Student Profile: Ann McWhorter

By Christi Richardson

Ann McWhorter

Years ago, soon after Ann McWhorter had accepted a spot at Harvard Law School, her life and ambitions changed. Her mother had a massive stroke, and McWhorter, a new college graduate, left her newspaper job to act as daytime caregiver while her father worked. From the ER through the ICU, the neurology unit, skilled nursing and home care, McWhorter saw how nurses touch the lives of patients and families at their most vulnerable moments and make some of the most traumatic turning points in life more tolerable.

McWhorter graduated with a degree in law and spent 22 years practicing, first as a litigator in an East Coast law firm, and later in corporate practice. Throughout her law career, McWhorter felt a constant pull toward nursing. Yet, the timing for a career change wasn’t right until more recently.

McWhorter said she is drawn to working with older adults and their families and with palliative care. As she gains experience, she hopes to use her leadership skills to help in a broader way. McWhorter enjoys working with people of all ages, but she said she views the last decades of life as its culmination. "Like in a good book, our lives and values can finally coalesce into the most interesting, insightful chapters as we near the end," she said. McWhorter’s experiences also taught her how it feels to deeply love someone with significant loss of memory and function. She said, "I learned to work around those losses to find and enjoy the memories and capacities that remain." She hopes that as a nurse she can help make the last part of life as meaningful and comfortable as possible for patients and their families. In this, her second career, she hopes to make her own highest and best contribution.

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