With tape to mark their desks and plenty of space between them, masked-up students returned to face-to-face classes at Spalding University on Monday and Tuesday for the first time since March.

Students said it was great to see their friends’ faces again – even if it was only the top half of those faces – and resume the in-person courses that they’d missed.

“I love being in in-person classes,” sophomore nursing student Samantha Roberson said. “I hope it continues, and I think it will continue if people keep wearing their masks like they should be and have been.”

When Roberson and fellow nursing students Erica McMann and Claire Houck arrived at their anatomy and physiology lecture class at the Egan Leadership Center’s Troutman Lectorium on Monday, at least every other chair was removed from the rows of long tables, with tape marking the spaces where they could sit.

“It was a little bit weird to get used to it at first,” Houck said, “but we’re supposed to be in class, not gathered and talking anyway, so it was nice.”

Fully in-person classes make up about 20 percent of the course sections at Spalding this session. The University is providing both in-person options and an array of fully or partially remote classes. The result is to accommodate students who want or need a traditional on-campus learning experience – especially in lab and hands-on courses – while keeping the overall density of people on campus low during the pandemic. Spalding has also expanded and enhanced its remote learning programs and technology in recent months and years.

The three nursing students said some of their classmates joined the class home, watching on an web stream that is available for every in-person course at Spalding this session.

“I thought that was cool,” Houck said.


Houck, McCann and Roberson said the lab portion of their anatomy and physiology course has been divided into two groups. Half of the students meet in person one day,  while the other half meets online. The next day, the groups swap.

Houck, McMann and Roberson all also live in the Spalding Suites. They said they preferred the expanded move-in period from last weekend. Returning students moved into the Suites by appointment over two days instead of one day in years past.

MOVE-IN 2020 | Residential students bring ‘renewed energy’ to campus

They said they had not encountered anyone on campus who was not wearing a mask or keeping a safe six-foot distance from other people.

“If everyone continues to do what they need to do to keep themselves and their community safe and healthy, we’ll all be just fine,” Houck said.

Another group of nursing students – those in Spalding’s accelerated BSN (second degree) program – had their first-ever day of on-campus classes on Monday at the Republic Bank Academic Center.

“I do feel safe, and I love the fact that Spalding (has) the flexibility but also the standards that they are enforcing like this is a real thing,” student Melissa Davis said. “‘Everybody follow the precautions. Everybody does their own part.’ And then I also feel like I won’t be penalized if I get sick.”

“It’s chilled out having your own table in a big space. Anxiety is definitely down.”

All the students interviewed on Monday said they had completed the #CampusClear health assessment before arriving on campus. That, along with wearing masks and staying socially distant and agreeing to the Spalding Promise pledge, is a key tenet of Spalding’s Return to Campus plan.

The app “is really easy to navigate,” second-degree BSN student Brittanie Glasser said.

Second-degree BSN student Craig Blasi, who previously attended a large public university, said he is already enjoying the small class sizes at Spalding.

“It’s a good family atmosphere,” he said. “I just met all my classmates today, and we’re all really close already. (At the larger university), it wasn’t bad; it was just big. I didn’t feel as included as I do here.”

In our woundedness, we can become a source of life for others, (Nouwen, 1972 i)

We are wounded healers:  we enter into the lives of our patients often, alone with them, as they die from the coronavirus;

We are wounded healers: we accompany our colleagues in their care of the dying as well as their own deaths;

We are wounded healers: we bear the stigma of immeasurable pain of human suffering and dying as we stand before our patients, their families and our colleagues, filled with compassion, weeping, but with hands empty;

We are wounded healers: we experience a deep sense of abandonment, loneliness and failure because we are unable to rescue our patients and our colleagues from a disease not of their own making;

We are wounded healers: we find ourselves morally wounded because we are unable to stop the terrible decisions that must be made for patient care in the midst of this terrible disease;

We are wounded healers: each day we say good bye to our patients and colleagues, terrified to return home to our families knowing that we may carry illness and death to them –  fearful about returning to our centers of care – guilt of abandoning the sick when caring moments are desperately needed;

We are wounded healers with hope. We are calling for urgent help to be relieved of these terrible burdens so that our ineradicable covenant to care for the sick and one another with compassion, the very soul of our call to be healers, will be re-affirmed and reclaim human dignity and bring peace, healing, and hope to one another and to our world, especially the abandoned, unloved and the unwanted in our midst.

