A Labor of Love

Nursing Alumna Autumn Fuselier stands for a photo following commencement

When Autumn Fuselier became a mother at the young age of 15, she knew she needed to find a career that would help provide a stable home for her son.

“I was a teen mom and needed a reliable and respected profession that I could count on to provide a stable home for him,” said Fuselier. “However, that drive became much bigger over the course of my career.”

Fuselier took a leap in 2011 after being accepted to the University of Tennessee, College of Nursing’s BSN program.

“Thankfully I was not alone in raising my son during this time,” said Fuselier. “I have amazing parents that helped me while I was completing my degree.”

The BSN program provided her with a strong foundation and a comprehensive understanding of various specialties. She found the experience challenging yet rewarding, preparing her for the dynamic nature of the nursing profession.

“I learned many clinical skills, but I also felt challenged and grew so much in knowledge of all the specialties,” said Fuselier. “It was such a well-rounded program and truly set the foundation for my future as an advanced practice nurse.”

Her time at UT did not come without challenges though. She raised her son on her own until her now husband moved to Knoxville during her junior year. She had to learn how to be her own person and care for a young child all while attending nursing school.

“Knoxville is where I really grew up,” said Fuselier.

After graduating in 2015, Fuselier started working in the intensive care unit. However, she soon discovered her passion for maternal healthcare.

“I fell in love with maternal health care and became passionate about improving maternal and neonatal health care outcomes,” Fuselier said. “I eventually transitioned to Labor and Delivery and never looked back.”

Fuselier obtained a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialty in Certified Nurse-Midwifery and later a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP).

Fuselier’s most cherished moments in her career are not defined by singular events but by the collective experiences gained through daily clinical practice. These experiences have been the cornerstone of her professional growth and success.

“One of my greatest career accomplishments was earning the Kitty Ernst Nurse-Midwifery Award upon graduating with my MSN,” said Fuselier. “Back then I didn’t see my potential to be a true leader and educator in the field. The reason this means so much to me is that faculty saw in me back then when I couldn’t have yet seen in myself. I aspire every day to have the passion, dedication, intelligence, and wisdom to earn this award every day of my career in both clinical practice, advocacy, and education.”

Reflecting on her journey, Fuselier advises current students to embrace the challenges and opportunities presented to them.

“Understand that nothing worth having comes easy,” said Fuselier. “You will need to put your head down and do the work. Also understand that nursing and especially advanced practice comes from not just book knowledge, but soaking in all these experiences and friendships and allowing all of this to shape who you are as a practitioner.”

Today, Fuselier serves as the co-owner and Chief Midwifery Director at The Starting Place Birth and Wellness. Additionally, she serves as clinical faculty for Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) and Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) students. Her commitment to advocacy is reflected in her efforts to expand full practice authority for Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) and her work in legislative advocacy aimed at improving maternal health outcomes.

She is a wife and mom of four, two of which are determined to join the Volunteer family.

“I am proud of many things, but mostly I am so proud to be a Vol Nurse,” said Fuselier. “UT gave me my start in more ways than one and I will always hold UT Nursing and what it gave me near and dear.”


Kara Clark (865-974-9498, kmclark2@utk.edu)