Professor Spotlight: Kellie Middleton

A product of FMU herself, Kellie Middleton, a registered nurse who clinically practices in the field of hemodialysis and a professor of nursing at FMU, now works on the production of other registered nurses through FMU’s nursing program.

As much as she loves her role now, however, teaching was not always part of the plan.

“When I first graduated and took boards to become a registered nurse, I went straight into the field of community nursing,” Middleton said. “I knew that hospital nursing was not for me; I was, at the time, a young, single mom, and I just didn’t have the time.”

Middleton worked solely in the field until she was asked by FMU’s nursing program to help teach some of the clinicals. She was an adjunct instructor at that time.

“I was asked to be a clinical adjunct instructor for FMU,” Middleton said. “While I was a master student, I taught several of the clinical courses.”

An old professor of hers was the real reason she was able to become a professor. As such an involved member of the FMU community and nursing program, it only made sense that her adjunct professor role would evolve into a more permanent teaching position.

“I had a 10-year relationship with the school,” Middleton said. “I had one of my former professors reach out to me as she was interested in preparing for her retirement role and asked if I would be interested in taking over her course: fundamentals of nursing. That is how I ended up in the role I am now – transitioning from clinical instructor to professor of nursing.”

After Middleton filled out the forms and applications and was accepted into the role, she loved it. It was a bit of a shift, though, especially being a professor at the same nursing school she graduated from.

“You know, it is really different being on the other side of the podium,” Middleton said. “I relate to the students. I have been there, I sat in the same auditorium, and so there is a lot of commonality there; I understand what they are going through.”

As a former student turned nurse in the community, Middleton said it is important to help train nurses who are ready to take on the professional role required of the job.

“I just feel at home at Francis Marion,” Middleton said. “Francis Marion will always be my family. I received both of my degrees here and now to be able to give back and help produce these nurses who are going into the community – it is an honor.”

Middleton said she even gets to witness her students taking on their own roles and positions in the hospital system.

“I was actually hospitalized over the summer, and two of my former students ended up being my nurses,” Middleton said.

With her connections with the school as well as Florence as a whole, Middleton said she finds it is imperative to give back to the community.

“I actually volunteer at the Dillon Free Clinic,” Middleton said. “This facility is set up for underprivileged, underserved patients, most of whom are uninsured. They would not be able to have access to healthcare otherwise. I volunteer there several times a month, just as my way of giving back, there is no pay associated with it. I do that along with several of my colleagues in the nursing department.”

Middleton feels it is important to use her clinical skills and teaching skills to grant people without access to learning the ability to learn about health.

“I really enjoy being able to give back to those vulnerable populations who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to have education about health issues and what they can do to prevent health issues,” Middleton said. “It kind of ties back into my love for teaching.”

Middleton just finished her doctorate in nursing at USC Columbia. She pursued this degree with the goal of further educating herself so that she can better educate others.

“I pursued that degree because I feel that, in my role as a nurse educator, it helps me have the most knowledge possible to be able to share with my students,” Middleton said. “The more knowledge I have, I think the more knowledge I can help nurses with as they come through our program.”

Having been with FMU since her time as an undergrad, Middleton plans to stay. Her doctorate will help her further her career and achieve her ultimate dream: having a leadership role in the administration of the nursing school at FMU.

“Ultimately, my goal would be to advance in my role here, and this may be 20 years down the road, but I would love to be the chair of our nursing department, if that opportunity ever arose,” Middleton said. “My long-term goal would be to have some leadership role among the administration.”