AHEC Scholar Spotlight

Alexandria Ballard Sims

Alexandria Ballard Sims is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student in the Wayne State University College of Nursing. She recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her experience as a DNP student and an AHEC Scholar.

When did you know you wanted to pursue Nursing as a career? Do you know what field you want to specialize in yet? 

I realized I wanted to be a nurse after being a caregiver for my grandmother for many years. My grandmother consistently reinforced the importance of education at an early age. She inspired me to become a nurse for herself and to care for others. Although she passed away, she saw me graduate with my Bachelor's in Nursing and practice as a registered nurse for two years before she passed.

I have a background in dialysis. Before becoming a nurse, I worked as a dialysis technician. At the dialysis unit, I was exposed to many health disparities with diagnosis and management of diabetes and hypertension. Many young patients were minorities, undiagnosed with hypertension and diabetes, which are chronic kidney disease risk factors. This is where I found my passion for patient education and providing quality care for all patients. I enjoy working with patients and finding ways to provide resources and education to prevent severe complications of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease. With the experience I had, I decided to return to school to obtain my DNP degree in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, and specialize in nephrology.  

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to undergrad and what was your major?

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Oak Park, Michigan. I obtained my first bachelor's at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a degree in Psychology in 2009. I returned for a second bachelor's at Oakland University with Bachelors in Nursing. Recently, I defended my DNP project and have two more semesters left to complete the program. I am scheduled to graduate in August 2023.

How did you hear about the AHEC Scholars Program?

During my first year of the DNP program at Wayne State University, I was introduced to the AHEC Scholars Program in my first course with Dr. Susan Wiers. Immediately I was interested because I have always been interested in improving patient health outcomes by reducing health disparities while improving health equity with implicit bias, motivational interviewing and cultural awareness training. This helps reduce medical differences and mistrust among urban patient populations.

Can you please speak to your experience with AHEC Scholarshow has the experience been for you?

This will be my second year in the AHEC Scholars program, it is an excellent program because you can meet with students from other medical specialties such as social work, nursing and medical school. We have quarterly meetings on Zoom to build stronger connections and share our experiences in the medical field.

 You recently won an AHEC Conference Scholarship for the 2nd timeHow has attending these conferences helped you in your studies?

First, I would like to thank the AHEC Scholars program for their support with offering the conference scholarship and the opportunity for me to participate in the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Annual Spring Clinical Meeting in Boston last spring. Being able to have the $500 stipend helped pay for at least 50% of the travel expenses. This experience also helped me to learn more about kidney health disparities and current evidence-based practices that are beneficial in my current practice as a nurse and future practice as a nurse practitioner. During the conference I was also able to network with medical professionals from all over the country. This year I am happy to submit my abstract for review at the 2023 the NKF's spring clinical meeting. Overall, being afforded the chance to attend a health conference relating my specialty will continue to support the mission and vision of the AHEC scholar program.