A perfect Pairing

Beverly Fray, M.S.N. ’06, B.S.N. ’03, R.N., a board-certified advanced practice registered nurse in community and public health nursing, and nursing student Cristie Vidal, M.S.Ed., have a lot in common. Nursing is a second career for both, they are passionate about the field and, more pointedly, they both enjoy a challenge. So when the School of Nursing and Health Studies paired Fray and Vidal for a mentorship program, it was a perfect match.

“Beverly has explored a variety of areas in nursing and has a similar mindset as me,” says Vidal, who will graduate from the University of Miami in May 2010 with a B.S.N. “She jumps at an opportunity and runs with it.”

This year, Vidal is one of approximately 20 accelerated nursing students at the school to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foun-dation New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program. The program supports underrepresented groups in nursing or individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the intention of easing the country’s nursing shortage. Each recipient is also assigned a mentor from the nursing community.

Fray is currently the Unit Practice Council Coordinator for the Jackson Health System at the Center for Nursing Excellence and an Adjunct Faculty at Florida International University College of Nursing and Health Studies. Originally from Jamaica, she moved to Miami in 1987, right after earning a bachelor’s degree in language and politics from the University of the West Indies. She originally planned a career in diplomacy, but those aspirations changed when she came to the United States.

“There was a shortage of nurses, and I challenged myself to see if I could do this,” Fray recalls. “I applied to nursing school and got in. Nursing was not a first choice, just a challenge. I ended up liking it very much.”

Retrospectively, Fray has worked in just about every aspect of nursing. She’s worked in home health, taught mandatory service classes, was the nurse manager for the geriatric-psychiatric unit of a private psychiatric hospital, coordinated clinical operations for an outpatient psychiatric facility, and served as a pain management nurse at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She’s done it all, and this world of experience makes her an ideal mentor.

“I’ve been a nurse since 1992 and nursing has allowed me to achieve independence in many ways. I had great nurse mentors. I’ve grown professionally, and I think I have a lot to offer to someone who wants to do the same,” says Fray.

Vidal is that “someone.” Born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Cuban immigrants, for several years Vidal had taught special education students in a school, and when some of those children required hospitalization, she worked with them in that environment as well.

“That’s when I realized I could work with children and in a hospital setting, all of which I love,” says Vidal.

Before entering the one-year nursing program at the University of Miami, Vidal worked for 12 years with pediatric oncology patients in the psychosocial realm. “I have a passion for pediatrics,” Vidal says. “But I want to leave myself open to experiencing different things. Beverly expressed that she would help me, and I know that’s going to be wonderful.”