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Gatepost Interview: Lisa Thomas, Nursing Professor

A photo of Lisa Thomas.
Courtesy of Framingham State

By Branden LaCroix

What is your educational and professional background?

I’ve been a nurse for 32 years. I started my career at Children’s Hospital Boston, and worked there in pediatric oncology for a number of years. Then, I went back and I got my master’s degree at Northeastern University and then became a nurse practitioner. I went into pediatric primary care for about 10 years. Then, I stepped back into pediatric oncology, worked with the Jimmy Fund Clinic as a nurse practitioner, and then started my sort-of journey in academia in 2006. So I’ve been doing academics since then. I started in an ADN Program – associate degree program – and then worked in a bachelor’s degree program, and here I am in the master’s program. So I just kind of stepped my way up.

What is your role here at FSU and what does your job entail?

I coordinate the graduate studies for the Nursing Department. We have three concentrations for master of science in nursing, and we have four certificate programs.

What made you want to become a nursing professor?

I did it for lifestyle – I needed a different schedule. So I went into academia – away from practice. But what I learned as I made that switch is how much I love doing education. I just love it. When I see a light bulb go off in a student’s eyes when they finally make the connection – when they get it – I think that’s my drive to continue in education. I’ve always loved teaching, though. As a practicing nurse, I precepted students. I loved working with nursing students or taking a step into academia, and doing that full-time was a good path for me.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Teaching. There’s a lot of administrative stuff with the coordinating, but what I enjoy is making those connections with students. So, although my classrooms are on Zoom right now, I enjoy being in the virtual classroom – engaging with students. Our class sizes are small, so it’s nice to have that. I love working with this level of nursing students because they’re practicing nurses, so they bring a lot of their clinical practice into the classroom. I enjoy working one-on-one with students, so my office hours are usually pretty full – where I’m meeting with students and either talking about advising issues or course questions. And I teach the capstone course, so developing their capstone projects and so forth.

What are some of your personal hobbies?

I like to ski – downhill skiing. For the warm weather, I’m a beach person and ocean person, so I’m oftentimes at the beach in the summertime. And then I like to read, walk, and snowshoe – I’m pretty active.

Do you have any advice for FSU students?

I got my undergraduate education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, so I really believe in state education because it opened so many doors for me. So, I think, take advantage of your education no matter what level you’re at. ... Really experience everything that your college experience can offer you and do the extras.

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