Alumnae/i Feature

Kimberly Noonan ’18DNP Selected as 2023 Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing

Kimberly Noonan ’18DNP

Medicine is always changing, so you always have to learn new things. We are lifelong learners, and this is something that was reinforced at Simmons.

On October 7, 2023, Kimberly Noonan ’18DNP was inducted as a Fellow within the American Academy of Nursing. A Chief Nurse Practitioner at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Noonan is committed to supporting Nurse Practitioners and advancing oncology nursing. She spoke with us about her Academy fellowship, the rewards of her profession, and why she chose Simmons.

“The October induction ceremony was so exciting and beautiful. It was a great honor to be there, especially during the Academy’s 50th anniversary. It was probably one of the most meaningful events I have ever attended,” says Kimberly Noonan ’18DNP on becoming a 2023 American Academy of Nursing (AAN) Fellow.

Throughout the long and grueling application process, Noonan had her doubts. “When you submit these things, you never think you are good enough,” she says. “At the celebration breakfast for the new Fellows, AAN President Ken White said, ‘You are supposed to be here. You are not an imposter.’ That’s when I started to acknowledge the things I have accomplished. I am very grateful.”

As an AAN Fellow, Noonan will serve on a variety of committees and advisory boards. Much of this work involves social policies and practices, particularly those that involve Nurse Practitioners (NPs). “My Academy work is really about having a seat at the table so that I can be a voice for NPs and for the future of healthcare in this country,” she says.

At a young age, Noonan realized that she wanted to go into the nursing profession. “I have always cared about people and knew that I wanted to be a nurse from around the age of 10. This is a very fulfilling profession for me.”

Being an AAN Fellow provides Noonan with a platform to develop her interests and advocacy. “When I think about my research interests, it’s really about NPs and Advanced Practice Providers (APP). Currently, I am working with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to develop a toolkit for APP leadership and what we think this kind of leadership should look like. It’s very exciting work.”

For six years, Noonan has served as Chief Nurse Practitioner at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At Dana-Farber, she has developed a precise specialty for treating patients with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that develops in a white blood cell called a plasma cell. Working at a major medical center in Boston, Noonan appreciates the Institute’s cutting-edge energy. “There is a real spirit here. Dana-Farber provides immense opportunities for nurses. I always tell NPs, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and this is very true of Dana-Farber. . . Our NPs provide supportive and quality care to their patients. It is very fulfilling to work with the NPs here.”

Caring for cancer patients has caused Noonan to grow as a person. “You look at the journey of these patients, and you realize that you have a significant role to play in their journey,” she says.“You have to honor people from the beginning of their diagnosis and throughout the trajectory of survivorship. . . It’s all about optimizing the individual’s quality of life when they have a cancer diagnosis. . . These experiences have taught me much about life and what is most important in life.”

Noonan entered the DNP program at Simmons’ School of Nursing when she wanted to supplement her credentials after working as an NP. “I had colleagues who were Simmons alumnae/i, and they were so impressive,” she recalls. “The DNP program at Simmons was wonderful, and our whole cohort was a huge success.”

Associate Professor Patricia Rissmiller was especially inspiring to Noonan. “She was on my DNP project committee and I loved working with her. Professor Rissmiller was so authentic and gave me extremely good advice.”

Dean Emerita Judy Beal was a steadfast, supportive presence for Noonan during her doctoral studies. “Judy was always there for us to open up a conversation or boost our morale. She told us to hang in there and that it would all be worth it. She said to our cohort, ‘You are going to think differently because you have this doctoral degree and you are going to do good things.’ That was very meaningful to me.”

Noonan advises Simmons students and aspiring nurses to have a clear vision for what they want to accomplish. “I always have goals, even for each day, and work on achieving them. This does not happen overnight, but meeting your goals is not out of reach. Have dreams and follow them. My kids were in college when I went back to school for my doctoral degree, and it was the best thing I ever did.”

Noonan emphasizes the importance of challenging oneself with new knowledge. “Medicine is always changing, so you always have to learn new things. We are lifelong learners, and this is something that was reinforced at Simmons.”

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Kathryn Dickason