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Nursing Professor Linda Strong Joins American Health Council Board

After 40 years, public health is still her passion

Nursing Professor Linda Strong talks with students who are volunteering for the Aging with Grace program for senior citizens at Hall Neighborhood House in Bridgeport.

By Kim Primicerio

Nursing Professor Linda Strong has been selected to join the nursing board at the American Health Council, where she will share her expertise in public health nursing and emergency preparedness.

faculty_lindastrong2Strong, who has worked at SHU for 25 years, said she was surprised to learn in December that board members had nominated her to join them, and she was stunned when she heard her nomination was approved. She said she’s looking forward to working with the group of health professionals.

In addition to Strong’s teaching responsibilities, she is director of SHU’s programs for registered nurses who want to earn the bachelor’s degree in nursing, or those who want to earn a bachelor’s and continue on for a master’s in nursing.

Born and raised in Stratford, Strong said she always knew she wanted to be a nurse. She volunteered thousands of hours at the former Park City Hospital in Bridgeport during high school. With good grades and a serious drive, Strong earned a partial scholarship to the University of Bridgeport, where, she said, she learned the trade from the “best nurses I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Until her last semester there, Strong said, her instructors were urging her toward a career in acute care, or treatment of serious injuries and illnesses. “I had never fallen in love with acute care,” Strong said. Then, in her final year of college, she took a course in public health and found her calling. After her graduation in 1976, Strong took a public health job in Waterbury.

“Once I started, I was in love,” Strong said. “I never lost the passion for public health and public health nursing.” She said she was working with the most vulnerable populations, and there was a need for such work. Her patients received preventive care, and many avoided hospital stays.

While Strong loved nursing, she also knew she wanted to teach. This led to more schooling.

She obtained a master’s degree in community public health nursing from the Catholic University of America in 1980 and later earned her doctorate from Teachers College of Columbia University in 1996. Her first teaching job was at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, followed by Montana State University.

“I wanted to see if the West was a place I wanted to be,” Strong said. The people she encountered were wonderful, she said, and she loved the landscapes, but after three years of enduring the harsh cold, she returned to Connecticut.

Strong worked in home care for about five years before accepting a position at SHU to teach public health nursing. Currently, her day-to-day responsibilities include curriculum development, program development, faculty management, inter-professional education and practice and providing outreach care to under-served populations. She volunteers every Wednesday at a nonprofit, the Hall Neighborhood House in Bridgeport, providing care to the community.

Strong’s commitment to the field of nursing has brought her an impressive array of awards: the Joseph A. Grau Award for Social Justice, State of Connecticut Community-Campus Recognition, Healthcare Heroes Award, the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nursing Award, Excellence in Nursing Award (Nightingale), AACN & John A. Hartford Award (special recognition for curriculum in gerontologic nursing) and the U.S. Public Health Service Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Volunteer Service.

As a recipient of the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the New England Medical Reserve Corps, Strong has been recognized for providing support to the Stratford Department of Health in times of disaster. Her unwavering dedication extends to service learning experiences with the Lakota Sioux Community in La Plant, South Dakota; people in El Salvador; and Latinos and African-Americans in Bridgeport.