Saving lives and never settling for the status quo with new Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Kim Priode

Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Kim Priode realized her desire to become a nurse by accident.

While studying in the pre-med program at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Priode landed a summer job as a nurse assistant. Immediately thrown into the mix and observing RNs (registered nurses) go through their day, “I felt like I was more than up to the challenge,” she said.

Priode went on to transfer during her undergraduate education to Radford University, before earning her Master of Science in nursing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her doctorate in nursing from East Carolina University.

Now starting a new chapter in her over 30 years of nursing experience, Priode hopes to teach nursing students both the art of the craft and the beauty in life-saving science.

Get to know Priode more in our most recent faculty Q&A: (responses have been edited for clarity and brevity).

You were a nurse “on the floor” before you transitioned to teaching. What led you in that direction with your career?

When I was enrolled as a senior at Radford University, our final year was mainly critical care and emergency room clinicals and study. I was intrigued by the quick pace and adrenalin motivators in these areas and thought I would only practice in critical care or emergency. Everyone told me at the time that I would only stay in critical care for no longer than five years because of the high stress of the area. I ended up staying 20 years, and loved every minute of it. It was my passion. Fast paced and highly stressful, critical care provided the intellectual challenge I have found necessary when striving for excellence.

Why did you want to become the next Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences here at Lees-McRae? What drew you to pursue this opportunity?

Once I was made aware of the position for dean, I did some research and found the many wonderful things that Lees-McRae College could offer. For instance, having academic appointments at the University of the South Carolina, Appalachian State, and Caldwell Community College, I found that every student has different needs and requirements for study assistance. Lees-McRae College is in a unique position to offer non-traditional students more than just exams and assignments.

Many college age students today have non-traditional characteristics but are seen as traditional. For example, many have work, family, and life obligations besides their job of going to school. These life challenges pose concerns and issues around the ability to study and be successful. The exceptionally-valued professor to student ratio affords perhaps the most coveted opportunities for healthcare professions, by inspiring and assisting students to be professional leaders. This ratio grants healthcare professors the unique ability to foster interpersonal relationships with students that lead to levels of trust, promoting opportunities for both the student and teacher to glean valuable information from one another. This is often not the case when you have 200 students per class.

Nurses and other healthcare professionals who also teach often look upon students as they do their patients. They are one and the same, and patients and students are the reason we are here.

Now that you are here, do you have any plans of action for the May School and Nursing and Health Sciences? Are there any new initiatives or goals you’d like to bring to the college?

Here in the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences, we offer several inspiring programs for students interested in nursing, emergency services, health and promotion, and nutrition. We want to increase the total number of student seats granted by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Professional development is a must as nursing programs grow. Nursing faculty should stay current in practice and research as it pertains to new treatments and medications. Professional development is also important for all of our healthcare programs while growing enrollment. It is paramount in assisting our students in obtaining valuable jobs and careers in these fields.

It’s no secret that the field of nursing is tough, yet rewarding. As someone in the field for over 30 years, what is some advice you’d share with students currently pursuing a career in the exact field you’ve worked in for so long?

If I could speak to myself as an undergrad wanting to become a nurse, I would say stay diligent and keep a sound GPA in the math and sciences. Nursing is an amalgam of several disciplines such as biology, math, chemistry, psychology, sociology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as microbiology. Practicing nurses use many concepts from these disciplines all the time. The best, prudent nurse is the one who teaches, informs, cares, and prevents further harm for their patients. No one wants to settle for being a mediocre nurse, especially not when you are in a job of saving lives. 

Is there anything you’d like to say to all students at Lees-McRae?

I think it is important for college students today to not settle for the status quo. If there are delays, such as not passing a course or having to redo assignments and skills, just keep moving forward. Look upon these things not as final defeats but as delays. Persevere to stay the course and achieve what you want to do—don’t settle.

What is a fun fact about yourself or something we may not otherwise know about you?

Someday I’d like to write children’s books. It sounds crazy because my writing is very technical with an emphasis on research. I am also a basket weaver! I learned to do this as I worked the night shift for many years—staying up until noon for weaving class after having worked all night. But, I found this activity to be very stress reducing and I’m able to actually create something!

Kim Priode Q&A
By Nina MastandreaSeptember 20, 2019