In the Spotlight: Deborah Adams, MSN, BSN, RN

Posted: November 28, 2022

Since she was a girl, there was one person whom Deborah Adams could always count on for support and guidance. That person was her aunt, Juanita Fleming, PhD, MSN, RN, FAAN, an American Academy of Nursing Living Legend and the first African American professor at the UK College of Nursing. 

Today, Adams is following in her aunt’s footsteps and pursuing her doctorate at the college where her aunt served as a trailblazer in nursing research and education. Adams says she sees her aunt’s loving influence in many phases of her life—as a nurse and as a health care leader in her community.

“My aunt was always encouraging me to do more with my nursing work—to seek out new challenges and continue pursuing my education,” says Adams, who lives in Port Tobacco, Maryland. “She has been a forceful influence in my life, especially in education and professional development.”

When an elderly family member was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Fleming encouraged Adams to open her own assisted living facility to care for the family member and provided financing to open the facility. Fleming, who held an associate’s degree in nursing at the time, ran the eight-bed facility for 11 years, winning accolades from local officials for the quality of care provided.

When the facility closed, Adams went back to school to earn her BSN and then her master’s degree, which she completed in 2020, just a year after her beloved aunt’s death in 2019. Adams also works full-time at Kaiser Permanente in Fair Oaks, Virginia.

“I have always had a passion for excellence in nursing, just like my aunt,” says Adams. “But now I want to make an even bigger impact, so I decided to pursue a PhD. I want to prepare myself to shape the future of nursing and health care and help others living with cardiovascular disease and heart failure.”

For Adams, there is no more extraordinary gift than giving to others, a lesson that Fleming taught her well.

“Everything she did for me, every bit of advice and encouragement she gave me, put me in the right place to take the next big step in my career,” says Adams. “She set me on the right trajectory.”