The wonderful things I have to say about Cara Busenhart are singularly limited by my constrained time allotment for things not directly related to schoolwork. I have never nominated anyone for an award, but during this tenuous time I feel it is necessary to highlight gratitude for my professor.
Dr. Busenhart has the rare ability to simultaneously juggle a position of power and relatability. Rarely will conversations with Dr. Busenhart wrap up in their allotted time. That's how much she cares about her students and their lives, she wants to get to know you. She has, more than once, become more of a therapist than a professor.
She is innately happy. There have never been times I have seen the stresses of life truly impact Dr. Busenhart's mood. She takes every good with the bad and manages to create half full glasses out of empty ones.
Most importantly, she has a true love of her students. Recently, we had the incredibly unfortunate experience of losing a classmate. I cannot begin to describe how disheartening this experience has been. This has truly impacted our class morale and general wellness. She will be terribly missed and nothing will replace her presence. However, in a time of incredible stress and sadness, Dr. Busenhart managed to reach every single midwifery student in the class, ensuring we were able to express our thoughts and our feelings. She incorporated counselors in a Blackboard Collaborate session. She cried alongside us, she laughed alongside us, she shared stories alongside us. We expressed our deepest concerns, and Dr. Busenhart truly listened. More than once she has told us how much she loves us, and we all feel that. Dr. Busenhart's grace in this unexplainably terrible situation makes us proud and lucky to be her students.
Her powerful and influential presence at the University of Kansas School of Nursing has been long recognized. These opinions of mine, which were quickly developed and built upon over years, have been expressed multiple times without her direct knowledge of these recognitions. Here is an excerpt from a paper I previously submitted regarding nursing leadership:
"One of the most significant influences of my life has been working alongside Cara Busenhart. The greatest facilitator of nursing leadership is excellence in mentorship. Accessing and relating to a mentor throughout school and a career helps to develop and guide future nurse leaders. While Dr. Busenhart maintains an avid enthusiasm for midwifery and possesses the ability to engage the interest of someone believing midwifery to be inconsequential, she also demonstrates flawless leadership in nursing. While she may be very decorated with accolades and recognitions, this is not why I believe her to be a nurse leader. Throughout the short time in my life knowing her, she has demonstrated the power of hard work and the ideology that having an unpopular opinion does not mean you need to be quiet. I believe Dr. Busenhart often challenges avenues of practice fixed in 'the way things have always been'. A true nurse leader examines the norm and redirects the future to reflect growth in evidence-based knowledge and practice. For example, Dr. Busenhart played a pivotal role in establishing midwifery practice at the University of Kansas Health System. Fortunately, 'no' is not an answer she commonly accepts, and because of this, many more patients, nurses, physicians, etc., will see the power and positive impact midwifery care can possess. Having this positive and experienced influence has been a salient facilitator for growing in nursing leadership."
My thoughts are not limited to myself. Over the many years I have had the pleasure of "working" alongside her, I have had numerous students express their love and gratitude for Dr. Busenhart. With the current climate, and student's dynamic schedules, I would not be surprised if this was a singular nomination, when traditionally this nomination would present in multitudes. Because of this, I have reached out to some other classmates to ask their opinions of her... here is what they wanted to share:
"Even though she is the head of the midwifery program we all feel important to her. Her lectures are always engaging and entertaining because she loves what she does."
"Cara is not just a professor, she is an advisor, a mentor, a friend, a counselor, and a motivational speaker. She makes a connection with students that transcends what is required. She strives to grow us not just as academics, but as humans too. Her curriculum challenges us not just in pathophysiology but in professionalism, awareness, and leadership. She teaches us to become aware of our own bias and challenges us to become more well-rounded individuals. She recognizes the trials the students face and helps us prioritize and isn't afraid to tell us to prioritize family over school. She is an advocate for us as students and truly listens to our concerns. She is exceptionally empathetic and somehow makes me grow in empathy, too.
"She encourages us to develop a community and teaches us how to embrace the midwife model of care not just as providers but in our day to day lives. She explains the complex issues facing midwives today and shows us how to stay up-to-date and educated about the issues of today. I think anyone who meets Cara knows how meaningful she is as an advisor or professor. She makes an impact that makes you want to do whatever she is doing. I joke that Cara could convince anyone to become a midwife because her passion for the profession is contagious. For instance, I teach clinicals to the undergraduates and after having a guest lecture from Cara, more than half of my group was asking me dozens of questions about how to pursue a career in midwifery."
"Cara's zeal for teaching and expanding nursing as a profession is truly contagious. She goes above and beyond in every aspect of education and mentorship. I know that even after graduation she will be an excellent source of information and support. She builds each of her students up and helps us develop into the best well-rounded care providers we can be."
"If I can someday be half the provider Cara is, I will be extremely pleased with my career."
"It doesn't matter that I don't want to be a midwife, she makes me feel like I matter."
"There is no one we would rather trudge through this vastly ambiguous time with. Paraphrasing Dr. Busenhart's famous words... she does hard things, we belong to her."