Rachel Kunkle

Rachel Kunkle is a BSN to PhD student in UNMC’s College of Nursing. She is also a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Claudia Chaperon.

Current credentials and degrees: MHA, BSN, GRN, RN-BC
Hometown: Elkhorn, Nebraska
Twitter handle: @RaeTheRN
Anticipated Graduation Date: December 2022
Research interest: Formal caregiver burden among nursing assistants in the nursing home.
Plans after graduation: I plan on seeking a position with an academic institution where I can best use the skills I have acquired during my PhD education.

Why I chose a PhD in nursing:

I chose a PhD in nursing as it would provide me the opportunity to influence nursing practice and the care of older adults as well as influence policy and decision making in long-term care.

Research/professional interests:

I am interested in formal caregiver burden among direct care staff in nursing homes. I want to know what burden is, how to measure it effectively and its impact on patient care and patient safety.

How I fell in love with gerontology:

I have worked in long-term care since I was 15. I learned very early the lessons learned from listening to the older adults are immensely important. They became my family. I could say that my love for gerontology started early as both of my parents worked in nursing home since I was born. They would bring me to the nursing home to visit "my grandparents" when I was a toddler. This continued throughout my childhood as we (my brothers and sisters) would volunteer in the local nursing homes. We would play BINGO, have popcorn parties and assist with the weekly church services. This love guided my career decisions and I have spent the majority of my career in long-term care.

What I like about UNMC:

What I love most about UNMC is the faculty. They care so much about their students and have a desire for them to succeed in their careers. Their mentorship is invaluable!

Professional memberships:

  • Sigma Theta Tau
  • Midwest Nursing Research Society
  • Gerontological Society of America
  • American Nursing Association
  • Nebraska Nursing Association
  • The American Geriatrics Society

Three things people may not know about me:

  • I am a board-certified Geriatric Resource Nurse.
  • I am a Certified Dementia Practitioner.
  • I am a licensed Nursing Home and Assisted Living Administrator.