Saturday, July 19, 2014

Congratulations, Dr. Rachelle Burleson!

This week my wife successfully completed and defended her scholarly project, meeting the requirements for her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Vanderbilt University. After presenting and defending her paper, the committee review team met for a brief period of time, returning with these words, "Congratulations, Dr. Burleson."

10 years ago Rachelle and I were in an injury accident on I-35. While recovering in the hospital at Mercy, OKC, Rachelle fell in love with the manner in which the nurses treated her, and she decided to continue the education she had begun at Baylor University, but laid aside when we married and began a family. When Rachelle finished the requirements for her Bachelor's Degree from Northwestern, Alva, in 2006 she was stopped by the dean who handed her the diploma. I saw a conversation between the two take place on the platform. I later asked Rachelle what was said, and I found out that Rachelle was asked to continue her nursing education and return to be on faculty at Northwestern.

Rachelle did decide to pursue her education, but she began working in the medical field, taking on an the incredibly difficult and intense role of ICU heart recovery nurse with a newly begun open-heart surgery program at a local hospital. The chief open heart surgeon specifically chose her for the program, even though others were concerned with her lack of experience. Rachelle performed her job brilliantly. As she worked full-time, she began taking Masters level nursing courses at Oklahoma University. Upon graduating from the University of Oklahoma with her Masters, Rachelle was the recipient of the 'Einstein Award,' given to the graduate student whom graduate peers voted most scholarly. Rachelle was the only graduate student asked to speak at the commencement ceremonies for the University of Oklahoma.

Upon completion of her Masters, Rachelle went into private practice and worked at a local cardiologist's office, providing patient care for many men and women in the northwest Oklahoma area suffering from heart problems. She decided that she would pursue her doctorate in nursing care and considered several universities across the nation, but applied to only one - Vanderbilt University. Rachelle told me, "There's no way, Wade, they will ever accept me. I applied very late in the game, and it is a coveted medical school." When Vanderbilt admitted Rachelle into their prestigious doctoral program, she told me, "There must have been openings that they needed to fill." On our first trip to Nashville, I heard with my own ears the dean of the nursing program say, "We had hundreds of people apply to our doctoral programs in nursing. You are a very select group of people that we have chosen." I just looked at my wife and smiled (actually, I may have said something).

During the two years that Rachelle has been commuting back and forth from Nashville in pursuit of her doctorate, she has worked full-time, and has also provided invaluable support for me in my ministry to the people of Emmanuel Enid. In addition, her transcripts from Northwestern, Oklahoma University, and Vanderbilt have only A's; a pretty remarkable accomplishment, particularly when the courses at Vanderbilt were demanding, taught by the leading specialists in their respective fields, and no professor used curves when giving grades. They have not yet handed out the scholarly awards from Vanderbilt, but I would not be surprised if Rachelle is not, again, the recipient of one. Rachelle has already been asked by the faculty to prepare an abstract in order to present her paper--An Examination of Nurses Knowledge and Attitudes of Palliative Care in an Acute Care Hospital in a Non-Metropolitan Setting--at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine's national assembly in 2015.

This week Rachelle accepted a tenure-track professorship at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. She will be commuting back and forth, and on occasions staying overnight with the many family members we have in the Edmond area. Though the commute is an hour and fifteen minutes, it will be worth it because her contract runs from August until May. Rachelle will be able to travel with me in the summer, and she also has holidays off during the year. Rachelle has loved her job in Enid, and two people, Chief Nursing Officer, Doug Coffey, and Director of Critical Care, Virginia McCall, have been two of the finest people with whom Rachelle has worked.

My nickname for Rachelle is Dr. Thuya (pronounced Twee-a). My friend Col. Andy Haman gave me some thuya wood for my office when he and his family left Enid for Morocco via Washington, D.C. The Thuya tree only grows in Morocco, and is considered very rare and precious. In fact, it is the only wood that the Rolls Royce will use in their consoles. The Romans coveted the wood because they used it for their sacrifices. When thuya wood is on fire, there is a sweet aroma that wafts throughout the air.

My wife has been on fire these last ten years, and the fragrance she exudes is sweeter than ever. She is a rare human being. People sometimes ask me how Rachelle and I are different. Here's the answer: I walk into a room and think I know everything, but don't; Rachelle walks into a room and doesn't think she knows a thing, but knows everything. We make a pretty good team - as long as Rachelle doesn't leave the room!

Congratulations, Dr. Thuya!

I look forward to the years ahead.



Pege' said...

WOOOO-HOOOO!!! DOING MY HAPPY DANCE!!!I am sharing in the symphony of APPLAUSE and Well-Wishers for Rachelle. Rachelle is among the SHEROS's I have in my life. I have prayed for her these many years and and thrilled at her success. I never had a doubt she would not excel in this endeavor. I wish there were some honors I could present to her that could be added like DR.....hey there is..

Dr. Rachelle Burleson F.R.I.E.N.D.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute! Congratulations Dr. Burleson!

Anonymous said...

Impressive! Congrats from East Coast Ken!

Gordon said...


