Vidalia native named UMC nursing dean

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — Vidalia native Kim Hoover never had an answer to the child-perplexing question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It wasn’t until her junior year of college that Hoover followed an instinct to sign up for nursing school.

Now, Hoover is the new dean of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Nursing School.

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After a nationwide search ended Oct. 14, UMC decided to stick with one of its own in Hoover, who had been serving as the nursing school’s interim dean since last spring.

Hoover said she did not have a whole family of nurses, like some in the profession. She decided to become a nurse because of the opportunities the field would offer to advance her career.

In addition, nursing would provide her with plenty of personal satisfaction from helping others, she said.

UMC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. James Keeton said in a press release that Hoover has much to offer as dean.

“Dr. Hoover has demonstrated the vision, creativity, intellect and collaborative spirit that are essential to lead the School of Nursing,” he said.

“In particular, she has continued to build on the tradition of a close working partnership between the School of Nursing and the professional nurses and nursing leadership in our health system.”

Twelve years in Vidalia public schools prepared Hoover, she said, to earn her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Northeast Louisiana University and the master’s degree in nursing and Ph.D. in Clinical Health Sciences from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Hoover has also worked in Natchez as a staff nurse and nurse manager at Natchez Regional Hospital for eight years and as an associate professor of nursing at Alcorn State University from 1993-2003.

In 2009, Hoover authored an article in the Journal of Professional Nursing called, “Changing times: The roll of academe in health care reform,” about the need for nursing faculty to become involved in politics at the local, regional and national levels.

“Nurses have a lot to offer that is lost if we do not have a seat at the policy-making table,” Hoover said.

Hoover said nursing is one of the best careers for those deciding on a first career or making a career change.

She said in tough economic times people often think of nursing only in terms of stable employment and good salaries, but the career’s advantages don’t end there.

“Nursing also provides geographic mobility, incredible opportunity for advancement, variety and the satisfaction of helping others,” Hoover said.

Hoover is no longer the only nurse in her family.

Hoover’s penchant for nursing perhaps inspired her mother, Barbara Breithaupt of Vidalia to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing 14 years ago. Breithaupt has been practicing as a geriatric-psych nurse since receiving her license.

And when Breithaupt attended nursing school in Natchez at Alcorn, she became a student of her daughter’s when she enrolled in one of Hoover’s classes.

Hoover’s late father Darryl Welch also lived in Vidalia, and her brothers Tim and Derek Welch still reside there.

Hoover is active on state and national committees and maintains memberships in the American Nurses Association, Academy Health, American Organization of Nurse Executives, Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Southern Nursing Research Society, and Phi Kappa Phi. In 2008, she received a gubernatorial appointment to the State Health Data Advisory Committee and was recently appointed to serve on the Healthcare Workforce Advisory Committee to the Mississippi Department of Health.

Hoover said her career has been a direct result of her teachers, mentors and parents who instilled in her a strong work ethic and valued education.

“A nursing career is an open path to be almost anything one can imagine,” she said.