There is no formula for what makes a good nurse, according to Trina Kumodzi, Ph.D., RN, CCRN. What makes you a good nurse is what makes you different.
"When entering this profession, you would be surprised at how it turns out. How you turn out,” Trina says. “Nursing is a constant discovery. There are things I’m still finding out every day.”
It's a vital perspective to pass down to the next generation of nurses, which Trina does as an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. With an impressive resume and commitment to training the next generation of nurses, it might seem evident that Trina would be a 2022 Goldfarb Young Alumni Award recipient — except for Trina. “When I got the email, I thought, Is this real?” She recalls. “I didn’t say anything. Two days later, I finally told my husband.”
The award was humbling.
“I’m so excited. I feel renewed in the work that I’m doing,” Trina says. “It was the validation of the community. I didn’t have to do any work but be myself.”
Please join us in congratulating Trina as one of our 2022 Young Alumni Award recipients.
A New Life
Nursing wasn’t part of Trina’s vision for where her life would go — at least, at first. After graduating from Columbia University with her undergrad degree, she went into personal finance. Her husband, whom she had met in New York, was in the same industry. Then, a friend told her about nurse-midwifery.
“I had never heard of that,” she says. “I had never met a nurse practitioner.”
Trina believes it is because unless you are sick, you don’t usually meet a nurse, and you don’t have an opportunity to learn what a nurse does. But after talking with her friend, she knew it was something she wanted to pursue. (Shortly after, her husband decided to make the same pivot and study nursing, too.)
When Trina went on maternity leave after having her second daughter, she began tackling the prerequisites for nursing school, eventually enrolling in a community college in Maryland to receive her ADN. Nursing, she and her husband saw, could offer them a new kind of lifestyle, one that allowed them to be there for their family and have a positive influence on the world.
“We wanted to be there for our children, and we want to do good things,” she says. “Nursing offered that. “We could be present and active in their lives while doing work that we could be proud of.”
Breaking Down Barriers
Trina didn’t expect to find Goldfarb. What she was trying to find was a video.
During her second semester pursuing her ADN, she searched for a video on physical assessment.
“The first and the best video was by Goldfarb,” she says. Some research and an ADN later, she was enrolled in Goldfarb’s BSN program.
There are not as many differences between personal finance and nursing as you might think. Both of them can help people and make a difference in their lives. “In finance, you can make people’s dreams come true. You give them access to money,” she says.
Personal finance also teaches you how to get people comfortable — fast.
“You have to break down those barriers,” she says. “In nursing, you’re going to see people naked in 20 seconds. Personal finance gave me an edge. I was also very calm on the nursing floor,” she adds.
While on the nursing floor, Trina began to notice that the same people would make consistent hospital visits due to violence.
“So much research is geared towards getting people healthier faster, but not enough research is geared towards prevention," Trina says.
Due to this lack, Trina began dedicating her research to studying violence prevention, including creating a database on violence in the Caribbean. Her work also delves into the impact of violence on the mind, taking a holistic approach to studying the ongoing ramifications of trauma. She is committed to helping people do preventative work so that they do not have to spend as much time in the hospital.
Trina continued her work on violence prevention while receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
Making the Grade
Trina was so determined to complete her Ph.D. that she commuted 4 hours each way to Charlottesville, VA to Baltimore MD as a full-time student. She then completed her postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania before accepting her first full-time faculty position at the University of Maryland.
Like nursing, teaching requires adaptation: learning how to reach a new generation and how to distill information in a way that appeals to and speaks to them.
Her daughters are a source of inspiration, one of whom she had while at Goldfarb. “They keep me inspired, keep me thinking, and keep me empathetic,” she says.
"There are elements of nursing that can't be taught in a textbook. Being a successful nurse is more than just intelligence, compassion, and knowledge. It’s also about having a curious mind, flexibility, and tenacity — and knowing that there’s no right way for these characteristics to look. That’s what brings diversity to nursing,” says Trina.
It’s a philosophy that’s been fundamental to her career and one she’s seen embodied by nurses she’s admired. She remembers once meeting nurses she had written papers on, awed by their contributions to history. Much like her reaction to winning the Young Alumni Award, their reaction to being celebrated was a surprise: they weren’t trying to win recognition. They were doing their jobs.
“You’re just living your life every day,” Trina says. “You’re just trying every day.”
We are honored to present Trina with the Young Alumni Award at Homecoming on September 23, 2022.