Nurse Rachel Ward-Mitchell’s Story

I started working with people with epilepsy without any intention to make it my specialty. I took a position as a nurse at the University of Kentucky on a busy medical surgical unit which also housed our epilepsy monitoring unit, where I stayed for 7 years. At the end of those seven years, I was approached by the newly appointed epilepsy program director, Dr. Meriem Bensalem-Owen, to help create a position to meet the demands of the large volume of epilepsy patients she was seeing in her practice.

I took on the role of Epilepsy Nurse Coordinator in January 2010. Since then, we have expanded the program, adding seven epileptologists and will be training our very first fellow this year. We have provided rigorous staff education, community education and outreach, and significantly improved how our patients receive epilepsy care at the University of Kentucky. Under amazing leadership, our EEG lab has become ABRET accredited and a rich learning environment for newcomers and observers. We are also in the early stages of design for a new epilepsy monitoring unit. As we continue to grow, so does the opportunity for improvement, of which our team is truly cohesive.

I am passionate about advocating for people and families affected by epilepsy. I have spent the better part of 17 years involved in epilepsy care and all of the nuances and complexities of the condition. I understand how disrupting it can be to a person and those around them. I started a support group and host community events for families affected. I spend a lot of hours outside of the hospital working on solutions to problems our patients face.

I am currently transitioning to practice back at the bedside to meet the needs in the case of a surge in COVID patients. I am otherwise proud mother to a 10-year old boy, scout leader, wife to Mike, and owner of two beautiful and sweet dogs, Bodie (19) and Mingo (9).