The day Dr. Kendra Hoepper graduated from nursing school, her mother – also a nurse – passed along a gift that today, 40 years later, connects both past and present.
The gift was a class ring from Dominican Commercial High School in New York.
This summer Dr. Hoepper was named chair of the Department of Nursing at Dominican University of California after joining the university in January as an associate professor in the nursing program.
“The moment I heard about the opportunity to work at Dominican University of California I had a visceral feeling that this was the right move to make,” Dr. Hoepper says, looking at the ring she has worn every day since her graduation.
“My mom was also a nurse – and she was my role model. The connections to Dominican are strong, and from the moment I visited the Dominican campus I knew that I was meant to be part of this university.”
Dr. Hoepper began her appointment as Chair of the Nursing Department on July 1, after joining Dominican in January as a full-time member of the nursing faculty.
“Dr. Hoepper is a tremendous addition to our Nursing department. She brings a wealth of knowledge about nursing education, the profession, and its challenges,” says Dr. Carl Garrubba, Dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences.
“We are fortunate to have found her and so excited that she fits in so well with our University values. She has already made a positive impact in the department and we are looking forward to her exceptional leadership as our nursing department continues to grow and develop.”
The move from New York – where Dr. Hoepper most recently was Director of The Undergraduate Nursing Program at Long Island University – was an easy decision and transition to make.
“I wanted to find a university with values and mission that were parallel to my own values,” she says. “I found that Dominican University and The Nursing Program aligned perfectly”
She was particularly drawn to the Dominican Experience, the university’s educational model that helps all students, regardless of major, to enjoy greater success during and after college.
Dr. Hoepper’s professional career has encompassed nursing education in both the hospital and collegiate setting, working as a nurse for 40 years and in academia since 2000. Her extensive experience includes both undergraduate and graduate education teaching courses across the curriculum from introduction to professional nursing to senior leadership and research courses, as well as development and implementation of simulation in both the hospital clinical setting and in several nursing programs.
Dr. Hoepper received her BSN from the University of Illinois – Chicago in 1983, her MSN/Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in 2000 and DNP in 2018 both from Molloy University. Her doctoral scholarly project, titled “Implementation of an Intimate Partner Violence Education Program for at Risk Adolescents,” focused on students attending an alternative high school who belonged to populations with higher statistics of facing intimate partner violence. She has dedicated the past 18 years to increasing awareness about intimate partner violence among all age groups. Her work included partnering with a Catholic ministry and serving as a court advocate for victims in Illinois, serving as hospital advocate for victims in New York and developing and providing education programs to increase awareness of Intimate partner violence and human trafficking in the community and collegiate settings.
Dr. Hoepper’s strong background in research includes an ongoing project she started in 2017 at Molloy University as a doctoral student working with a fellow doctoral Student’s project to improve awareness of sudden cardiac arrest. The project included offer CPR training in both college and community settings. Over the years, the project has helped to train more than 4,000 people both at Molloy University and in the surrounding community through partnerships with the American Heart Association, Parent Hearth Watch as well as local organizations and schools. Nursing students served as program ambassadors on the campus and in the community, offering CPR training to both youth and adults. Dr. Hoepper and her colleagues have disseminated their work in journals and at local and regional conferences across the country. Because of this work, Molloy University hopes to become the first university to receive a “Heart Safe Community” designation in New York later this year. Dr. Hoepper’s plan is to replicate the program at Dominican.
In addition, her work as the Clinical Nurse Educator in Oncology prompted another research project, which focused on techniques to reduce “compassion fatigue” among oncology nurses through a self-care program that incorporated a variety of stress reduction and relaxation activities. The results of this project validated the importance of implementing self-care strategies – including art therapy, music therapy, journaling, and improved nutrition - to reduce compassion fatigue and burnout among the oncology nurses. This research provided the impetus to develop a health promotion and self-care course for college students in the collegiate setting.
Dr. Hoepper now plans to introduce a similar health promotion/self-care program for both faculty and students in the Department of Nursing. The faculty program will incorporate monthly health and wellness initiatives driven by faculty, including sharing healthy meal recipes, establishing relaxation and stress reduction activities and peer support. For students, she plans to explore the opportunity to offer a Health Promotion and Self Care Course.
“Self-care is so important because in order to take care of others we have to first care for ourselves,” Dr. Hoepper says.