November 15, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Kaboni Whitney Gondwe


Hometown: Malawi

Degrees: PhD in Nursing (2018), Doctoral Certificate in Global Health (2018), Master of Science in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration (2012), Certificate in Midwifery (2009), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (2007), Certificate in Global Health Nursing (2006)

Department: Child, Family, and Population Health Nursing

Research/Areas of Interest: Health equity, health disparities in maternal and infant outcomes, parent-child relationship, stress and perinatal inflammation, global health




Why did you choose nursing?

I wanted to be a nurse since I was young. I wrote an essay of wanting to be a nurse in 5th grade and in that essay I mentioned how I admired my aunt who was a nurse and nurses who took care of me when I had malaria while young. The white uniforms and nurses cap and their encouraging words and smiles made my younger self think nurses were angels who make you feel better. I would later lose my mother at 12 and this made want to save lives so other people get to spend more time with their loved ones. I later decided to pursue midwifery because I love working with babies and being in a space where I helped people with their reproductive goals and childbirth safely gives me joy.

What drew you to global health?

I am originally from Malawi, where health inequities and disparities exist especially in low-income settings. In the US, I also noted that social determinants of health continue to drive racial disparities in maternal and infant outcomes. My work seeks to improve the outcomes on vulnerable populations through interventions that are tailored for minority populations and address the barriers to accessing quality care and health promotion.

What is one unforgettable experience you have had that impacted your career trajectory (nursing or otherwise)?

One unforgettable experience in my life was when I was a nursing student. I was in a medical surgical unit where there was a patient who was critically ill and people were uncertain if they would survive. Resources were limited, the patient also had lost hope that they would survive, and they were alone because this was a referral facility far from their home. I thought to myself, even if they won’t survive at least, they should know people cared.  I discussed with my clinical instructor I requested that I be assigned that patient. The patient was poor and had no food and couldn’t get food for themselves. Food was not delivered at the bedside due to limited staffing, as such caregivers in Malawi assist with this or bring food from home. The Patient had no caregivers present. We worked tirelessly for 6 weeks, making sure the patient was eating and receiving quality care including emotional support. The patient greatly improved and regained their will to live. I still remember the smile on their face when they said to me “Thank you for not giving up on me, if it wasn’t for you, I would have died”. Their family members had finally found money for transportation to come and help and we all almost cried as they thanked me for just being there just to talk to the patient sometimes. The patient recovered and was eventually discharged. It is these experiences that drive my passion to be a nurse and later a midwife. This is why I value health as a whole (physical, mental, social, spiritual, and more) and the importance of being truly present for people who need us.

What projects are you working on right now?

Currently I am working on a study examining the relationship between social determinants of health and prenatal inflammation in Black women and exploring barriers and facilitators to access for perinatal services among Black women in the US.

What excites you about being part of the faculty at the School of Nursing?  

I am excited to be part of a team that strives to promote health equity and being among people who are passionate about making a difference locally and globally.

If you could be anything else (besides faculty at the SON of course), what would it be?

I would probably be a missionary nurse-midwife volunteering around the world or babysitting.