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We reunited with alumnus Dr. Drew Bugajski, Ph.D., RN, this week. He received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (2014) and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (2018) from the UK College of Nursing.


Here's what we learned during our talk with Dr. Bugajski: 


What is your current job(s), and what do you find most rewarding about your work? 

I'm the Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Studies at Lakeland Regional Health (LRH). I oversee all research across the system and absolutely love my job! For a nearly 900-bed hospital and accompanying network of clinics, LRH needed a stronger history of research. My role when I began at LRH was to grow research as much as humanly possible, and it is my favorite part of this job. I get immense satisfaction from helping clinicians do research for the first time and helping them generate new knowledge that is meaningful and impactful.


What advice do you have for today's nursing students? 

Walk through every door that opens for you! You never know what opportunities await, and they often exceed any expectations you have. I am adding context since I am passionate about this advice. When I came to UK for undergrad in 2010, I got into nursing because my advisor said I would fit in well--so I switched majors with a "why not?" attitude and ended up loving it.

I never planned on getting my Ph.D., but when Dr. Terrie Lennie at the UK College of Nursing recruited me and found funding for me to attend, I said, "Why not?". It turned out that I love research, too. 

When I graduated from UK with my Ph.D. and started looking for my next opportunity, the University of South Florida in Tampa offered me a job even though I had better opportunities for post-docs or jobs. I said, "Sure. Why not?" and ended up making lifelong friends and connections down here. This decision eventually led me to my dream job at Lakeland Regional Health. If I had refused to step through any of those doors along my journey, I wouldn't be working at my dream job and living a life that I thought was only a possibility in my dreams.


What does it mean to you to be a UK College of Nursing alumnus? 

Immense pride and confidence knowing that my training was top-notch! I regularly compete and work with people with 4, 5, 6, or more advanced degrees from "prestigious" universities or Ivy League schools. When working with those colleagues or competitors, I often feel great pride and satisfaction knowing that UK prepared me to go toe-to-toe with them.

An important part of being an alum from UK, that generates such pride is that my training was immensely grounded in the community and learning how to put myself in their shoes. Even though I am no longer at the bedside, I feel much more connected to the patients and their communities. In no small part, that is a major reason I have had early success in my career, and it is so invaluable to current and future students.


What is one thing you miss about Lexington or UK's Campus?    

Hands down, it's dining at Bourbon N' Toulouse and the weather. Living in Florida, I get hot and hotter all year round, and they don't have the hometown food I so love!


What are one or two fun facts about yourself? 

Hmm, I don't have many. One was when I played basketball at the Johnson Center in 2012. Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilcrest stopped there to play a pickup game. Me and a buddy got into a game with them, and I ended up stealing the ball from Davis, which will forever be the highlight of my sports career!

Another fact is that I was invited to Washington, D.C, as a part of healthcare leaders. I received an Award of Excellence from the Pentagon (Department of Defense) for my healthcare, education, and research leadership.


The UK College of Nursing values its graduates and wants to stay connected with nursing alumni! If you want to be featured in a spotlight, please email our Alumni Program Coordinator today at