and 39 from the College of Nursing. The ceremony will be streamed live on the UTHSC Commencement webpage.
Dr. Mewborn will begin a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh in 2024. She plans to continue expanding her cardiovascular disease research.
The Collierville native completed a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in two-and-a-half years. She married at age 19 and attained a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to become a Family Nurse Practitioner at age 23. She has pursued a PhD in Nursing Science that will help develop better predictors of heart disease.
“I want to marry the worlds I love, research and the discovery of new knowledge with taking care of patients and impacting them in the moment.”Dr. Mewborn, 33
Her work is getting noticed. Dr. Mewborn received the top student poster award at the 2022 International Society of Nurses in Genetics World Congress in Durham, North Carolina, last November. She also received the ISONG 2022 Research Grant.
At UT Health Science Center this year, Dr. Mewborn was one of three winners of the College of Graduate Health Sciences Frank Dugan Scholarship. Graduate Health Sciences students whose research is focused on cardiovascular disease are eligible for this award.
Dr. Mewborn’s original inspiration to enter the nursing profession and make a significant impact can be summed up in one word – Mary.
Dr. Mewborn’s sister, Mary, was born with a syndrome that affects many areas of the body, including eyes, ears, heart, and overall growth. “She was medically complex and fragile. She was trached. We had home nurses who stayed with us every night and became like family,” Dr. Mewborn said. “I saw that compassionate care for someone beyond their need in the moment, to include their emotional and spiritual needs – not just the person, but the whole family.”
Now 29, Mary is doing well, although she is partially blind and deaf. She completed college courses and lives with her mother. “She’s just our little miracle,” Dr. Mewborn said. “They said she’d never survive.”
As Dr. Mewborn got involved in the profession of nursing, she saw the obstacles many nurses face. When she worked in the hospital, she saw many seriously ill people with chronic diseases. “Their social determinants were in the way of their health potential,” she said. Social determinants of health are the conditions and environments where people are born, live, learn, and work that affect health and quality-of-life outcomes.
Dr. Mewborn decided to focus more on disease prevention and went back to school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Again, she faced a hurdle – the corporatization of health care. “The health care system is not set up to give people what they need day to day to prevent disease,” she said. “It’s transactional care, not relational care.” She wrote a paper that was accepted for publication by Nursing Ethics, “Examining Moral Injury in Clinical Practice: A Narrative Literature Review.”
In 2022, Dr. Mewborn set her sights on the path where she felt she could make the greatest difference – a PhD in Nursing Science researching ways to improve risk predictors for heart disease. She is studying a specific genotype that may be a potential risk factor. A health intervention that targets that genotype could reduce the risk of heart disease significantly. “That is precision health care,” she said.
She manages to balance her scholarly endeavors with a strong family life. She is married to Mikey Mewborn, PhD, the dean of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and they have a preschool-aged son named Wesley. She and her husband play in their church’s band, and they enjoy water skiing and snow skiing.
Dr. Mewborn’s PhD adviser is Ansley Stanfill, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate dean of research. Dr. Stanfill’s research focuses on genetics, and she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.
“Dr. Stanfill is the definition of a mentor,” Dr. Mewborn said. “If you look in the dictionary, her name should be beside that word,” she said. “She is so encouraging and challenges you to be the best you can be. She leads by pure example in excellence.”
Dr. Stanfill said, “Emily is an exemplary student and a force to be reckoned with. I have no doubt that she will use her formidable skills to change the world for the better.”
When Dr. Mewborn attains her PhD, it will be her third degree from UTHSC. She also earned her BSN and DNP from the university. She is proud to become a UTHSC graduate again. “UTHSC is still in the business of growing students and fostering their learning for the ultimate goal of improving patient care. I am honored to be a part of it,” she said.
The story of Emily Mewborn was initially published in the Fall 2023 College of Nursing Magazine.