Nurses are one of the health care providers who have been dedicating their time and efforts towards the promotion of health and prevention illness. Aside from these, nurses have served as patients’ advocates protecting their rights and informing them of their rights and responsibilities. Joining hundreds of nurses who have made an impact towards the improvement of the health care delivery system is Associate Professor Ma. Cristina C. Hendrix, DNS, GNP-BC, a Thomasian nurse who has continuously developed several nursing interventions and authored numerous researches in the field of Geriatric Nursing, a field catering the older adult population.
Starting up, she graduated Cum Laude and Best in Clinical Practice (Gold Medal) at the University of Santo Tomas College of Nursing (USTCON) in 1991. After landing the 6th place at the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination, she immediately worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse, which she found most interesting during her college days, at the Chinese General Hospital. After a year and a half, she went overseas to seek for better opportunities to help her family.
In March 1994, while working as a critical care nurse, she took her Masters of Science in Nursing Major in Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama. MSN-FNP is one of the specializations of an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in United States, where nurses can manage stable patients with inter-collaboration with other health professionals like physicians.
Upon earning her Master’s degree in 1996 with an average of 4.0 (equivalent to 1.0 in the Philippines), she was invited to become a Clinical Instructor at Delta State University School of Nursing. With her new found love in mentoring student nurses, one of her colleagues advised her to take her doctoral degree as it will give her more stability in her teaching career.
Following the advice of her colleague, she took her Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS) at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC), at New Orleans, Louisiana in 1997 while serving as a faculty at the same institution. As a doctoral student, she became part of an Adult Day Care Center, a center catering to adult clients with cognitive impairments such as dementia. With the influence of her Geriatric Psychiatrist mentor and her experience in the Adult Day Care Center, she found a new passion and interest in the field of Geriatric Nursing.
Upon completion of her doctoral degree in 2001, a lot of opportunities opened up for her. Currently, she is dually appointed as an Associate Professor in Nursing, with tenure, at Duke University School of Nursing and as a Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) Nurse Researcher/Practitioner at Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She is also recently inducted as Academy Fellow of the American Association of Nurses (FAAN) for her invaluable contributions in nursing and health care.
Assoc. Prof. Hendrix is very thankful to UST for giving her a strong foundation in nursing which helped her reached what she has now. She is also thankful to her loving and supportive husband, family and friends who have continuously urged her to reach her dreams.
All the while, Hendrix has been driven by her motto in life: “Each one of us has a purpose here on earth. Once you start doing things and see that everything is falling on the right places, then you are really doing what you are meant to do on earth. You have an obligation that once you leave here, you will leave a contribution. You should be a part of the solution rather than the problem.”
True to the Thomasian core values of being compassionate, competent, and committed, she always makes it appoint to envision her goals and strive for excellence while still keeping her feet on the ground.
To all aspiring nurses, she has this encouraging message to impart: “Be creative, think broadly, and be open to changes in the way nursing is practiced. Once you are exposed to the different models of care or the ideal set-up where nurses can really make a difference and take leadership, it will inspire you to do great things.”