Dean's Message

Lorna Kendrick

Welcome from the Samuel Merritt University College of Nursing. We welcome you to consider becoming a part of our College of Nursing community either as a student, faculty, staff, donor, or community partner. My name is Lorna Kendrick, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC. I have been the dean of the College of Nursing since May 24, 2020. Yes, I began my tenure in the midst of the COVID pandemic. I am proud to say, it was an honor to join the SMU family. We are traveling into the future of nursing at light speed. We hope you join us, as we strive to improve the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve while transforming their healthcare experience.

Today we find ourselves at a crossroads. Any major crisis brings about a shift in the way we conduct our daily lives. Here at the College of Nursing, the COVID pandemic forced us to take a deep dive and discover what it really means to be open to change. We also had to individually begin to reflect, try to understand, and adjust to our own responses to unexpected necessary changes. Historically, nursing higher education has been comfortable in its stability. This stability was in part a consequence of rarely changing scientific laws. These scientific laws afforded nursing, as a science, to teach based on longstanding verifiable theories.

The profession of nursing could never have imagined a day would come when our students were unable to go to the hospital setting for their hands-on clinical application learning experiences. COVID pulled the rug out from under healthcare in terms of safety for patients, nurses, students, other members of the healthcare team, and families. For the first time in the history of our profession, nursing education was unable to simply reinvent the same historic practices. Instead, nurse educators were challenged to find alternative ways to facilitate student learning through clinical experiences other than inpatient bedside care. Those innovative thinkers realized many of our tried-and-true practices no longer worked to maintain a safe healthcare environment. We also realized, our students were missing out on many of the nuances of “nursing as an art” where compassion and caring were just as important as the science.

As leaders, we are taught, we are at our best when we are agile. Challenges associated with COVID helped foster new agility we never thought we would have to embrace in nursing higher education. During the early weeks of the pandemic, unlike many other schools of nursing, our students were able to continue their education. This was possible because our faculty worked diligently and for long hours to set in place a number of newly developed out-of-the-box classroom and clinical experiences. We remain hopeful the California Board of Registered Nursing will continue to support these newly designed experiences (e.g. telehealth, in-depth community care). These newly designed opportunities are actually better preparing our students for the future of nursing where patients spend fewer days in the hospital.

As we attempt to imagine the future of nursing, our profession is transforming itself from tradition to an evolving ideology steeped in changing healthcare trends. A few of those trends SMU College of Nursing is focused on include a) adding to and supporting a more diversified workforce with earned advanced degrees, b) enhanced nursing education focused on understanding and assimilation of information, c) facilitation of learning where students are transformed and prepared through digital literacy as healthcare leaders of the future, and d) graduates who actively engage in practices where the social determinants of health are used to foster individual and community well-being (e.g. health, mental health, social justice).

These are exciting and changing times. We welcome you to come, join us, and take that leap along with us as we travel this exciting journey towards a new future of nursing and healthcare. What an amazing profession. You will always have a vast array of opportunities when you choose nursing as a career.

With warm regards,

Dr. K