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Edinburgh graduate appointed as Director of Nursing in USA

Posted: 3rd April 2017

Sheila Burns photoA graduate from Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, has been appointed as Director of Nursing at Guilford County Jails in North Carolina, USA.

Sheila Burns, who is originally from Linlithgow near Edinburgh, graduated with an MSc Global Health Systems from the Institute for Global Health & Development (IGHD) at QMU in 2016.

Sheila was able to study part-time at QMU over three and a half years, whilst bringing up a young family and balancing the demands of her full-time job.

Sheila achieved a Bachelor of Nursing degree from the University of Glasgow in 1993 and had over five years experience working in nursing for the prison system in Scotland before starting her postgraduate studies at QMU.

Sheila’s significant professional experience, as well as the knowledge acquired studying global health at QMU, has equipped her with the skills and confidence to help vulnerable prisoners across three different locations in North Carolina. She is now putting her dissertation topic ‘health systems and prisons’ into practice by helping over 1,350 inmates, including those in a juvenile detention centre.

Commenting on her experience of studying global health at QMU, Sheila said: “I really wish I’d taken the plunge 10 years ago and signed up to study global health at QMU. My dream of living and working in the USA and improving my employability in the prisoner health sector has finally become a reality.

“By choosing to study at QMU, I really wanted to expand my knowledge of health economics and systems, as well as sociological influences. While researching different courses available, I found that QMU had the exact mix of subjects that interested me. The course also offered a great selection of modules that I hoped would open doors to a different type of career.

“There was so much support offered at QMU, which made the course so much more manageable. The other students also offered an invaluable supportive network, which was positively encouraged by the staff.

“Being surrounded by students from all over the world made a massive impact on how I viewed what I was doing with my life. Studying global health at QMU has equipped me in many ways I didn’t realise were possible. My knowledge level and appreciation of global health issues have expanded beyond anything I could have imagined beforehand.”

In the future, Sheila wants to continue advocating for best practice in care for prisoners in the USA. She has also started to make connections with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University to encourage further prisoner health research.

Institute for Global Health & Development (IGHD)
For more information on the Institute for Global Health & Development (IGHD) at QMU and postgraduate study opportunities, visit:

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