  • In the midst of these convulsive experiences and in solidarity with one another and our colleagues, we call on schools of the health professions, organizations, associations and Church groups to collaborate to:
  • Form listening sessions in order to share the wounds, the pain, multiples losses and anger we are experiencing and to reaffirm and implement the power of the trilogy of health care (human dignity, freedom and flourishing) among individuals and communities;
  • Provide comprehensive professional resources (psychological, emotional, physical, pastoral, ethical, social work) for our colleagues to help them journey through their experiences of grieving, anxiety, depression, those who have lost hope and self-confidence, death and reclaim confidence as instruments of healing and hope;
  • Implement strategies that will reach out especially to those have become isolated, withdrawn, feel abandoned, and have little reason to hope;
  • Establish local and regional interdisciplinary networks that provide long-term counseling, other services, and resources as we reclaim human dignity, freedom and promote human flourishing among all persons;
  • Collaborate with local and regional health care systems, our colleagues in the health professions, and civic leaders to construct a long term plan for continuing care and rehabilitation;

As wounded healers with hope, we bring to our world an elaborate and exhaustive array of experiences, competencies, and a legion of unparalleled experiences and expertise in education, administration, research across all domains of service to humanity. The profound virtuous act of the nurse as healer, the act that unites each of us as Fellows is embedded in the “promise of nursing,” the proclamation we all voiced when we dared to enter the world of nursing. This promise says:

Regardless of who you are, your gender, race, ethnicity, or religious persuasion, regardless of your illness or your life experiences; I am promising you my commitment that I will care with you; I will try to heal your pain, to ameliorate your suffering, to help you accept the limitations posed by the ravages of your illness.  I promise that I will accept your invitation to be with you when you are afraid, alone or dying; and to never abandon you along this journey. 

As wounded healers with hope, the largest segment of our nation’s health care workforce, amid the threats of the coronavirus, we must never allow our promise be compromised.  This is our vowed commitment to one another, to our colleagues, to the sick entrusted to our care, and to our nation and beyond.  Let us reclaim the power of the promise of nursing; let us help one another to be healed of this terrible threat to human dignity, freedom and human flourishing. In this journey together we will be freed to bring the promise of nursing to each other and to every person entrusted to our care.

Finally, we ask our Creator to protect us in our journey of healing and hope:

To bring strength, confidence and an enduring hope to each of us and to our colleagues;

  • To take time to care for ourselves and to listen to the voices in our own hearts;
  • To endow us with courage to remain faithful to the promise of nursing;
  • To care for our patients, their families, and our colleagues with compassion;
  • To bring healing to the sick, peace and comfort to the dying and their families;
  • To bring wisdom, compassion and confidence to our leaders;
  • To grant eternal rest to the dead; and
  • To comfort the mourners. Amen.

As ambassadors of hope, how successful we are in bringing healing to each of us as wounded healers, will determine how successful we are in living the promise of nursing in bringing healing and hope to all persons entrusted to our care, and to a suffering nation.

– (Nouwen, H.J.M. (1972).  The Wounded Healer.  New York: Image Books, Doubleday.)
– Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

Spalding University is pleased to announce the return of Brother Ignatius Perkins, OP, PhD, RN, an experienced nursing and health care leader and a scholar on bioethics, as the Chair of Spalding’s School of Nursing – a position he also held from 2003-05.

Bro. Perkins, who currently serves as Director of Provincial Administration for the Dominican Friars-Province of St. Joseph in New York, is a Spalding alumnus and former faculty member. During Perkins’ previous stint as Spalding’s School of Nursing Chair, he dually served as Dean of the university’s College of Health and Natural Sciences.

From 2010-15, he was the Dean of the School of Nursing at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, and his career of more than four decades includes numerous other administrative, teaching and research positions in health care and nonprofit settings. He has presented and been published dozens of times, often on issues related to bioethics and medical ethics, and he has served on countless boards and committees.

Perkins holds two degrees from Spalding – a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (1972) and a Master of Arts in Education (1981) – and is a past recipient of the university’s Caritas Medal, the highest award that a Spalding graduate can receive. He also earned a master’s degree in nursing and a doctorate from the Catholic University of America in Washington. Perkins also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in primary care and clinical bioethics at Georgetown University in Washington, and he earned the National Catholic Certification in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

“Brother Perkins is truly a rare find—he blends both an impressive background as a nursing leader, educator and bioethics scholar with a deep and intrinsic understanding of Spalding’s unique identity as a place where students come to learn to make a difference in their world,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “We are incredibly fortunate to have him and are thrilled to welcome him back to our campus.”

