Title: Nephrology, Patient Education, and Critical Care Nurse
Company: VA Medical Center
Location: Durham, North Carolina, United States
Glenda Phillips Hightower, Nephrology, Patient Education, and Critical Care Nurse at the VA Medical Center, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Nurses for dedication, achievements, and leadership in critical care.
Ms. Hightower originally had plans to become a doctor, and in 1963, she was enrolled in a pre-med program. She worked for the American Personnel and Guidance Association, The American Council on Education, and the American Association for Higher Education—those jobs kept her constantly interested in information and learning. At the time, Ms. Hightower got married and became very ill. After she recovered from her illness, her marriage had fallen apart, and she took a part-time job as an editor in 1968. She progressed as an editor until 1972, when she became a managing editor at Hemisphere Publishing Company, but she kept her desire to complete a degree. She began taking classes at the local universities. Ms. Hightower attended the University of Iowa, where she went on to complete her goal of receiving a BSN in 1979. While in college, Ms. Hightower lost her father Garfield, who was a veteran, to a drunk driver, and after completing her degree, she went home to North Carolina, to alleviate her “aching soul.” To honor her father, who always told her that she could do anything she set her mind to, she pursued and received a job at the VA Medical Center in her home state of North Carolina. Ms. Hightower became a nurse at the VA Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina in 1980 and remains in that position to this day.
Ms. Hightower’s greatest career highlight was when Elon University acknowledged her, years after she left the university due to her illness. Dr. Brooks acknowledged that Elon university did not help Ms. Hightower the way they should have in the times of her illness, and admitted that they should have arranged for her to be able to continue the work that she had started. To correct their failure to help her, Elon University presented her with an honorary doctorate in 2019, to honor her continued pursuit to finish her degree, and the dedication she applied to her patients and community through her career. Another proud moment in Ms. Hightower’s life was becoming the valedictorian of her high school class. Despite her valedictorian status, she was the only one in her class unable to go to college due to financial reasons. In turn, Ms. Hightower received a scholarship to Elon University to pursue her degree. At the University of Iowa, Ms. Hightower graduated in the top five of her class and was only one of three African American students in the class. Being acknowledged by the VA hospital with several certificates of achievement was a major highlight of her career as well.
As a testament to her success, Ms. Hightower has been inducted as a member of various esteemed organizations, including the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the American Nephrology Nurse Association, where she was also on the executive council. She is additionally a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Chi Eta Phi, and the North Carolina Nurses Association. In the North Carolina Nurses Association, Ms. Hightower served on the peer assistance committee from 1986 to 1991, on the cabinet on professional and economic development from 1989 to 1991, and on the convention planning committee for the Durham Chapter from 1987 to 1988. Furthermore, she has been listed in the 18th and 22nd editions of Who’s Who of American Women.
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