Keeping on the Right Path: Bridget Swindell celebrates 45 years of nursing excellence

Bridget Swindell’s 45-year career is a prime example of the multiple career paths available to nurses at VUMC. Bridget received her nursing degree from the University of Louisville.  She began her career as a bedside nurse in Medical Center North — what was then the 'main hospital' — and then transitioned over the years to become a Research Nurse Specialist for the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR).

“I worked as a nurse on a Neuro-Orthopedic ward, transferred to the Medical Intensive Care Unit when the new hospital opened, and four years later moved to the Post Anesthesia Recovery Room.  In 1986, I started working with Dr. Gordon Bernard in Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care doing clinical research and that started my career in research.  I began recruiting study participants in the Intensive Care Units for sepsis and acute lung injury trials, then transitioned to coordinating center work, which evolved into supporting international trials.”

Bridget said she applied for and received offers at both VUMC and St. Thomas after graduation but chose VUMC.  “I'm really glad I made that choice; it’s been amazing," she said. "I never would have thought that as a nurse I would have the opportunity to work with people from around the world, but I have, and it's been a wonderful experience. Plus, I can't think of better team to work with than the people that I've worked with at Vanderbilt. There's so much knowledge, caring and innovation that they all bring to the table, and they are willing to freely share with others. This is a great place to work and a great team to work with.  You work hard, and you feel like you're making a difference.”

Bridget’s bedside experience and her years helping to coordinate multisite clinical research now allow her to help other research teams. Currently, Bridget is working on several important projects, including an Alzheimer’s study with Dr. Consuela Wilkins. As part of the Research Support Services team, she helps connect researchers with resources for their studies and fields calls and emails from the public who are seeking study opportunities. 

She is also part of the Trial Innovation Network team managing monthly study related webinars and supporting researchers with the single IRB process using the IRB Reliance Exchange (IREx) platform.  She believes caring for patients and collaboration with colleagues as both a bedside nurse and research nurse has been her greatest professional accomplishments.

Emily Serdoz, assistant director of VICTR, has worked with Bridget for more than10 years, and had this to say, “Bridget always goes above and beyond the call of duty with a focus on quality and excellence. I thoroughly enjoy working with and learning from Bridget. She is an irreplaceable part of the Vanderbilt research community. Her commitment and dedication are palpable and positively impacts her colleagues. She's just a delightful person who genuinely cares about the well-being of her team members, Vanderbilt, and research participants.”

Among her personal achievements is recruiting her daughter Carly Swindell to work at VUMC as well.

“Carly's a very talented artist, and she is exceptionally creative. She really enjoys being at Vanderbilt and has worked on several of the defining personalized care projects, such as Exceptional Jo,” Bridget said. “I told both my kids, ‘come to Vanderbilt. This is a great place to work.’”  Bridget plans to retire early next year to spend more time with her husband Dan traveling and enjoying family and friends!