Sheena Twitchell is the daughter of Christine Pitka Twitchell of Galena and Jerry Twitchell of Roosevelt, Utah. Her maternal grandparents are Laura and Edward Pitka of Galena, and her paternal grandparents are Virginia and Edward Twitchell of Beaver, Utah.
Sheena is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) who earned her Master of Science in Nursing degree in 2022 from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She received support from the Doyon Foundation’s Morris Thompson scholarship.
Doyon Foundation: Explain a bit about your interest in nursing. How did you gravitate to a career in health care? Where do you see it leading you?
Sheena Twitchell: I chose nursing because of its holistic model of care to treat the whole patient with a mind-body-spirit approach to healing. I am able to help people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. Attaining a higher level of education and training means I can do more to help people achieve a healthy, abundant life.
Becoming a medical provider has been a personal goal since I was young. I loved being an IHS public health nurse and serving tribes and communities; however, I knew it was time to continue my education to fulfill my goal of becoming a provider.
What I find most interesting about my field is that there are numerous specialties to pursue – a Family Nurse Practitioner may work with patients in primary care, geriatrics, women’s health or pediatrics. Or one could specialize in dermatology, integrative medicine, surgery, or even pursue research. My long-term plans include becoming a nurse entrepreneur and obtaining a PhD in Nursing.
DF: We’ve heard so much about how nurses and nursing students rose to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. What was it like for you? What insights did you gain?
ST: The pandemic was the biggest challenge I faced during my education. I was blessed with the opportunity to vaccinate many tribal communities and help many positive COVID-19 patients through their recoveries. Working full time as a public health nurse during the pandemic and balancing the high demands of a master’s program taught me a lot about perseverance and the importance of self-care to prevent burn-out and improve efficiency.
DF: Volunteering is an important part of your role as a nurse practitioner.
ST: Yes. I developed a trauma-informed care project to help healing from historical and intergenerational traumas that are present for many people and tribes. I continue to volunteer as a cultural advocacy committee member in Phoenix while also taking part in community service projects through my church. I also plan to continue volunteering for medical mission trips to underserved areas once I’m licensed as a nurse practitioner.
DF: What would you tell others about the Morris Thompson scholarship? How has it helped you?
ST: This scholarship means the world to me! It has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a nurse practitioner and being able to help hundreds and eventually thousands of people with their health care needs. Thank you, Doyon Foundation and the Morris Thompson scholarship, for supporting me through my educational endeavors in nursing!
Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students forward their education. The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s event takes place June 23 – 24 in Fairbanks. There are opportunities to support the golf classic as a sponsor or volunteer; learn more and sign up at doyonfoundation.com/mtmgc.
You may also support the scholarship fund by making a secure online donation on our website or by mailing a check to Doyon Foundation, 615 Bidwill Ave., Suite 101, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701. To direct your donation to the Morris Thompson scholarship fund, simply note “Morris Thompson scholarship fund” in the notes section of the online form or on the memo line of your check. Thank you for supporting our students!