Nancy James: How Sierra College’s Dean of Nursing Connects Passion with Profession

July 1, 2016
Nancy Schwab

Nursing changes lives of the patients, their families and the nurses. No one knows that more than Nancy James, the Dean of Nursing at Sierra College.

Nancy’s life changing moment in nursing was her first Christmas working in a hospital. She wanted to be with her family instead of working the holiday.  She had a heart to heart moment after one of her dying patients thanked her for spending Christmas day with him and his family. It pushed her to work holidays for the next six years taking care of patients who could not spend time with their families.

I’ve gotten way more than I’ve ever given. But you have to know this is your calling. Our nursing students at Sierra College know this. To see them get moved like that is an amazing experience.

Nancy James
Associate Dean, Allied Health

Nancy recalls how a calling kicked in for a specific student. By the fourth semester expectations go up exponentially in which students are expected to function independently and be able to delegate tasks to other healthcare members. Nancy asked a student why a patient was on a specific medication. When the student answered generically, Nancy challenged her. She ran down the hall after Nancy and explained exactly why her patient would benefit from this specific medicine. “I looked at her and said ‘That is exactly why. I think you’re ready now to manage your team.” Three years later Nancy ran into the student at Kaiser where she has a successful nursing career.

This combination of personal and professional experience was the driving force behind building the curriculum for Sierra College’s BSN program. Nancy assisted in establishing clinical training at one of the local hospitals within the first semester. This vision provides students with opportunities to connect their passion and profession in a live setting.