on – Barbara J. Fletcher, RN, MN, FAHA, FPCNA, FAAN

In her illustrious 45-year nursing career, Barbara J. Fletcher is especially proud of her tenure as chair of the AHA’s Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing Council’s program committee from 1988-91.

“Through this committee, I believe I helped to propel nursing within the AHA,” said Fletcher, clinical associate professor at the University of North Florida, Brooks College of Health, School of Nursing, in Jacksonville. “I think many viewed cardiovascular nursing differently after my years on the program committee.”

Her work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2009, Fletcher received the AHA National Award of Meritorious Achievement. She was honored again in 2013 for her efforts to increase nurse participation in the AHA’s stroke-related activities.

Fletcher is the immediate past president of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association and has worked to prevent cardiovascular disease through research, teaching and volunteering her entire career.

“I want to believe that in some small way I will have played a part in reaching this goal,” she said.

To that end, she has conducted seminal studies on the effects of exercise in cardiac patients. She also has led several multidisciplinary research projects addressing cardiovascular risk factors.

Fletcher is a research nurse consultant specializing in cardiovascular disease at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. She previously served as program director for the cardiac rehabilitation program at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia after a stint at Emory University in Atlanta, where she helped launch and coordinate the school’s cardiac rehabilitation program.

“Nursing gives you so many opportunities — to teach, to do research and to practice nursing,” she said. “There are so many facets of nursing. It fits a team approach. That gives you a lot of camaraderie and experiences you wouldn’t get somewhere else.”

Fletcher’s AHA involvement began in 1975 as chair of the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing Development Committee. Most recently, she traveled to China to foster relationships with cardiovascular nurses and develop connections between the AHA and Chinese hospitals.

“It was most educational and rewarding for me, and I hope for them as well,” she said.

Fletcher credits the AHA for helping to launch her career. She’s paying it forward by mentoring younger professionals in her AHA network and volunteering her time.

“The AHA gives you an avenue to begin to achieve your professional and academic goals, if not to solidify the achievement of the goals,” she said. “For anybody on a career path, they need to belong to at least one or two professional organizations such as the AHA to fulfill their career goals.”


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