Nancy Cole earned her undergraduate degree in nursing from Boston College and her master’s degree from Adelphi University. She began her professional career as a staff nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at New York Cornell and as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in cardiovascular disease at St Francis Hospital. Ms. Cole later served as an adjunct professor at Adelphi from 1977 until 1988. In 1988, her career changed direction as she joined the ranks of hospital administrators at the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens. At CMC, she held the positions of Director of Nursing Education and Associate Executive Director in charge of day to day operations. She returned to academia in 1997 to the College of New Rochelle, first as an Assistant Professor and then as the Director of Academic Programs.
In 2006, she was recruited back to Adelphi by Dean Coonan to become the Assistant Dean of the School of Nursing. In addition to her role at Adelphi, Ms. Cole serves as the Director of Nursing of Gift of Life International, a philanthropic organization dedicated to providing cardiac surgery for children from underdeveloped countries around the globe. Presently, she is working in the Dominican Republic. She has developed and is implementing a nursing education program at two hospitals in that country. At this time, 30 nurses have completed Phase I of the program. Phase II is presently being developed and will be implemented in 2009. This project will serve as a template to raise the level of nursing care to children in underdeveloped countries.
When and why did you first want to become a nurse?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a nurse. I am very lucky to have a career that I enjoy; one that allows me to meet people from various backgrounds and to frequently make a difference in their lives.
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
I have enjoyed all of my time at Adelphi because of the wonderful relationships that were formed and made tremendous impacts on my personal and professional life.
When I was a student, the faculty members were excellent and prepared me well to advance to the next level of my career.
My time as an adjunct faculty was one of significant growth, particularly due to the support of Dr. Justina Eisenhauser and Dr. Elaine Wittmann who mentored me as a novice faculty member.
Currently, it is very rewarding to be back at Adelphi and to bring this relationship full circle by working with faculty and students again in a new role. The School of Nursing is a very exciting place. The students are bright, eager and want to learn. It is very satisfying to see then grow and develop professionally.
What are some of the changes you have seen in nursing through the years?
Today’s health care environment is much more complex than when I first started as a nurse. Technology, managed care, patient safety issues and the nursing shortage have made a significant impact upon nursing and health care.
Nursing students have also changed. The student body at all nursing programs are very diverse. Some students are right out of high school, some are beginning second careers, some have family and full time work responsibilities. Many of our students have so many other demanding responsibilities. It is a credit to them that they can manage both aspects of their lives, but, most do and very successfully.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Be involved in your profession. Make a difference.
For graduating students: Nursing involves life long learning. Continue your education. Become an expert in your field. Be open to new opportunities – there are so many exciting experiences in nursing.
For current students: Get to know your faculty. Find a mentor and develop relationships. Do not be in a rush. Nursing is a very difficult, intense curriculum and learning is a process.