Just Like Your Mother: Wyatts Found their Niche in the College of Nursing

Nursing Professor Tami Wyatt grew up watching relatives who were nurses and wanting to be like them.

Her daughter, Rachael, tried to squelch the desire to follow in those footsteps—until she arrived at UT and decided nursing really was for her.

A UT faculty member since 2004, Wyatt holds the Torchbearer Professorship in Nursing in the College of Nursing. She is the assistant dean, director of graduate studies, chair of the master’s program, and co-director of the Health Information Technology and Simulation (HITS) Lab. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

tami and rachel wyatt

Tami Wyatt, left, and Rachael Wyatt, right. In the middle is Rachael’s boyfriend, Ryan Hodges, also a UT graduate.

Rachael earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2015 and now works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Erlanger Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga.

As a teenager, Wyatt heard her sister-in-law and her friends telling great stories about being nurses. That inspired her to pursue nursing, and once she was in nursing school, she realized she had a knack for education.

“When I became a nurse, I enjoyed the evening shift the most because I worked with families and taught them basic care of their loved ones and information about their health and wellness,” she said.

Rachael, though, struggled with her the decision to become a nurse.

“It felt like my career was already slightly chosen for me. I fought it as a teen. I wanted nothing to do with nursing, if only to be bold,” she said. “In the end, you can’t deny what seems inevitable.”

Now Rachael loves her career choice.

“I take care of very small and very sick preemie babies. They are the strongest fighters we’ll ever know. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a very sick patient, on the verge of dying, get better and get discharged.”

Wyatt said she was thrilled when her daughter chose nursing.

“My daughter is much more mature and wise than I was at her age,” she said. “She worked hard in nursing school and is more directed in her goals and aspirations than me. She will go far.”

As Mother’s Day approaches, Rachael has this to say to her mom:

“My mom is my most treasured friend, confidante, my most talented and versatile role model, and so very wise. As life usually goes, one day you realize who you are, and it’s exactly like your mother. Your goals, attitude, characteristics, mannerisms, and even physical appearance—it seems to happen overnight! I am often told that I’m ‘just like my mother’ and I couldn’t be more proud of that.”