Dr. Jessie Downes joins APU as the new Assistant Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nursing Programs. She is a registered nurse, and her graduate studies in nursing focused on healthcare systems leadership. Jessie brings clinical, management, and professional education/training experience in both public and Alaska Tribal health systems to our new programs. Most recently, she was the Clinical Services Supervisor for the Department of Health and Human Services of the Municipality of Anchorage. She has also served as Manager of Education, Development, and Training at ANTHC and Chief Nursing Officer at Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Utqiagvik.
What are you teaching at APU and what does that entail?
My role at APU is to be the Director of Nursing Programs. While I will be teaching a handful of classes, the biggest part of my job will be to work with the incredible team here and at ANTHC to set up accredited nursing education programs here at APU.
What did you do prior to APU?
Prior to working at APU, I was the Clinical Services Supervisor for the City of Anchorage’s Public Health Department. Before that, I worked in leadership for the Tribal Health System both here and in rural Alaska. My most recent position with the tribal health system was as the Director of Nursing for Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Utqiagvik.
What are your goals for this school year?
Overall, I am excited about working with APU to get these programs started. As working in academia is brand new for me, I have a big learning curve, a bit like drinking from a fire hose. I look forward to being more comfortable with the work of higher education. Additionally, I am so excited about our first cohort of students. What a great time to be joining APU, so many exciting changes happening. I am excited to see students succeed and I am excited to see our programs succeed. I guess, overall, I am just plain excited.
Where did you go to school? What did you study?
My undergraduate work was from Penn College (a Penn State technical school) where I got my Associates Degree in Nursing. I then went on to get my Bachelors in nursing from Chamberlain College of Nursing. I enjoyed the online learning environment so much that I continued with Chamberlain to earn my Master of Science in Nursing in Executive Studies and finally my Doctor of Nursing Practice in Health Systems Administration.
What is your fondest memory from when you were in school?
I love the rush I got every time I finished a paper and knew it was a job well done. There is nothing like the euphoria of completing the work and hitting the “submit” button. I just loved the chance to breathe deep and strategize before taking on the next challenge.
When you were a college student, who was the most influential person in your life?
I think for each different degree there was a different person who cheered me on and pushed me to excellence. Most recently, however, my husband has been my biggest supporter and encourager as I worked to finish my DNP. Every day he put dinner on the table and kept the house together while I spend countless hours huddled over my computer working away. I am not sure how I would have done this all without him. He is the absolute best.
What do you do in your free time?
Free time? What is that? Ok, just kidding. In the rare moment that we have some down time, my hubby and I love to spend time camping. He loves to fish and I love to read, this works out well for us both. We also have a hyperactive border collie who loves to play fetch until your arm is ready to fall off. He loves camping as well and will gladly roll in any fish guts that he finds along the shore; so kind of him. In a few more months, my husband and I are expecting our first child. I get the feeling that for the next several months, all our free time will be filled with diapers, burp cloths and a new kind of adventure.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. The county I lived in had more cows than people and many of the surrounding farms were run by Amish families. We raised pigs and chickens and had a small fruit hobby farm. I miss the ‘country’ lifestyle so much. I love a quiet evening on the porch watching the fireflies twinkling. I came to Alaska when I was in my 20’s for an adventure. While I do not regret coming here, I do miss fresh corn on the cob and tomatoes as big as a softball.
What are you most excited about for this job?
I am both excited by and intimidated by the idea of building this program from the ground up. I am so thankful for such an experienced team to work with and I know that I will learn a lot along the way.