Learn more | Spalding’s School of Nursing programs

Throughout a venerable career, Perkins has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Pillar Award at the Religious Brothers Conference in 2019, Faculty of the Year Award at Aquinas College in Nashville in 2015, and Lifetime Achievement in Nursing Leadership Award from College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. He is a Fellow with the NLN Academy of Nursing Education, the American Academy of Nursing, the New York Academy of Medicine, the Royal Society of Medicine and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and he is an active member of multiple professional organizations, including the National Association of Catholic Nurses, the International Association of Catholic Bioethicists and the Catholic Medical Association. Perkins was also recently appointed as an Affiliated Scholar in the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University in Washington.

As Chair of the School of Nursing, Perkins will oversee all of Spalding’s undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. He will begin work this month.

“It is a genuine privilege for me to once again to serve the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the School of Nursing at Spalding University,” Perkins said. “The School of Nursing has an enduring history; its prophetic role in reshaping our world by promoting human dignity, freedom and human flourishing though caring and compassion is the seminal gift the graduates of the School bring to a world in need of healing and hope.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Nancy Kern, a longtime Spalding faculty member who currently serves as the Interim Chair of the School of Nursing, has been named Spalding’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Director.

Kern, who holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Spalding, has been a member of the university’s faculty for nearly 11 years. In recent years, during the state’s hepatitis A outbreak, Kern was a leader in volunteer efforts to provide vaccines to homeless citizens of Louisville. She has been an American Red Cross volunteer for nearly five decades.

“We are excited that Nancy Kern will become the director of our BSN program,” McClure said. “During her time at Spalding, Dr. Kern has helped train countless students to become compassionate nursing professionals.  We thank her for the months she served as Interim Chair and look forward to the great work she’ll do in the future at Spalding.”

It’s Commencement weekend at Spalding University! Festivities kicked off Friday with the Baccalaureate service and individual college, school and program award ceremonies. There are tons of pictures from the day on Spalding’s Facebook page within the “Commencement Activities 2019” album. Please like, share and tag yourself or others in the pictures, and do the same after the university Commencement service (10 a.m. Saturday at Canaan Christian Church). Here’s a look at some of Spalding’s new grads who participated in Friday’s events.

Haitian earthquake victim now a Spalding nursing grad
Nine years ago, Witchina Liberal’s home in Haiti was destroyed by the earthquake that devastated that country.

This weekend, she is graduating with the degree of bachelor of science in nursing from Spalding and set to add a member to her young family.

Liberal attended Friday’s Baccalaureate service on Friday nearly nine months pregnant with her son, who is due on June 23 and will be named Jeremiah. She said she expects to look back on pictures from this weekend years from now with him.

“I can say I have a career now, and I will be able to provide for him, give him everything I didn’t have growing up. I’m happy,” said Liberal, who was accompanied Friday by her husband and friends from their church.

She added with a laugh: “He’s been a good boy. I didn’t have too much trouble with him while I did the nursing program.”

At the time of the earthquake, 15-year-old Liberal was at home, but she was cooking in a kitchen that was in a different part of the building.

“Fortunately, none of my family members died, but we lost everything,” she said. “None of us were in the house at the time. But it was horrifying. A lot of people died.”

Liberal moved from Haiti to Florida in 2010 to finish high school. She also attended a community college in that state before moving in 2016 to Louisville, where she had family. She picked Spalding to finish out her BSN the next year because she “liked how they were so welcoming,” Liberal said.

“It’s hard, but it’s doable,” she said of the nursing degree. “It can be done, but it’s challenging. I enjoyed it. The professors were really helpful, really helpful.”

Commencement weekend felt bittersweet for Liberal. In November, a few weeks after she learned she was pregnant, Liberal lost her mother, who was still living in Haiti. She has had her mom on her mind as she approaches graduation. Liberal said she barely slept Thursday night as she stayed up thinking about her.

“I’m proud of what I have done, but it has been rough,” she said.

Liberal plans to be a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. At some point, she’d like to provide nursing and medical care in her home country, which she has visited every year since moving to the United States.

“That’s part of my plan,” she said. “I’d like to go back and help.”

