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DONOR STORIES

Karen L. Starr
MSN, RN, PMHNP

“It always feels good to help someone else.”
Starr, Karen
These words hold meaning for Karen Starr — not only in her career but also in her philanthropic giving.

Several years ago, Karen made the decision to make monthly donations to the STTI Foundation as a Vision Society donor. Karen’s donations support the leadership development of members by helping them attend STTI events and receiving membership benefits through dues assistance.

When asked why she made the decision to give back in this way, her altruistic nature shines through: “I am very blessed. I had help. I had a lot of good circumstances. My husband and I make a good living and we are firm believers in giving back. Helping other men and women in the field of nursing accomplish their goals always feels good.”

Karen’s decision to become a nurse took root early in her life because of her love for the Cherry Ames books. For those who are not familiar with the character Cherry Ames, she was a nurse, amateur sleuth, and member of the Army Nurse Corps. 

Growing up in a military family, Karen never established residency in a state. She had to be granted an exception by the chancellor for admission to the University of Missouri in Columbia. When Karen was inducted into Alpha Iota Chapter, she saw it as more than an honor. She saw it as a way to repay the favor that was granted to her. 

Early on, she felt her membership was an acknowledgement to peers and colleagues of her achievements. “There is an understanding and respect that you worked hard in your undergraduate education to make good grades,” Karen says. In addition, Karen believes STTI research and publications are valuable to her in her field.

Currently, Karen is the Senior Associate in Transplant Psychiatry at the Vanderbilt Transplant Center. Karen’s interest in this field was sparked when helping a friend. “I spent a month helping a friend out on night shifts in an alcohol and drug unit,” she says. “I found I enjoyed it, so, in addition to being a nurse practitioner, I became a licensed drug and alcohol abuse counselor.” Karen sees her current work with transplant patients as a natural progression from working with substance use disorders because there is a correlation between end stage transplant illnesses and addiction.

Karen’s love for her work shows through when speaking about her patients: “They have so many challenges with their health, and yet, for the most part, they are able to maintain a really positive attitude.”

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