Alumna Driven by Passion for Patients

Theresa Maxwell to receive the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Achievement Award

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Theresa Maxwell (M.S.N. ’01) with the School of Nursing and Health Studies Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award.

portrait of Theresa Maxwell

Theresa Maxwell (M.S.N. '01)

Maxwell’s 30 years in nursing has been driven by her expertise in gastroenterology — disorders of the stomach and intestines — and her passion for its patients. As an ostomy specialist and nurse practitioner at Digestive Health Specialists in St. Joseph, Missouri, Maxwell works closely with physicians to provide the best specialty care in the region. She even started her own business, Image Specialties, when she felt that companies were substituting items where they shouldn’t, overbilling and subscribing to generally unscrupulous practices. Additionally, Maxwell contracted with nursing homes, home health agencies and hospitals to provide pre-operative teaching, in-services and educational programs. We spoke with her recently about her path in nursing.

How did you choose your specialty of gastroenterology?

I liked surgical nursing and any procedures that I could do. I identified a need for an ostomy and wound-specialized nurse and became one. The ostomy specialty was by far the most rewarding nursing that I had ever done, much to my surprise. Most of my patients, especially the ones who are ostimates, appreciate me. Nursing is frequently an underappreciated profession and I like being where I feel needed and appreciated.

You’ve worked in a variety of settings, including a hospital, surgeon’s office and as a home health clinician. Did you enjoy one workplace more than the others?

I really enjoyed having my own practice, except I was the worst boss that I have ever worked for! I believe each job that I’ve held had its role in making me more well-rounded and independent.

Theresa Maxwell early in her nursing career.

Tell us about your role at Digestive Health Specialists. What is a typical day like for you?

I have clinic every morning which includes seeing patients for a variety of issues including office procedures. Most mornings, I am the only provider in the office, so I will usually triage any calls or walk-ins that occur as well. I do another clinic in the afternoon, then I go to the hospital for rounds or work in my office charting and doing administrative duties.

About the Alumni Awards

Join us in honoring Maxwell and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.

Learn more about School of Nursing and Health Studies

Published: Mar 6, 2020

Top Stories