Freeman values listening to patients and students

Sarah Freeman

Sarah Freeman received the University Scholar/Teacher award, among Emory's highest faculty honors, during commencement this year.

Whether dealing with decisions about hormone replacement therapy, heart transplants, or end-of-life issues, Sarah Freeman PhD ARNP FAANP has learned to listen to her patients.

"Once I hear my patients' stories, everything starts to make perfect sense—even research findings that I didn't anticipate," says Freeman, the Betty Tigner Turner Clinical Professor of Nursing. 

Students and colleagues have long admired Freeman for her listening, teaching, and research skills, for which she received the 2012 University Scholar/Teacher award, sponsored by the United Methodist Church Board of Higher Education and Ministry, during commencement. She is the second nursing faculty member to receive the honor. The first was Laura Kimble PhD RN FNP-C FAHA, selected in 2004 for establishing the emergency nurse practitioner program.

Freeman, who specializes in women's health and chronic disease management, was instrumental in establishing national accreditation for advanced practice nursing programs. She is also a faculty fellow at the Emory Center for Ethics, reflecting her research interests in how to apply the outcomes of evidence-based medicine and ethical decision-making.

"Nursing is a practice discipline and a dynamic field," says Freeman, who worked as a labor and delivery nurse for many years. "It doesn't take long to lose validity with your students or to fall behind. A large part of teaching is role modeling what it means to be a practitioner."

The most valuable lesson she imparts to students is a love of lifelong learning. "Developing a student's inquisitive mind is one of the most important things a teacher has to do," she says.

Torn between becoming a nurse or a teacher after high school, Freeman soon discovered she could do both. After spending 30 years as a family nurse practitioner, she can't imagine giving up her clinical practice and continues to work one day a week at the Feminist Women's Health Center in Atlanta.

The nurse practitioner movement is rooted in caring for vulnerable patients, including women who cannot find care anywhere else and helping them prevent unwanted pregnancies. 

"Nurse practitioners provide a way of filling in the gap," Freeman says. "I like to say that everybody deserves the care of a nurse practitioner."—Mary Loftus

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