"Technology has made huge advances, but these need to be counterbalanced with disciplined caring."
Registered Nurse and Professor
Former Associate Professor, Adelphi University
Dr. Stern began her teaching career at Adelphi on a part-time basis while working at Meadowbrook Hospital. She admired the personal characteristics and dedication of the students, and became a devoted nurse educator. After earning her master’s degree from Columbia University in 1959, she returned to Adelphi and eventually was promoted to an associate professor. In addition to Adelphi, she has taught at SUNY Stony Brook University, the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University, the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, and Molloy College. She retired from teaching in 1995.
Dr. Stern is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medallion from the Nassau County chapter of the American Heart Association, and was a Squibb Centennial Fellow as well as a USPHS award recipient.
When and why did you first want to become a nurse?
Growing up in St. Albans, Queens, I always had the desire to go to college, but even more than that, I wanted to do something really significant with my life. When I graduated from high school in 1949, a childhood friend and I enrolled at the Flower Fifth Avenue School of Nursing, a three-year diploma program. Following graduation, I began my nursing career at Meadowbrook Hospital. I attended Adelphi part-time and earned my bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1956.
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
Adelphi was my choice, because I was working nearby and could attend part-time. I loved all my classes, especially those in history and literature. I remember professors Ann King, Robert Ernst, and Donald Koster. I joined the faculty as a full-time instructor in the School of Nursing after earning my master’s degree.
Years later, I entered the first Ph.D. class of the Adelphi University School of Nursing. Three or four of us used to meet on Fridays, go to an exercise class together, eat lunch, and work together on statistics assignments. We joined our initials on our statistical printouts using the acronym magremost.
What are some of the changes you have seen in nursing through the years?
Technology has made huge advances, but these need to be counterbalanced with disciplined caring. The shortage of nurses at the patient’s side has diminished the quality of care.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Be authentic, compassionate, and listen more than you speak. The essence of nursing is the helping relationship. One of my favorite memories occurred while I was a nursing student. I was assigned to care for a little boy named Ralph, who had been badly burned. He was in the hospital for a long time, and wouldn’t speak or connect to anyone emotionally. One day, another child’s parents brought in a red balloon, and when Ralph saw it, he smiled. I can still remember the joy I felt that day, seeing his first happy response. The day he was discharged, he gave me a small, white plastic statue of the Blessed Mother; it is one of my greatest treasures.
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