Anna Graham, BSN, RN

Wound & Ostomy Specialist

I grew up in Oklahoma where I obtained both my associate’s degree in nursing and my bachelor’s degree. I currently live here in Columbia with my husband and two children.

Why did you get into the health care field?

I was inspired to become a nurse by my grandmother Christine, who was also a nurse, and by my younger brother who was born with chronic medical needs.

What interested you in your particular specialty?

In Oklahoma, I worked with a passionate and gifted WOC nurse – a nurse certified in wound, ostomy, and continence care – who became a mentor to me. I started out thinking “I want to be that kind of nurse in my own specialty,” and the thought grew into “I want to be that kind of nurse and practice that kind of nursing.”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

This is my first experience in wound and ostomy care, so the learning curve has been very steep but very rewarding. In addition to learning new things, I love how focused I can be with each patient while working with them.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

I’ve learned a lot about setting priorities and viewing time as a resource. My team often gets called for minor issues that may not need a specialist consult. While I would love to support every patient with my time and expertise, I am learning to prioritize those patients who most need specialty care. I honestly think the most challenging aspect has been learning to say no — or at least “can you help me clarify this request?” — rather than immediately jumping in with a yes.

What has changed in your field since you started practicing?

I think nurses and the world outside of nursing are becoming more aware of compassion fatigue or burnout as a common experience for nurses. It’s not just something experienced by people who aren’t “tough enough” for this world.

What do you see changing in the next 5 to 10 years?

My personal favorite thought experiment has to do with how artificial intelligence could change nursing, and how we might anticipate or prepare for that. If technology can replace some of the essential tasks and functions done by people, what identity and value do we have as nurses? What else could we be?

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy gardening, reading, knitting, hiking with my family, and weightlifting.

What advice would you give someone looking to become a nurse?

To anyone looking to become a nurse, I would say, “I hope you’ll join us!” Keep yourself open to learning, set a high value on your time and experience, and don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself into something new when the time is right.