Former Spalding golfer now a mom and grad
Bachelor of science in natural science graduate and former Spalding golfer Megan Shirley Faust had a special young guest at Friday’s Baccalaureate Service – her 2-month-old daughter, Madalyn.

Spalding student Megan Faust, in blue cap and gown, holding baby, Madalyn, in a car seat
Spalding student Megan Faust and 2-month-old daughter Madalyn after Baccalaureate service on May 31, 2019.

“It’s pretty awesome being able to experience it with her and her be in the moment with me,” Megan Faust said. Years from now, “I can show her what I did, and she’ll want to do the same.”

She said attending Spalding has been “a really great experience,” citing the experience of being an athlete and a student, as well as the bond she had with the golf team.

Faust was a senior on the 2017-18 Spalding team that won the first-ever St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship for women’s golf.

“That history is pretty awesome, being one of the first people to set those standards,” Faust said.

During her final academic year, Faust has had a new experience.

“Instead of going to practices and workouts and tournaments, I’m a mom and a student,” she said.

Faust currently works as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing home. She said she may at some point pursue a job in human resources.

College of Ed master’s grad: ‘I feel like I’ve gained a family here’
Destiny Nichole Livers, a teacher a Foster Elementary School who is earning the degree of master of education in teacher leadership, said she would recommend Spalding to other aspiring or current teachers.

“I loved Spalding. The staff is very supportive,” she said.

Livers, who taught fifth grade the last three years and who will move to third grade as a team leader next year, said she’s learned about methods and best practices at Spalding that she is eager to take back to her school and share with her colleagues.

“If someone is looking for a supportive family, not just professors – I feel like I’ve gained a family here at Spalding – then you would like Spalding,” Livers said. “If you want the college where you really don’t know your professors, then go somewhere else. But here, like I told Dr. (Kristen) Harris, (the Spalding program director), ‘You’re stuck with me for life.'”

Livers was the winner of the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for her program.


With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Amanda Jewell, who is earning the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She also holds offices in the Student Government Association and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students.

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
My favorite Spalding memory was when the School of Nursing won the 2019 Rat Race. I had never heard of this tradition prior to transferring to Spalding University, but it was definitely a fun and interesting experience being a “rat trainer.” We almost won the year before, so I was determined to pull through for first place this year!

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
Over the past two years at Spalding, I have served on the Student Government Association Senate for the School of Nursing and Executive Board as the Vice President of Non-traditional Students, the Second Vice President of the School of Nursing, and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students’ Executive Board as Secretary. Prior to attending Spalding, I hadn’t really been involved throughout my collegiate career, so it was a great experience!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spots on campus are the School of Nursing Laboratories. We have simulation mannequins to practice procedures on, so it has helped me improve my nursing skills.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
My close friends and family have inspired me to be a #spaldingworldchanger! I decided to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a pediatric nurse. Upon graduation, I am relocating to Cincinnati to work in the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit as a Registered Nurse. I could not be more excited for my next adventure to begin!

For those with cancer or other acute medical concerns, a diagnosis comes with a whole new vocabulary. Medical jargon can feel like a different language even for native English speakers, and for those who immigrated from elsewhere, understanding treatment options can be downright overwhelming.

Spalding University senior nursing student Valentina Nikic experienced these cultural challenges firsthand when her father, who fled Bosnia in the 1990s, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015. She said her parents often struggled to understand what the doctors and nurses were trying to tell them, and that they sometimes felt disrespected due to their cultural differences. Though her father is now cancer-free, the experience stayed with her.

“At a very young age, I noticed that doctor’s appointments and hospital visits were scarier for my parents because of the lack of translators, knowledge and comfort,” she said.

Sadly, this was not the first time Valentina endured the cancer diagnosis of a loved one. In late 2011, when Valentina was a junior at Presentation Academy in Louisville, a man who had been instrumental in helping the family get settled in Louisville after fleeing Bosnia—and had since become something of a father figure to Valentina and her three older siblings—was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He passed away within months.

“It was the first person I had lost in that way, and it happened so fast,” she said.

But through that dark time, Valentina once again found a bright spot in the nurses who cared for her friend. She recalls their boundless compassion and small acts of kindness that helped ease some suffering—not just for their patient, but for his loved ones as well.

“They were here for his close friends and family members too,” Valentina said. “They turned something that was sad and scary into something a little better.”

