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Nurse Practitioner Aims for ‘Something Bigger Than Myself’ for Others

Lauren Durham joined the Student Health Services staff in early August. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Normally, when Lauren Cannon Durham is administering a shot or bandaging a wound, the nurse practitioner is the one asking questions of her patients in the University of Mississippi’s V.B. Harrison Health Center.

Roles reversed recently, however, when a pre-med student having second thoughts about her major asked Durham why she chose to go into her field.

“I told her that I had been challenged by one of my professors to become something bigger than myself for the sake of others,” said Durham, an alumna of both the Oxford campus and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “Whatever she decides to do, I realize that by answering her question, I may have had an impact upon her life. And that feels very rewarding.”

Durham joined the Student Health Services staff in early August and said she is thrilled to be working at her alma mater.

“The very first day I came to work, I knew that this is the right place for me,” she said. “God led me here.”

Before joining the UM staff, Durham worked as a nurse practitioner for two years at Oxford Orthopedic and another two years at RedMed Urgent Clinic. Her skills were recognized when she was a runner-up for the Oxford Chamber of Commerce’s “Best Nurse Practitioner in Oxford” Award.

A few years into her career, Durham began to consider leaving the private sector to work for the university.

“As I was speaking with Ole Miss students who would come into the clinic for various needs, I realized I wanted to do more for them than treat emergency cases,” Durham said. “I love meeting new students and getting to know and bond with them.

“I want to build rapport with the students so that they understand the Student Health Services staff is concerned for their total health and wellness.”

Durham has been a great addition to the Student Health Services team, said Alex Langhart, director of University Health Services.

“She has a great rapport with patients and brings fresh ideas and practices coming from the urgent care setting,” he said. “Lauren’s knowledge and skillset are extremely valuable for our staff and the care she provides students.

“She has been focusing on women’s health, but brings experience in orthopedics as well. I am very impressed with how quickly she has adapted to our system and facility.”

Durham described Langhart and her co-workers as “very welcoming.”

“They have all been extremely helpful and supportive,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m the newbie anymore.”

Durham was born in Windsor, England, and her family moved to Booneville when she was 5. After graduating from high school there, she enrolled at the university and earned her bachelor’s degree in business and marketing in 2009.

“Dr. Raul Govind (a former UM professor) was the one who pushed me to go to grad school,” Durham said. “He was also the one who motivated me to pursue dreams bigger than me for the betterment of others.”

While earning her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee at Memphis, Durham interned for two years at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After graduation, she continued to work there as a nurse for four years.

Durham was twice nominated for the Daisy Award, an honor recognizing nurses for their outstanding care.

She then entered the nurse practitioner’s program at UMMC, where she worked for a year in the survivor clinic for cancer patients.

“While I’ve enjoyed everywhere I’ve ever worked before, being here at Ole Miss is my dream come true,” she said.

UM Student Health Services, housed on the first floor of the V.B. Harrison Student Health Center on Rebel Drive, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call 662-915-7274.

By Edwin B. Smith

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