Ask Dr. Lindsey Harris ’01 why she became a nurse, and she says she simply wanted to help others. Ask her what is exciting about her recent election as the first African-American president of the Alabama State Nurses Association (ASNA), and she gives the same answer – helping others.
One of Baylor’s all-time great female athletes, Harris attended Samford University on a basketball scholarship and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in nursing. From there, she earned an M.S. in nursing and a doctorate in nursing practice, both from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She currently serves as a family nurse practitioner on the diabetes management team at UAB Hospital.
Harris says she had a heart for giving, helping, and serving even at a young age. That heart began to beat even stronger while she was at Baylor. “Baylor really helped me prepare for college both academically and personally,” Harris says. “But being a part of the Baylor community service program, tutoring inner city kids, and serving the people of Jamaica really fueled my passion for giving and helping. That was my foundation. I took that to college, and I guess it led me to nursing.”
I feel like God has placed me on this earth to help others. My goal is to continue living out that purpose, whatever platform I may be on.
Harris hopes being the first Black president in the 107-year history of the ASNA may provide some new avenues of helping others. “I think it is important for Black and Brown people to see someone in positions of leadership. I’ve heard, ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’ So, if someone sees me, who looks like them, become the president of the organization and that gives them hopes and aspirations that they can also achieve, I like that I can hold that place.”
Harris also hopes that her election to the office encourages more people of color to consider nursing as a career, a choice that is presently made by a very small percentage of that demographic. She is helping the Birmingham Black Nurses Association reach out to children in local elementary schools through “nursing academies,” planting the idea of considering the nursing profession. “We teach them how to take blood pressure, check their pulse rate after jumping jacks, things like that,” Harris says. “They complete a project, and we give them a little lab coat and a certificate.”
Current members of the ASNA and the nursing profession may also benefit from Harris’s leadership as she pursues improvements in diversity and inclusion, collaboration across medical fields, and mentorship of young nurses and nursing students.
When asked about her future, Harris remains focused. “I feel like God has placed me on this earth to help others. My goal is to continue living out that purpose, whatever platform I may be on. And whatever platform this may lead to, I want to use it for God.”