Now, Valentina is using those difficult experiences to change the world for patients and their families by offering them the same kindness, support, and understanding that she appreciated.

“I want to be that person that reminds patients that they can overcome what they are going through, or, if they are coming to the end of their life, make their last few weeks a little better,” Valentina said.

Valentina, who will continue her job as a telemetry nurse at Norton Children’s Hospital upon graduation this spring, said that she credits her Spalding professors for not only teaching her the technical skills to provide expert nursing care, but also for reinforcing the importance of connecting with patients as well. As a transfer student from a larger nursing program, Valentina said she appreciates Spalding’s smaller class sizes, and the personal attention she has received from her professors.

“My professors have put an emphasis on the fact that compassion encompasses nursing,” Valentina said. “I want to fully acknowledge patients’ cultural differences and include their translators so that they completely understand their medical diagnosis and recommended courses of treatment. And if they don’t, I want them to feel comfortable enough to ask questions.”


Spalding University School of Nursing senior Scotty Brooks has received an award as the top nursing student in Kentucky.

Brooks, who holds student nursing leadership positions at the university, state and national levels, was named the 2018 Kentucky Nurses Association Student of the Year. He received the honor Thursday, Nov. 1 at the KNA Annual Conference at the Holiday Inn Louisville East.

It’s latest in a long list of accolades and distinctions for Brooks, who serves as president of the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students and the chair of the National Student Nurses’ Association council of presidents of state nursing associations. He is the first Spalding student since at least the 1980s to serve on the NSNA board.

Brooks is also president of Spalding’s Student Government Association and Spalding University Nursing Students organization.

“I’m really excited to receive such a prestigious award from such an established organization,” Brooks said, “but really it’s just a true testament to the faculty and staff and students I’m surrounded by every day. (At Spalding), it’s a nurturing, welcoming environment, and they’ve all been very accommodating and supportive. I’ve just sort of been the recipient of all that support. It’s really their award, not mine.”

Brooks also received a one-year membership to the KNA.

He will represent Spalding next week at the National Student Nurses’ Association MidYear Career Planning Conference at the Galt House.

RELATED FEATURE: Spalding student Scotty Brooks holds leadership posititions at local, state, national levels


Spalding University announced Wednesday, Sept. 5, that it has reached a milestone in its ongoing, largest-ever capital fundraising campaign: surpassing $30 million in total contributions since 2014. They have supported new construction projects, facility improvements and academic and scholarship programs that broadly impact campus and student life.

The $30.4 million raised to date is a record for a Spalding campaign, and it far outpaces the original fundraising goals – $20 million by 2020 – set by the university’s board of trustees when it voted to launch the campaign four years ago. The goal was officially upped to $30 million in 2016.

“We are extremely grateful for the individuals and organizations who have stepped forward in support of our campaign and the mission and progress of Spalding,” Chief Advancement Officer Bert Griffin said. “We’ve made improvements all over campus and have not used any tuition dollars to make it happen.”

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure added: “Through this campaign, we have provided our students and the community with more resources and services while making our campus greener and more beautiful. We are grateful to our many partners who are helping us meet the needs of the times and change our community for the better.”

Some highlights of the $30 million capital campaign:

● Nearly $11 million in student scholarships and fieldwork stipends have been or will be distributed by way of the campaign, including more than $4 million in federal grants for clinical psychology and social work students from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

● More than $7 million has been donated or pledged in support of a greening initiative that has beautified the 23-acre downtown campus. Completed projects include the Mother Catherine Spalding Square green space on West Breckenridge Street between South Third and South Fourth and 2.2-acre Trager Park, which, in partnership with Louisville Gas and Electric Company and the Trager Family Foundation, opened last fall at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky. The Trager Park site was formerly an unused asphalt lot.

Ongoing outdoor projects are the seven-acre athletic fields complex between South Eighth and South Ninth streets that will be the home of Spalding’s NCAA Division III softball and soccer teams, and the Contemplative Garden at Spalding University, which will be a meditation space at 828 S. Fourth St. that is designed to honor Trappist Monk Thomas Merton and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Thanks to a recent anonymous $500,000 challenge grant, installation of the playing surfaces at the fields complex is expected to begin this fall, and it could be ready for competition by late spring 2019.

FROM WHAS: Spalding works to build Ninth Street ‘Field of Dreams’

● Kosair Charities has contributed more than $1.2 million to Spalding in support of the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) assistive-technology resource center, the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy and the Spalding School of Nursing.

