During my 47-year nursing career I have had many varied opportunities. After six years of working as a staff nurse in various Chicago-area hospitals, I completed an adult nurse practitioner certificate program in 1976 followed immediately by a 6-month, fulltime fellowship in rheumatology. After working for two years in Northwestern University’s rheumatology faculty group practice, I headed to Arizona where I spent the next nine years working on the Gila River Indian Reservation as part of the Chronic Illness Project on a grant from the NIH to provide needed services in diabetes and rheumatology to tribal members. It was during that amazing experience that I completed a BSN at Arizona State University and began working toward a MS in Nursing that included expanding my scope of practice by enrolling in the family NP program. Upon leaving the Gila River, I worked in family practice for five years then joined an internal medicine practice. 

By the mid-90’s I could no longer do one thing at a time, it seemed. While continuing in clinical practice, I began teaching part time in the new women’s healthcare NP program at the University of Phoenix. That led to teaching in their FNP program and eventually becoming the director of that program. Along the way I realized how fascinated I was with teaching methods and subsequently completed the problem-based learning tutor program at Southern Illinois University’s medical school and a PhD in education with a specialization in online instructional design from Capella University. These two eye-opening educational experiences combined solidified my belief that using cases in the classroom was by far more engaging for students and promoted clinical reasoning better than the traditional lecture. I was also able to visualize how PBL could be taught online without losing its value of not only teaching content, but also clinical reasoning. Since most NP programs were moving online, I was now in a position to guide faculty on how to teach online using engaging methods.

After leaving the University of Phoenix, I taught for two years at Arizona State University before accepting a position in the College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina as the Director of Online Education. This was my first opportunity to function in the role of instructional designer and I was thrilled! What I learned over the next six years while transitioning a classroom-based, problem-based learning NP curriculum to the online format and working with faculty to teach and support them in teaching online became the basis for my book published in June 2017 by Springer, Designing and Teaching Online Courses in Nursing. I have now retired from teaching and clinical practice, devoting my time to consulting with colleges of nursing to create, revise, and evaluate engaging online programs to promote the needed radical change in nursing education for the 21st Century.

My husband and I split our time between Arizona and Colorado where we enjoy walking, hiking, and travelling around our amazing country when we’re not hunkered down with a good book in front of the fire.

© Sally Kennedy 2018