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Bruner delivers 2021 Hugh P. Davis Lecture

Dr. Deborah Bruner, RN, PhD., FAAN.

With more than 140 students watching in classrooms and countless more viewing virtually, keynote speaker Dr. Deborah Bruner, RN, PhD., FAAN, Senior Vice President for Research, Professor of Nursing, Professor of Radiation Oncology presented the 2021 Hugh P. Davis lecture Sept. 20. The lecture, originally scheduled for last fall, went on in a virtual format this year.

Bruner discussed her award-winning career in bedside nursing and research, but not before she noted the legacy she is now part of.

“The Hugh P. Davis award is given by a family with a tradition of outreach and giving,” Bruner said. “I want to give my absolute gratitude to the Davis family. Their entire family’s history of giving and service to civil servants, girl scouts, and church work is stellar and inspiring every day.” 

Bruner titled her lecture "Through the Dark, Through the Door, Through Where No One's Been Before..." lyrics from the song, “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman” musical.

“I used that as the title of the talk because I want students and junior faculty to understand success isn’t a linear path,” she said. “There will be some dead ends and dark passages. You’ll need to be prepared for the chutes and ladders.”

The principles of success are similar across industries, however, said Bruner, suggesting her lecture would resonate with health care professionals in advanced practice, nurse managers, or those who work in academia or pharmaceuticals.

Success, according to Bruner is guided by three critical elements: Inspiration, Innovation, and Impact.

It was with dying cancer patients Bruner found her calling. Those life-changing moments catapulted her onto a career path of clinical practice, management, programmatic leadership.

“Find a place that you love,” Bruner urged. “If you don’t feel you are in sync with your leadership and the mission, you might be in the wrong place. I’m extremely lucky to have ended up at Emory.”

Bruner also noted the importance of network: People who “have your back” and mentors. Bruner pays it forward, sharing the stage for a post-lecture question-and-answer session with her mentees turned colleagues Dr. Jingbing Bai, Dr. Canhou Xiao, and Dr. Despina Tsementzi.

“Don’t give up, believe in yourself, and find those who support you,” Bruner said. “Your career success isn’t linear. Take your knocks, do better next time, and don’t give up.”

To view the lecture, click here.

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