Thanks for sharing your joy and pride with us on the magnificent achievement of Rachelle. We know she will be quick to acknowledge your unwavering support at all times, and give thanks to God for the new opportunities of service now be open to her.

Perhaps some strips of thuya wood would not be out of place, accompanied, of course, by the rest of the RR !

I have a round pebble box on my desk made from the root burl of the thuya tree . It is most beautiful and has a very pleasant aroma when opened. I'll be thinking of the associations everytime I use it.

I admire Rachelle's choice of nursing specialisation. When Dr Chris Barnard performed the first open-heart transplant, in my hometown in Africa in 1967, he stressed the valuable contribution made by the competence and dedication of the nursing staff. The need increases, and so also the skills improve to bring relief.

Every blessing on Rachelle's future career.


Bob Cleveland said...

Congratulations, Dr. Burleson. It is apparent that you are as motivated and focused and intelligent, as you are attractive.

Victorious said...

Impressive achievements to say the least! Congratulations to you, Dr. Burleson!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the young lady in the pic and thanks to her for letting her elderly relative stay in the home. What an angel.

HOPEfully she didn't let anyone at Vandy try teach her how to shoot a free throw.

Theresa said...

Wow! Congratulations!!

stevenstarkmusic said...


Johnny D. said...

This is awesome! Congratulations, Dr. Burleson!

Andrea Williams said...

Congratulations Rachelle! What a remarkable journey in nursing you have taken. I am just now going back for my master's in nursing and trying to decide on the path I will take. You inspire me! Thanks to your husband for sharing your accomplishments.

Andrea said...

P.S. I would love to read your paper if possible. Could you email it to me or is there a link?

Christiane said...

Wonderful news!
Congratulations to Dr. Rachelle Burleson and to the good family who supported her in her efforts.

Chuck Andrews said...

Congratulation Dr. Rachelle Burleson!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rex Ray said...


Is Wade the wind beneath your wings, or is it the other way around?


I know you’re proud of you wife as every husband should be.

I married mine under falsehood. She thought I liked coffee and was going to be a preacher. The last one had me fooled also.

She got her degree in three years; whereas it took me five.

One night, I learned more in five minutes about being humble than all my college days when the world revolved around me.

She taught school and was taking a class to complete her master’s degree from North Texas State University. We drove 30 miles to the school and the kids and I stayed at my brother’s. The class met from six to nine at night. If she got out on time, I got a 30 minute nap before going to work at LTV. Without the nap made if a very long day.

The teacher started keeping the class till 9:30 pm which upset me quite a bit. One night, I tried to get her out of class at nine but the doors were locked. At 9:30, I met her coming down the stairs but we didn’t speak. She knew I was going to make a fool of myself but she didn’t know how much.

Only the teacher was in this huge room. I didn’t say anything bad, but my teeth were clenched as I explained about the nap. As I opened the door to leave, he said he would try to get them out on time.

I looked back and said, “I SURE WOULD APPRECIATE IT!”
I slammed the door as hard as I could. The hall was so dark I banged my nose into the wall. I had a flashback of the school dorm in Germany that turned the lights off at 10 pm. My angry turned on the school as I thought of breaking a leg trying to go down the stairs.
I felt along the wall as I searched for the stairs but ran into a dead end. I decided I had turned the wrong way and felt my way back until I hit another dead end. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. One door and three walls made one huge closet and I was the only thing in it.

Wade Burleson said...


You, sir, tell the funniest, most profound stories of anyone I know.

You are a preacher - a pretty good one.

Sam Storms said...

Very impressive indeed! Congratulations, Rachelle, on this wonderful accomplishment. But it does beg the question: Who's smarter, Rachelle or Wade? I know the answer, but I'll never tell!

Pastor Mark said...

Outstanding tribute to your wife! The great Scottish preacher Peter Marshall when performing a wedding ceremony, would welcome the newlywed couple to the, “Highest Halls of Human Happiness”. Thankful that you and your wife reside there!

Anonymous said...

Many, many congratulations to the new Doctor :-)

(I went from Ministry to Healthcare last year myself, and finished a doctoral degree in May of this year; now, my ministry is our hospital's staff Monday-Friday, and I am seeking the next "big thing" that needs to be done by someone who will take it on.)

Anonymous said...


This is a big deal!!!!!!!!!!


Ramesh said...

Congrats. The picture reminds me of this movie : Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Dr. Burleson! Ps. Wade, you're truly blessed!

Rex Ray said...

Sam Storms,

I don’t know what you think, but the smartest will take my mother’s advice: “The one that loves most ‘gives in’ first.”


Thanks...I think. Telling of dumb things can be taken two ways. :)

I left so fast I don't know if the teacher had gone for security or was on the floor laughing. But the class started getting out on time.

Pattij553 said...

I just read your post about Rachelle. I am so excited for the both of you with her success. I haven't been able though to quite figure out why I am sobbing over it. Then I I realized I've spent way too much energy fighting against the people who do not want this kind of success for wives. Thankyou Wade so much for posting your glowing report on Rachelle. You will never know the heart medicine it is to me.

Dentysta said...

Congrats to Dr. Burleson! Ps. Wade, you're truly blessed!