Nurse Educator Profile – Laurie Nagelsmith, Ph.D., RN, CNE
Registered nurse diploma from Albany Medical Center School of Nursing, 1987
Bachelor’s in nursing from SUNY College of Technology, 1989
Master’s in nursing from The Sage Colleges, 1995
Ph.D. in educational psychology from University at Albany, State University of New York, 2010
Certified Nurse Educator certification from the National League for Nursing, 2012
Since earning a diploma in nursing more than 25 years ago, Laurie Nagelsmith has worked as a staff nurse at a community hospital, clinical instructor for a licensed practical nursing program, director of a community health improvement program, consultant for a home care agency, and director of health services at a small liberal arts college, all throughout continuing her education all the way up to the doctoral level. Today, she is a nurse educator at Excelsior College in New York, where she has also worn a lot of different hats but currently teaches, creates curriculum and courses, and conducts research on issues related to governmental and regulatory issues around nursing education and RN licensure.
Question: What drew you to nursing, as well as education?
Nagelsmith: "My mother is a nurse. When I was young, I always responded with a resounding ‘no’ when asked if I was going to be a nurse like my mother. But, at some point during my early 20s, I realized I really liked all the sciences, I loved caring for people, and I liked all the potential possibilities that a career in nursing offered. I certainly was right about that! I have crafted an unbelievably stimulating career out of my education. I still see multiple opportunities for professional growth.
"I was drawn to education because I love to learn, am very goal oriented, and have a lot of energy. I’ve always been a very curious person and I put a high value on constant learning and personal and professional growth. I think these characteristics sometimes (I hope more often than not) make me a role model for students."
Question: Why did you continue to pursue advanced degrees in the field? How has that benefited you in your career?
Nagelsmith: "Striving for more knowledge is like breathing for me. I’ve managed to find cost-effective ways to avail myself to high-quality educational programs and opportunities. One of the accomplishments I am very proud of is that I attained all my degrees and certifications without incurring any educational debt! I am proof that it can be done as you are not in a hurry and make good decisions.
"Each course of study that I’ve completed was directly related to the work I was currently engaged in. So, I could immediately see the relevance and applicability of what I was learning, which is extremely motivating. As an adult learner, this was extremely important to me and only fueled my thirst for more learning.
"My masters in nursing and Ph.D. in educational psychology and methodology have benefited me by making me eligible for opportunities that I would not have without the credentials. Once I got my foot in the door, many other factors came into play to make me a good fit for the organizations I have worked for. Truly though, it is hard to define the totality of how higher education has benefited me because it is part of who I am and impacts, in so many ways, how I experience the world and envision possibilities."
Question: What education, credentials, and experience did you need that helped you enter the field? And what types of continuing education do you do to maintain your skills and professionalism?
Nagelsmith: "I began my education and career at Albany Medical Center School of Nursing’s diploma program in 1984 — the same program my mother graduated from about 25 years before! At that time, I had no prior healthcare experience so the type of program I chose was a good fit for me. I lived, worked, and studied at the hospital for three years. After that, I became licensed as an RN and went directly into fulltime study in a BS in nursing program. Shortly thereafter, I began part-time study in an MS in nursing program.
"It took me almost 10 years to complete my Ph.D. while working full-time, caring for my family, and studying part-time. During that entire time, I was doing research projects and working with seasoned faculty to design and conduct educational research. Again, all this was directly related to the work I was engaged in, so I was very productive professionally.
"Other examples of continuing education include:
- Attended American Academy of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Leadership for Academic Nursing Program 2006-2007. Focuses on preparing the next generation of academic nursing leaders for schools of nursing.
- Nursing Organizations Alliance: Nurse (NOA) in Washington Internship Program, March 2010. Focusing on the public policy process and the advancement of the interests of nursing education and the profession of nursing. Selected from a competitive pool of applicants as the only recipient of the NOA full scholarship in 2010.
- Received certification as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) through the National League for Nursing. Certification granted 2012 through 2017."
Question: What do you enjoy about your work? What challenges, developments or successes keep it exciting to you?
Nagelsmith: "I enjoy the constant learning and honing different aspects of my talents and abilities. Most recently, I’ve been learning about politics, policy, and the art of compromise and how all these come together in the nursing education arena."
Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career who are considering going into nursing and want to advance?
Nagelsmith: "The best advice I can think of is to set goals that you are passionate about and stay focused. Think about what you want, what you are doing, and how is it helping you get to your goals. Also, I think doing some work in clinical healthcare settings is important before committing to a program of study. To be successful in nursing, you need to begin with solid clinical knowledge and skills and you need to be comfortable being in very intimate relationships with people in very difficult times."