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STUDENT LIFE: Finding Your Way

Hyun-Kyoung Oh
Hyun-Kyoung Oh

For many students, leaving the comfort and familiarity of their hometown to pursue a college degree can initially be a daunting experience. New surroundings, new responsibilities, greater academic expectations … it can feel like a whole new world.

Now imagine going through this intense, sometimes intimidating higher education experience in another country—more than 6,000 miles from home!

Hyun-Kyoung Oh, a Ph.D. student slated to graduate in 2014, has traveled down this sometimes lonely road, and has done much more than just adapted … she has thrived! She recently took time out of her hectic schedule to talk about her time at Iowa, recent accolades, areas of research that have piqued her interest, and where her career path might lead.

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Daejeon, South Korea, and I lived for 28 years. It is the fifth largest city and is located in the center of South Korea. I received my BSN (2003) and MSN (2008) degrees from Chungnam National University College of Nursing in Daejeon.

Why did you select the University of Iowa to pursue your degree(s)?
In my country, the UI College of Nursing is very popular and reputable to people in the nursing profession. It is also well known for great senior alumni. That is why my Korean mentors recommended that I go here and introduced me to Dr. Sue Moorhead, my wonderful advisor. Plus, after searching the UI, I loved the environment.

How would you describe your educational experience at UI?
It’s always amazing and exciting for me to learn new things. Most faculty members are so kind and intelligent, and they provide me with lots of information and new perspectives in every class. In my first semester in particular, Dr. Lioness Ayres told me that I am a little scholar, not a student anymore. Her statement blew my mind and it motivated me to expand my perspective, academically. I have also been fortunate to meet excellent friends and colleagues. They have given me emotional support. Because of their support, I’ve been able to focus on my studies without the depression or loneliness that can come from being so far from home.

If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

You were recently selected as a Ballard Seashore Fellow. What does that mean to you personally and professionally?
On the day I completed my comprehensive exam, I got an email about the fellowship … 10 days before its deadline! I had very little time to prepare the application for this fellowship so I didn’t really expect to win. When I heard the good news, I was surprised and very happy. My family and my advisor were so proud of me.

I think that this fellowship has given me a great responsibility to complete my dissertation within the limited time; to study my interests in order to support nurses and patients; and to contribute to development of nursing for the future.

What specific areas of nursing research have piqued your interest?
Nursing administration and nursing informatics: standardized nursing languages and nursing documentation systems; and, interesting population: people with metabolic syndrome

Is this what you presented on at MNRS last year?
I’ve attended MNRS since 2011, and I was a poster presenter the last two years. Thankfully, my abstracts were selected to represent the UI College of Nursing. Last year, I presented a poster titled “A Structural Equation Model of Quality of Life in Adults with Type-2 Diabetes.” The focus of this poster was to develop a predictive model and to test this model in which self-efficacy and the performance of self-care management activities predict quality of life of individuals with type-2 diabetes. It won second place in the PhD student poster competition.

Tell us a bit about your recently published paper in Applied Nursing Research.
After my poster presentation at MNRS in 2012, my Korean mentors and I worked for publication based on the poster. We developed a predictive model and tested a structural equation model (a statistical analysis method used to determine relationships among variables). Main variables were self-efficacy, self-care activities, and quality of life. A target population was adults with type-2 diabetes in Korea. The results were that the model explains 20 percent of the variance in quality of life and self-efficacy and showed positive effect on self-care management activities (96 percent). The findings indicated that self-efficacy and self-care activities play important roles in explaining quality of life. Thus, nursing strategies to increase quality of life should contain self-efficacy enhancement to promote the performance of self-care activities.

Who or what inspires you?
Two Korean mentors: Dr. Rhayun Song and Dr. Sukhee Ahn. I met them during my MSN program. At the time, I wanted to change my job from a nurse to a lawyer to help patients resolve unfair medical situations; however, they noticed my talent for teaching students effectively and actively participating in research projects. So, they recommended I enter the Ph.D. program rather than law school. I believe they were right because I love teaching and studying. I’ve worked with them for several research projects, and they have always encouraged me to keep working toward my goals. I always thank them for guiding me toward a career in research.

Describe what you would consider to be your most memorable day at UI.
I would have to say my first Hawkeye football game in 2010. Me and my friend, Renata, who is from Brazil, were invited to the game by Dr. Moorhead. Even though the day was rainy and chilly, I was very excited because the atmosphere was like a festival. It was my first time watching a football game, and I didn’t know any of the rules at the time, so, I asked a lot of questions … and Dr. Moorhead’s husband answered all of them … for nearly four hours!

The game took place only one month after I had moved to Iowa. At that time I was feeling pretty lonely; however, thanks to the emotional support from Dr. Moorhead, her husband, and Renata, I was able to adapt to my new life in Iowa much more smoothly.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to read and watch animations.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Within five years, I would like to be teaching health policy or a subject related to nursing administration to college students. Learning about health policy and nursing administration helps students gain political perspective and increases preparation for leadership roles in nursing. Also, I want to continue my research on people with chronic diseases and the nurses who take care of them.

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Posted On: 
Nov 25th, 2013