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Nurse Educator Believes in Helping Patients Live Well

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Kristina Fortes loves nursing.

“It’s something I thought I would always do,” says the 25-year nursing veteran, who is now teaching pathophysiology — the study of disease and how it affects different tissues — and physical assessment this fall at Cal State Fullerton.

Fortes has served in intensive care units, emergency rooms and in palliative care. She is a member of the California Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing Association and Center to Advance Palliative Care.

She earned her BSN at Cal State Stanislaus and her MSN — family nurse practitioner — at Sonoma State University. Fortes completed her doctorate earlier this year at Wilkes University while working.

Her passion for teaching corresponded with earning her master’s degree. “I’ve been teaching for about eight years (at Chabot College, Stanislaus and UC San Francisco),” she notes. “My nursing experience has helped with my teaching.”

What are your research interests?

I’m focused on palliative care and geriatrics — especially the prevention of frailty. (She is a board certified hospice and palliative advanced practice nurse and a gerontological registered nurse.) I am interested in maximizing the quality of life. We can prevent and nearly reverse much of the negative effects that frailty syndrome has on quality of life.

We should all live as long as we can, as well as we can, and when we go, go peacefully.

For my dissertation, “Improving Frailty Recognition in Nurse Practitioner Students,” I studied palliative care and the evaluation of the knowledge base of nurses in long-term care settings, both newly graduated and experienced nurses.

What do you hope students get from your classes/teaching?

I hope to bring a better understanding of palliative care. It’s beyond death and dying. I also hope to have student be able to clinically apply the didactic knowledge they receive in their courses to their practice. I still am a practicing nurse practitioner and utilize (HIPPA maintained) patient incidences in my teaching so that students have real-life scenarios that tie into the particular lesson being studied.

What would you like the general public to know about nursing?

Nursing is much more than the care of an individual. It encompasses the patient, family and community. We’re there to help them live the best that they can.

Nursing is a multifaceted career — caregiver, educator and advocate — and it is one of the most trusted professions. I think it’s great that we’re so trusted but it means that we must commit to being lifelong learners to keep up with the research, so that we can help our patients live their best.