Dr. Christian Named Nurse Educator of the Year Award

August 18, 2016

LaDonna Christian

We caught up with SNHS faculty member LaDonna Christian about her award — and the Dotson Bridge and Mentoring program!

What do you teach at Simmons?

I teach in the department of nursing and I'm the director of the Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program, a resource program for both undergraduate and graduate nursing students. 

I provide academic services — including workshops on test takings skills, organizational skills, time management and medication calculations — for all nursing students and I also provide mentors for ALANA nursing students. 

What was it like winning the Nurse Educator of the Year award from the National Black Nurses Association?

Exciting and humbling. It was like winning the lottery because I got an award for doing what I love: helping people. What could be better than that!

What does this honor mean to you?

This honor means that I'm doing something right and I need to continue to push forward to create more innovative programs to help all nursing students. As the issues of diversity and inclusion remain a priority of this college, my challenge will be to create an inclusive environment for all students to come together, learn together and use the resources provided by Simmons together.

Tell us about the Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program.

Our model is based on the idea of forming a community/village of inclusion for the scholars. We started in 2009 with 8 scholars, 6 mentors and 2 faculty. We presently have about 85 scholars and 21 mentors and faculty. We've graduated over 100 scholars and have a less than 4% attrition rate from the program. Our scholars have come from all over the world and have spoken 32 different languages; about 24% of them having English as their second or third language. Mentors help them with social/cultural challenges that may be very different than the traditional Western culture. Since the program's inception the nursing course and NCLEX (Nursing Certification Exam) pass rates have increased 15-20% each year.

What's the best part of being director of the Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program?

Learning about different cultures. I enjoy being the liaison and advocate for the ALANA nursing scholars because it establishes that the department of nursing is taking their needs seriously. Also graduation day, the smiling faces of the scholars and family members, the pictures, the hugs — they are priceless. 

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?

West Africa. I recently did genetic testing and found out that my family came from one of these countries. I'm not sure what country yet — I think Mali, Niger, or maybe Nigeria. I hear so many things about these countries that I want to go and see for myself where my family came from.

What's your Simmons moment?

The Dorthea Dix program is a support system that I admire and embrace. The richness of the Dotson program mostly stems from those students admitted to the department of nursing from the Dix program. 

I will never forget the oldest student to graduate from the department of nursing was 67 years old. She came from Nigeria to go to school in America to become a registered nurse. Her plan was to return to Nigeria and open a home for elderly women. Her graduation was a day I will never forget. That is the type of woman Simmons inspires and that is why I love Simmons!

Dr. LaDonna Christian with Dr. Eric Williams, president of the National Black Nurses Association.