RELATED: Spalding, enTECH receive $275,000 grant from Kosair Charities

● A $500,000 challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation has helped raise $1 million to develop programs focused on restorative justice and restorative practices as well as Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health.

● Nearly $1 million was raised to renovate the lower level of the Columbia Gym into a student fitness center and lounge.

● Other facilities that have undergone major improvements and modern updates are the Republic Bank Academic Center, which is the home of Spalding’s nursing and social work programs; the Spalding Library; the historic Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion; and the Egan Leadership Center Lectorium.

School of Nursing faculty member Dr. Nancy Kern is helping battle the recent hepatitis A outbreak in a way that aligns with Spalding University’s mission of spreading compassion and serving underserved and vulnerable populations.

Kern, an associate professor in Spalding’s Master of Science in Nursing program, and her husband, Paul, who works for Louisville Metro Government’s Department for Public Health and Wellness, have spent a night or two per week for the past several months traveling around the city administering hepatitis A vaccines to homeless citizens.

Since November, Kern said, she’d given shots to about 450 people they’ve encountered in parking lots, under overpasses or in back alleys.

“I’m very aware that this is what the university’s mission is, and when I’m with my students, it’s just kind of reminding them, ‘This is what we’re called to do,’” Kern said.

Kern said she and her husband do their hepatitis A vaccine work, literally, out of the back of their car, attempting to approach homeless folks in an unassuming way so they’ll be more likely to participate.

The homeless can be among the most vulnerable to the hepatitis A virus due to a lack of sanitation in their living conditions. They also are at risk for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and a co-infection with hepatitis A can have serious consequences.

But because drug use can be prevalent in homeless populations, those people tend to be leery of coming to a health department office or traditional brick-and-mortars medical facility to get a vaccine and or explain why they might be at risk. That led to the Kerns trying the mobile approach.

They offer food, some information about hepatitis and the opportunity to get a shot.

“If they’re not interested, it’s just, ‘OK, well, here’s some information,’” Nancy Kern said. “’If you know anybody who starts having these symptoms, tell them they need to get seen. Here’s some soap. Remember that hand sanitizer doesn’t work. You have to use soap and water to protect yourself.’ So we’re trying to do a lot of patient education but in a non-threatening, non-authoritarian way.”

Kern said she and her husband are happy to get two or three people vaccinated in a night, and over time, they hope that’ll build trust and get more people to participate when the Kerns show up again.

Kern is no stranger to working with the homeless, and she said she has “just always gravitated toward working with the underdog.” She has been a Red Cross volunteer since 1970 and has lived overseas and been exposed to folks living in extreme poverty.

“Many people just aren’t comfortable talking to somebody who’s homeless,” Kern said. “I’m not afraid of these folks. … I don’t care if they look disheveled. I don’t care if they haven’t had a bath in a while. I don’t care if they have a mental illness because my background is also in mental health.”

Kern has taken Spalding graduate and undergraduate nursing students with her on the hepatitis A street outreach trips and other service initiatives.

For example, Kern, assisted by four Spalding students, immunized 160 festival goers at the recent Pride Festival on the waterfront.

And last fall, Kern and Spalding undergraduate nursing professor Dr. Rebecca Gesler took a group of nursing students to Grundy, Va., to participate in the Remote Area Medical free clinic for underserved and uninsured individuals. The Spalding volunteers worked closely with dentists providing free dental care.

Kern said service learning is valuable to nursing students.

“With my students, they’re learning more about infection, about infectious disease, infection prevention with vaccination,” she said. “They learn patient education approaches.”

And as for working with homeless and other underserved populations, Kern said, “some students have never been confronted with something other than the life that they know. That’s what service learning is about.”

Kern has taught at Spalding for 10 years. A nurse practitioner who received her MSN and doctorate of education in leadership (EdD) from the university, Kern teaches graduate courses in health assessment, adult primary care and the theoretical foundations of nursing as well as a scholarly synthesis course in which she guides MSN students through evidence-based projects.

She is also in practice at Norton Occupational Medicine.

Asked in a recent interview during National Nurses Week why she thinks nurses should be appreciated, Kern said nurses have “the unique experience of being with you at the very best of times, like when your baby is born, to the very worst of times.”

“We enter a very sacred space with our patients,” she said.

More information | Read more about the historic Spalding School of Nursing