When Trevecca nursing professor Dr. Natalie Hall first began her journey as a medical professional, she was not planning on working in neuro oncology. But she quickly discovered that God had other plans and she is now using what she has learned to educate others.
“I think that God chose this specialty for me because it's definitely not something that I thought I would ever be interested in,” Hall said. “But when I first graduated from my nurse practitioner program, my first full-time job was in inpatient neurology and stroke.”
The learning curve was enormous, but Hall excelled and fell in love with the work and the patients. She went on to become a board-certified advanced neurovascular practitioner, receiving additional training in neuroimaging interpretation and the care of acute neurovascular pathologies as well as expertise in assessing, diagnosing and treating patients with cerebrovascular conditions.
She acknowledges that working with individuals and their families as they navigate the reality of serious brain conditions is a heavy burden, but she does her best to work with compassion in all that she does.
“Caring for patients is a tender responsibility, and I find joy in sitting with patients in some of their most difficult moments,” Hall says. “Sometimes they need a listening ear, or information to relieve some of the uncertainty they face, or managing their residual neurologic deficits, or assistance navigating the healthcare system in order to care for complex diagnoses – and sometimes the patient is just angry at their diagnosis, and I have the privilege of helping them process and grieve the loss of expectation they had for how their future would look.”
After almost a decade as a nurse practitioner–seven of them spent in the brain tumor and cerebral vascular neurosurgery programs at Vanderbilt Neurosurgery–Hall began to feel a pull to use her experience and knowledge in a new way. She had taught nutrition as an adjunct for several years at both Trevecca and Lipscomb University. When Trevecca announced plans for a new nursing program, she saw an opportunity to start expanding her influence to support future medical professionals.
“I was looking for something that allowed me to use my clinical skills a little more creatively, and I knew that I loved higher education,” Hall said. “So when I found out Trevecca was opening a nursing program, it just sounded like the perfect fit, and I'm so thankful that the Lord paved the way for that to become a reality for me.”
In addition to her position as a professor, she has discovered other teaching opportunities, including a chance to present at the 2023 Tumor Section Symposium hosted by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. She presented on the advanced practice provider's perspective in neurosurgical oncology, covering the value and opportunities of non-physician medical professionals.
“I presented along with a neurosurgeon and a neurosurgical resident,” Hall said. “All three of us shared our unique perspective on what the advanced practice provider's role in neurosurgical oncology looks like, and how it's beneficial and valuable to the team and to the patient.”
At Trevecca, she will be teaching about pharmacology, foundations of nursing and various clinical skills. She is thrilled to be a part of a program that combines academic excellence with a Christian worldview, something she saw as especially important throughout the pandemic.
“Trevecca is uniquely positioned to really invest from a knowledge standpoint, a clinical skills standpoint and most importantly a spiritual standpoint in our next generation of nurses,” Hall said. “We all heard and saw the burnout happening across healthcare professions during COVID-19 and I think Trevecca has a role in developing a generation of nurses by pouring into them spiritually so that they can be the hands and feet of Jesus to their patients and also care for themselves well.”