Renee Twibell graduated from Ball State University in 1984. She is currently employed by both IU Health as a Nurse Scientist and Ball State University as an Associate Professor Emerita and adjunct faculty. She was recently selected as one of two recipients of the Ball State University School of Nursing Outstanding Alumni for 2024. 

Renee’s career aspirations began with a medical drama that she binge-watched one summer in junior high. At first, she was inspired by the excitement of it, the thrill of watching the characters solve medical mysteries. But as she continued her education, she discovered that not only did she love the process of doing research, she was also really good at it! This is how a love for research was born and began to blossom into her illustrious career.  

A research career may not have been what Renee originally expected to achieve, but it soon became clear that this was the career she was uniquely suited for. After completing her doctoral program, one of the first Nurse Researcher roles in Indiana was created just for her and her specific skillset. Now, she holds another unique role, that of Nurse Scientist in the East Central Region of Indiana University Health.  

How Was Renee’s Career Assisted by Ball State Faculty?

During her program at Ball State, Renee had the opportunity to work closely with the then-chair of the graduate program, Dr. Marilyn Ryan. From Dr. Ryan, Renee learned to blend clinical inquiry with academic scholarship and gathered critical tools for her future career, proving that it isn’t just about which opportunities present themselves in one’s education, but how one uses them.  

“Dr. Ryan was a key influence in my professional development,” Renee recalls. “She added me to her research teams, met with me weekly to teach me all phases of the research process, and taught me to deliver national presentations and publish research results in journals.” As a young graduate student, Renee found it so empowering to be able to create a proposal and research study and have the tools to disseminate her findings to a global audience

The Master’s in Nursing at Ball State prepared Renee very well for her future careers as a nurse, educator, researcher, and scientist, including her tenured faculty position where she has served for several decades.  

“I believe strongly that my teaching was enhanced by staying clinically relevant,” Renee explains about her choice to pursue more than one path at a time throughout her career. “While a full-time faculty member, I continued to work as a clinical nurse. I chose to practice clinically in whatever area I was teaching at the time. So when I taught undergraduate critical care, I practiced in critical care.  When I began teaching the research courses in the graduate degree program, I wanted to practice as a researcher.” 

Why is this important? “My joint roles in the clinical and academic settings have been highly meaningful for me, as I can support the systematic development of new knowledge that directly impacts patient care environments,” Renee explains.  

What Else Has Renee Proudly Accomplished During Her Career?

Renee is proud, though humble, when it comes to listing her accomplishments and the special honors she has received during her career. She speaks of her accomplishments as team efforts earned alongside her colleagues at Ball State and Indiana University Health. Some of her accomplishments include completing a PhD and earning tenure in her early career, being selected as Nurse Educator of the Year in Indiana, receiving the Excellence in Caring Award from her national critical care organization, delivering over 280 professional presentations in her career so far and publishing 35 articles in professional journals, as well as obtaining research funding and winning additional recognitions for publication, outstanding faculty service, research, and more

As a testament to Renee’s graceful humility, when asked why she initially chose Ball State as her educational partner, this is what she responded: “While a novice critical care nurse from a neighboring state, I attended an educational nursing session at Ball State University one winter evening.  It was the first time I had been to the campus. I learned so much and met some of the nursing faculty. I decided to pursue my master’s degree at Ball State because of the inclusivity of the faculty and their depth of knowledge of clinical practice, education and research. This one decision has made all of my professional endeavors possible!”