Throughout this academic year, we’ve been getting to know our faculty members better through the Friday Faculty Spotlight. Since the SUN-e publishes only on Wednesdays throughout the summer months, this week’s spotlight is our last until August. However, we’re finishing up the spring semester strong with Assistant Professor of Nursing Sharon Simon, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, CNE, who leads the family nurse practitioner program in the Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing.
In this Friday Faculty Spotlight Q&A, you’ll learn about Dr. Simon’s time in the military, her areas of research, her teaching philosophy, and what it was like to carry the Olympic torch! Enjoy getting to know her!
When did you join Shenandoah, and what appealed to you about the university?
2018 – the culture and collegiality of the faculty drew me to Shenandoah University.
What inspired you to become a Family Nurse Practitioner and then to become a nursing educator?
I was inspired to become a Family Nurse Practitioner by amazing nurse practitioners who modeled the provider role; I realized that I could impact families and communities in new and different ways for better health. I have known since I was in undergrad that I wanted to be an educator. I spent time in the Army and having a family and then had the chance to become an educator.
What are your areas of research?
It typically takes a decade or more to see research implemented into practice (academics or health care). As a Doctor of Nursing Practice, my focus is finding the research available regarding existing clinical, practice, or academic problems in order to implement best practice. My current interests are in NP Preceptor Training, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), Reduction in Health Disparities, and Nurturing Environment Pedagogy (using restorative justice principles).
You’re a military veteran. Which branch were you a part of, how long did you serve, and where, and how has your military service influenced you?
As a first-generation college student, I took advantage of the Army ROTC Scholarship program to go to college. I served for four years on active duty in the US Army Nurse Corps. My primary duty station was Fort Lewis, Washington. The Army gave me additional and unique leadership training and seeded the commitment to service into my DNA. [It also gave me my husband 🙂 since we met through ROTC training during college].
What sort of organizations are you involved with outside of the university? What makes these roles meaningful to you?
I serve as the president of the Northern Virginia Region of the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners. I love supporting my profession through continuing education, development of leaders, policy, and advocacy. I had the opportunity to testify regarding Nurse Practitioner Autonomous Practice during the Virginia Assembly this year. It was an amazing experience and an example to other NPs, the SU graduate nursing students, and my own kids. I love being active in community, faith, kids’ sports, and supporting small businesses.
You are a former U.S. Olympic torchbearer. When and where did you carry the torch, and how were you selected for the honor?
I had the absolute honor of being an Olympic Torch Bearer for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. I ran with the Torch in Tacoma, Washington in February 2002. The Olympic Sponsors determine how torchbearers are chosen. For the Salt Lake City Olympics, the sponsors asked for nominations of “People that Inspire” since the Olympic theme was “Light the Fire Within.” My mom wrote an essay about how I inspired her, and I was selected. Because the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, just five months prior, were very fresh on the minds of Americans, people came out in droves to watch the torch relay. High school bands played patriotic songs, viewers waved flags, and kids asked for autographs. Everyone just wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and to participate in something very positive. The torch is hanging on my wall at home and is a reminder of the resilience of Americans and commitment to excellence that all Olympians embody.
You were able to find clinical placements for FNP students during the height of the pandemic. How did you accomplish this?
Haha – perseverance, sleepless nights, creativity, networking, flexibility, a little luck, and mostly the sheer kindheartedness of providers. Relationships, Reputation, and Rigor go a long way when you are trying to find clinical placements in an already overworked and stressed health care system. Our faculty builds relationships with providers and the community. Shenandoah University and our graduate students have a great reputation based on past performance. Lastly, the rigor of the FNP program ensures that our students are well prepared for the clinical rotations. Ultimately, everyone involved stepped up.
What is your teaching philosophy, and how do you keep yourself and your students inspired?
Champion inclusive, holistic, student-centered, and active learning academic environments for optimal educational experiences for the next generation of Nurse Practitioners and health leaders. Inspiration for me comes from connecting to my purpose and pursuing excellence. I try to pass that philosophy on to my students so they too can be inspired. But ultimately, students who feel known and supported will find (or already have) inspiration.
What do you hope your students will take with them from their time working with you?
They are capable of more than they know, they will change the face of healthcare through one patient-provider partnership at a time, and mentorship doesn’t end with the semester or with graduation.
How do you spend your free time?
Friends, Faith, Fitness (OrangeTheory), and Fun (Reading, New foods, and Traveling).
What’s a little-known fact about you?
I was born in Hawaii.
If there’s a faculty member you feel the university community needs to get to know better, just fill out the Friday Faculty Spotlight submission form. Friday Faculty Spotlights begin appearing again in the SUN-e and on the university’s website in August 2022. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.