"I became involved in nursing because of a desire to help others and improve their wellbeing," explains Dr. Jeanne Hopple, a nurse practitioner with 41 years of nursing experience who today serves as the Program Director for the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner Program at South University, Austin.
Acquiring Experience across the Nursing Field
Helping people, Hopple says, has always been her passion. As a young woman, she enjoyed volunteering as a candy striper in a local hospital, and, when her sister became a nurse, Hopple decided to follow in her footsteps.
After earning her BSN in 1977, Hopple began working as an RN in a Florida hospital. Over time, she explored numerous specialties, working in neurology, medical intensive care, critical care, and medical progressive care as well as spending time as a Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse Specialist. She was particularly drawn to palliative care for older adults and doing her part to makes their lives a little better.
Before long, Hopple was educating other nurses as well. "I always enjoyed being the clinical preceptor or being in charge of orientation for new nurses," she says. "For a while, I wound up teaching critical care, bringing in my mannequin and crash cart, checking to see how the nurses answered codes and handled rapid response drills. I discovered a love for teaching."
To develop her skills across these diverse areas, Hopple earned her MSN specializing in adult health nurse practitioner and cardiovascular clinical nursing and minoring in nursing education. Equipped with this degree, Hopple spent the next decade working mostly in cardiology as a nurse practitioner across medical centers, physicians' offices, hospitals, and nursing homes. In 2002, she accepted her first position teaching nursing at a university where she also worked as a nurse practitioner with student health services.
Soon, however, Hopple became interested in providing care across the lifespan, not just for adults. She returned to school again, first for a post master's family nurse practitioner certificate and then for a PhD in Nursing Science. While in school, Hopple held various nurse practitioner roles in acute care, nephrology, women's health, and family care while also teaching and serving as a clinical preceptor.
Bringing Nursing Expertise into the Classroom
After finishing her PhD in 2011, Hopple began shifting more of her time to teaching (first in Florida and then in Tennessee), while still maintaining her clinical skills in part-time nurse practitioner roles. In 2014, she joined the South University family, moving to Georgia to teach in our nursing programs in Savannah. While there, she worked first at a federally qualified health care center and then with a VA clinic doing intake assessments for veterans coming out of active duty.
In 2017, Hopple relocated again—this time to become the director of our MSN-FNP program in Austin. She also teaches in the program, including the course that introduces new students to the nurse practitioner profession. "This is broadening way out from the RN role," she says. "From day one, you’re learning a whole new role. You’re building on your RN knowledge and it’s going to help you, but now you’re going to be the advanced care provider for people with all types of health needs, from infants to elderly."
To prepare students for this transition, Hopple shares many of her own experiences from family medicine. She also makes sure her students understand the academic resources available to them and brings in the campus librarian to teach research and writing skills as well as review the library services. Being in Austin, she even arranged for her students to attend the Health Care Policy & Leadership Conference for Texas Nurse Practitioners last year at the Capitol building.
"The personal connection is what I love about South University. I can pick up the phone and call my students. They know me, I know them," she says. "If they're struggling, I can ask what's going on and whether there's anything I can help with or that they want to talk about. Sometimes it's a family or health or personal issue. Life happens. They know my door is open. We’re here. We care about them. We want to take you forward, to make a difference in your life."
Interested in learning more about the nursing programs and faculty at South University? Explore our College of Nursing and Public Health today!