Humans at Sam: Dr. E’Loria Simon-Campbell

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The vast majority of people have a love-hate relationship with hospitals: it’s the last place someone wants to be until it’s actually necessary. And even then, it’s debatable. The trauma, the needles, the uncertainty and the dreaded bills following the visit, aren’t exactly anyone’s idea of a pleasant day. Even so, the medical staff is there to make their reluctant visitors as comfortable as possible.

Nurses have a gift. Not only do they have the scientific know-how, but the best of them have warm hearts, thick skins and a tireless determination to provide both physical and emotional support. One woman encountered this type of nurse when she underwent treatment for a non-cancerous tumor in her left ear at just five years old.

“I spent my Kindergarten year at M.D. Anderson, but even though I was in the hospital, it was like I wasn’t even sick because the nurses were so nice, and I wanted to do that,” Dr. E’Loria Simon-Campbell, a registered nurse and tenure-track assistant professor here at SHSU, said.

This up-close-and-personal experience is what inspired Dr. Simon-Campbell to pursue a career as a nurse herself. Originally from Crockett, Texas, she entered SHSU’s pre-nursing program and earned her bachelor’s degree at Prairie View before obtaining her license in 1995. She later found a job at East Texas Medical Center in Crockett, where her assignments frequently involved training the new nurses in the unit. It wasn’t until friends and coworkers praised her work that she ever considered becoming an educator.

“Angelina College made an agreement with East Texas Medical Center, and they started a nursing school there, so I began working as a clinical instructor and eventually became director of the program,“ Simon-Campbell said.

After five years at Angelina and 10 years at Prairie View, Dr. Simon-Campbell came full circle. This is her third year teaching at SHSU, and the experience has proven itself strange but rewarding. Switching from a student to a faculty role – and in a school that has expanded exponentially in recent years – was quite the shock.

“There are a lot of opportunities for faculty, like, [when I came in], I didn’t think I would get to do a lot of the things I’ve done…but people have been so helpful,” Dr. Simon-Campbell said. “SHSU is very supportive of its faculty as far as their careers, their goals, and [encouraging students’] goals.”

One such opportunity included attending the Nursing Science 2017 International Conference in Dallas, hosted by the United Scientific Group in June. The group and their conferences offer health care professionals and educators a forum to present their research and collaborate ideas for better health environments. Dr. Simon-Campbell heard of the conference through a colleague, a Registered Nurse and SHSU Associate Professor, Dr. Lilibeth Al-Kofney, and prompted her to submit an abstract that was later accepted by the organization.

“[My topic] was The Effectiveness of an Adaptive Quizzing System to Improve Student Learning, which is just a software program that helps students learn how to take the licensing exam they’ll have to take after graduation to get their [registered nursing] license,” Dr. Simon-Campbell said.

The conference covered a variety of topics ranging from nursing education to nursing practice to biology, and its attendees gathered from across the globe to share an expansive take on each field of study.

Yet, surprisingly, it was not one of these presentations that captured the professor’s attention. Rather, one guest spoke about life balance – that even when one is in pursuit of academic and career goals, it is best to remember how to relax and not overthink on situations at hand.

“Now that I’m getting older, I’m no longer working in the hospital as much, so by being an educator, it gives me the opportunity to mold the next generation of nurses,” Dr. Simon-Campbell said. “Even when I’m not there to teach a class of 50 or 80 people, [it’s a joy] knowing that the world has a little more meaning to each person.”

But the gratification she receives from her work does not stop there.

“Just like I’m a first generation [nurse and educator], many of our students are first generation, and this gives me the opportunity to see them make a difference in their families, to get to see them cross the stage, to see moms come see them graduate, and to see how they transformed. I had a piece of that,“ Dr. Simon-Campbell said.

The road to becoming a nurse is not easy, especially when students become frustrated and discouraged at not performing as well as they had in the past, but Dr. Simon-Campbell took it upon herself to meet students where they were, identify and fortify their weaknesses, and build upon their strengths.

Dr. Simon-Campbell does not intend to return to the Nursing Science conference next year, but another conference set for November in Miami, recently accepted her abstract. Again she will present her study on The Effectiveness of an Adaptive Quizzing System to Improve Student Learning, and she encourages professors on a tenure track, or those looking for exposure through scholarly activities, to participate.