Karen Coppley, RN, PHN oral history 2010
Interview with Karen Coppley (0:00-2:34)
KM: …a nursing student. We are in Wilmington, North Carolina right now conducting an
interview. It’s October 28th, 2010 and we are at the Public Health Association Conference.
What is your name?
KC: Karen Coppley.
KM: What year were you born?
KM: And where did you grow up?
KC: I grew up in Randolph County, North Carolina.
KM: Why did you decide to become a nurse?
KC: Well I really don’t know. It sounded like it would be exciting. I don’t have a real reason. I
didn’t have a mentor who was a nurse.
KM: Where did you go to nursing school?
KC: University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
KM: Tell us a little bit about your nursing education as it relates to your community and public
KC: UNCG was big school that pushed public health nursing. Our dean, Dean Lewis, loved
public health nursing. At one time you could find public health nurses from UNCG all over
North Carolina. We could have an alumni association at our health department.
KM: Why did you decide to become a public health nurse?
KC: I loved it when I was in college. That was one of my best rotations, and I knew that’s what I
wanted after I graduated.
KM: tell us about your first job in community health.
KC: It’s where I work now, at Davidson County health department. I have been there now 30
years. I love it. I’ve always liked public health nursing. We have hands-on nursing and we work
very independently. We don’t work under all that hospital type nursing.
KM: What is your current position?
KC: I’m the communicable disease supervisor for Davidson County Health Department.
KM: What’s your most memorable story about community health nursing, if you have one?
KC: Well I have several, but I think we truly look at the whole family. It’s not just going in to
see one individual patient for one disease or whatever. We look at the whole family. Sometimes
you can make a big difference with the whole family, you know. You go in and talk to the mom
about family planning and immunizations, and even check on the dogs and the cats to see if they
have rabies vaccine.
KM: Very good. If you had to do it again would you be a community health nurse?
KM: Definitely? Good. Is there anything else you would like to share with nurses in the future
who are interested in community health nursing?
KC: Community health nursing is where it’s at. You can always do other types of nursing, but
public health is very important. It’s a very rewarding nursing profession.
KM: Alright, well thank you so much for your time.
KC: Okay thank you.