New faculty expand strong credentials, caring attitude in GCU nursing program

October 16, 2015 / by / 0 Comment

By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau

Dr. Lisa Smith became a nurse for two reasons:

Dr. Lisa Smith

Dr. Lisa Smith

One,  Smith’s mother had three daughters and always wanted one to be a nurse because she herself had never achieved that. From the time Smith was 3, she told people she wanted to be a nurse, but for the longest time she didn’t know why.

“My mother had unfulfilled dreams, and I was her last hope,” said Smith, the baby of the family. “She started planting the seeds from the time I was young, and it stuck with me. I never wavered.”

Secondly, Smith’s father had serious heart problems while she was growing up, and when she was in high school, a cardiac-care nurse, who’d been told by Smith’s mother that her daughter was planning a nursing career, showed the teenager her father’s heart tests.

“I was hooked at that moment,” she said.

Smith pursued a bachelor’s in nursing from Salisbury University in Maryland and later went on to earn an MSN, with a specialization in health care education, from the University of Phoenix and a doctorate in nursing from Barry University in Miami. She has been a nurse, primarily at facilities in Florida and Arizona, for 30 years. She also is a certified nurse educator and has been teaching other nurses and nursing students since 1988.

Part of the beauty of a nursing degree is its versatility, said Smith, a new assistant dean in the Grand Canyon University College of Nursing and Health Care Professions (CONHCP). She is among nearly a dozen new faculty members recently added to the college’s expanding roster.

“What I love most about being in academia is being able to really influence nursing students in a positive way,” she said. “That first year can be such a deal-breaker for students. They find out if they’re going to like it or not, whether they’re cut out for this. I like to remind them of what’s most important about nursing, and that’s the caring of the person. There’s the science of nursing and the art of nursing. We do a fantastic job of teaching the science of nursing, but some have been less successful in teaching students how to care for patients.”

Smith likes to tell the story of a nurse who was caring for a patient who had a black book on his nightstand. The nurse assumed it was a Bible, but when she took the time to open it, she learned her patient was the author, “a real person with a real identity and a real history. As a nurse, you need to find one thing about each patient that you can connect with, something personal or something that’s in the news,” she said.  

Smith and her husband have visited Arizona over the years, and as she began to think about getting into teaching full-time, she narrowed her focus to GCU.

“I value the mission and doctrinal statements of this University, and just by going online I got a sense of the excitement here and how GCU cares for its students,” she said.

Rick Lloyd

Rick Lloyd

Another new face in the CONHCP belongs to assistant professor Rick Lloyd, who returned to school to obtain a nursing degree mid-career after his previous employer closed. Lloyd eventually got an master’s degree in nursing with an emphasis in family nurse practitioner from the University of Phoenix and became a preceptor for GCU nurse practitioner students. One of his goals was to become a GCU faculty member.

“I am so blessed and grateful for this opportunity,” Lloyd said. “The career change has been much more than I could have ever imagined. It was the best decision that I could have made and continues to be the best career for me.”

Lloyd is teaching Transition to Professional Nursing Practice: Complex Care Rotation, Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology for Primary Care and Advanced Practice Clinical Practicum.

Also joining the faculty this fall is assistant professor Roshan Meshkinnafas, who has a BSN from Emory University in Atlanta and an MSN with an emphasis in education from GCU. Meshkinnafas, who previously taught nursing at Gateway Community College, is a registered nurse at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. She teaches Introduction to Pharmacology, Nursing Practice: Theory, Nursing Practice: Clinical, Nursing Practice: Skills Lab and Nursing Practice: Simulation Lab.

Other new nursing faculty include: Desiree Creekmore, Tammy DrewettRobin Rogers, Lesley Ellison, Ruth Skinner, Debbie Green and Jessica Greer.

Contact Janie Magruder at (602) 639-8018 or [email protected]

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