Erin Lundeen never thought about nursing as a profession until she was a senior in college, preparing to graduate. “I went to Gannon University planning to go to optometry school and along the way I started thinking maybe that wasn’t the path for me,” says Erin, who is originally from Kane, Pennsylvania. She was so far along in her program, however, that she decided to graduate with her biology degree and start a Bachelor of Science Nursing program from scratch. A year and a half later in 2003, Erin graduated with a BSN from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania’s Innovative Nursing Program.
Medical ICU to start, then school nursing
Erin began her nursing career at Hamot Medical Center in Erie as a clinical nurse. After marrying and starting a family, she turned her attention to motherhood and decided that a slower pace would fit her life best. In 2006, she became a school nurse for the Kane Area School District.
“School nursing was much different than life in the ICU, where I was saving lives and working with critical patients every single day, but it worked well for my life and I embraced it,” she says. Along the way, she was encouraged to earn an MSN in order to maintain her school nurse license and she graduated from the Clarion and Edinboro University MSN Nurse Educator program in 2014.
A move to teaching full time
In May 2019, Erin learned about an open faculty position at St. Bonaventure University’s School of Health Professions, just across the Pennsylvania-New York border. She applied, interviewed and got excited—but wasn’t hired initially. “I was so very disappointed, as I was ready for a change,” she says. Two months later, however, St. Bonaventure called again. “After completing all of the scheduled interviews, they asked if I would be interested in coming to campus for a second interview. They offered me the position based on being a good fit for the team, and wanted to know if earning a doctorate was something I would be willing to do.”
In fact, Erin had been thinking about earning a doctorate since she interviewed for the position months earlier. “Another faculty member there had just graduated from American Sentinel,” says Erin. She did her own research into doctorate programs and decided the program fit her goals as well. Erin began her course work in July 2019.
Applied learning at its best
These days, Erin is navigating a brand-new job as a nursing lecturer in St. Bonaventure’s hybrid nursing program while moving through the DNP program. “I’m so glad to be getting my DNP while I build my confidence as an educator,” she says. “I’m excited to impact patients in a new and different way—by teaching other nurses who will go on to help patients.”
As a student and instructor at the same time, Erin is empathetic to nurses who are working toward a goal of furthering their education while also juggling life. “With COVID-19, life is chaotic for our students right now as we all figure this out,” she says. “What I tell nurses is that we will all get through this and we’re all in it together. Personally, everything I’ve done and my experiences as a nurse have prepared me for what I’m dealing with today. I’m excited that I’ve found my niche and that I can play an important role in educating tomorrow’s nurses. Our roles are valuable and I want to make sure all of my students know this.”
Inspired by Erin’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.