Dr. Megan Conner ’05 BSN, ’09 MSN, ’15 PhD
In 1985, Anna Lou and Arthur Cassell and their daughter Sara Lee and son-in-law Paul Saperstein established the Cassell/Saperstein Scholarship Fund for UNCG’s School of Nursing, in memory of Mrs. Cassell’s parents, Harry and Celia Doctor. They made this gift because they wanted to help future nurses fulfill their career goals through the School of Nursing, which was then only in its second decade. The Cassells had known students in the nursing program and were impressed by the student nurses’ caliber and commitment.
One high caliber nurse and UNCG graduate who has fully devoted herself to a career of medical service is Dr. Megan Conner ’05 BSN, ’09 MSN, ’15 PhD.
Dr. Conner came to the UNCG School of Nursing as an undergraduate because of the anesthesia program, and liked the program immediately.
“I was thrilled that at UNCG students have a voice,” she said. “Students have a voice and make a difference.”
When she finished her bachelor’s degree in 2005, Conner considered going somewhere else for her master’s degree, but she returned to UNCG because of the many positive experiences she had with the faculty.
Following her master’s degree, she worked as a nurse anesthetist for several years at Nash Health Care System, but realized that only with a PhD would she feel truly competitive in the world of nursing anesthesia. For a second time, Dr. Conner returned to UNCG for “the great student first environment.”
Dr. Conner’s time in the PhD program was one of change. When she faced her most challenging coursework, UNCG was to her “a place where critical thinking is contagious.” When she remembers doing the work to complete her final degree, she recalls the passion of her UNCG professors.
In 2015, Dr. Conner not only received her PhD, but her first article, “Self-efficacy, stress, and social support in Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists,” was published in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Journal.
She returned to UNCG once more: this time as a clinical assistant professor, teaching the doctoral nurse practice project course for the nurse anesthesia student cohort. She is now leading her students through the same challenges she herself experienced. When Dr. Conner was in school, her professors were her biggest role models; now, in her early years of teaching, she still turns to them for inspiration.
When she’s not teaching, Dr. Conner continues her anesthesia practice at hospitals through her business, Conner Anesthesia, PLLC. She has also continued her research, currently focused on the health of the anesthesia workforce in North Carolina.
It’s not easy to balance teaching, research, and practice, but Dr. Conner loves each part of her life.
“I love being a practicing anesthetist,” she said. “I also love that I can help students learn about quality improvement to effect change in hospitals. Even though I’m just one person, I can make a big difference.”
As the UNCG School of Nursing celebrates its 50th year, the Cassell/Saperstein Scholarship Fund continues to support students preparing themselves for their careers in nursing. Like Megan Conner, they have the opportunity to become high caliber and committed nurses and to continue UNCG’s legacy of excellence.
Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, Donor Relations
Endowments provide donors with opportunities to create living legacies and touch the lives of future generations.