Assistant Director of Nursing
Walker College of Health Professions
Geralyn Frandsen is the director of the undergraduate nursing program at Maryville University. Over the course of her career, she has gained extensive experience with patients spanning every stage of life, from pediatrics through elderly and end-of-life care. Dr. Frandsen practiced as a nurse for a decade at the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis, and she earned her Doctorate of Education in higher education from Saint Louis University, where her dissertation focused on mentoring. She obtained her master’s degree in community health nursing and nursing education, and remains focused on developing the best possible practices for mentoring nursing faculty and nursing students. She is the co-author of a pharmacology textbook, Abrams’ Clinical Drug Therapy: Rationales for Nursing Practice.
How Professor Geralyn Frandsen’s Childhood Fascination with Nursing Evolved into a Fulfilling Career
When Geralyn Frandsen says she always knew she wanted to be a nurse, she means it even more literally than most people do when reflecting on their careers. She remembers being four years old and fixating on the nurse characters in the soap operas she watched with her grandmother; she remembers coming through the school library in grade school in search of every last book about nurses. In high school, she built into her schedule the science and math classes that she was told would help her prepare for nursing school. Frandsen had an unwavering vision of her future career and she intended to do all she could to chase it down.
Then came nursing school itself, and a rude awakening Frandsen hadn’t prepared for: She was struggling to match her grades to the passion that she had always felt for the profession. She’d enrolled in a two-year, hospital-based program, and was finding it harder than expected to meet the standards on paper that she knew she was capable of.
Frandsen considers what happened next to be the reason she stuck with her long-held vision for her own destiny: She found Maryville, and with that, the mentors who would not only help her thrive academically, but also seed in her a passion and dedication to mentoring nursing faculty and students.
After just one semester in the bachelor of nursing program at Maryville, Frandsen’s GPA made a huge leap.
“The professors I had at Maryville in my first semester and the rest of the bachelor’s program really made me what I am today,” Frandsen says. “I graduated and went right into a master’s program—and the dream was to come back to Maryville to teach.”
This time, the plan proceeded just as expected: Frandsen began teaching full time at Maryville immediately after completing her Master’s in Nursing Education. That was in 1991—and Frandsen has been teaching and mentoring at Maryville ever since.
After earning her doctorate in higher education, Frandsen’s research has focused on mentoring nursing faculty in higher education settings. She notes that mentoring faculty can prove especially important in the nursing field, given nursing’s long history alongside other professional programs in the “trades” category of academia.
Also integral to becoming a stellar nursing instructor, Frandsen says, were her 11 years working as a home care nurse, as well as her work in palliative and hospice care. As a nurse with the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis, she often made home visits to the underprivileged in St. Louis, as well as to hospitals and various other settings. Frandsen also worked with Little Sisters of the Poor, a nursing home run by nuns for those who might not otherwise afford such care. Frandsen said these particular experiences forged in her an understanding that nursing care must be offered without judgment—a lesson that she believes has also made her a better mentor.
Most of all, though, she credits the Maryville community with shaping her into the instructor and mentor she is today. And Frandsen acknowledges that she’s not the only one who feels this way: she’s found that it’s common for students studying at Maryville to decide, like she did, that they want to come back to the community to teach. She says that currently, three of her fellow faculty members were her students in Maryville’s Master’s of Nursing Education program.
“Maryville is just a really amazing place in the respect that the people that taught me, the professors I had in the semesters I was here as a student just really knew how to care,” Frandsen says. “They really knew how to spark your knowledge, your enthusiasm for education. And that’s what I wanted to continue to do throughout my career.”
Abrams’ Clinical Drug Therapy: Rationales for Nursing Practice, co-authored with Sandra Smith Pennington
Berman, A., Snyder, S., & Frandsen, G. (2016). Kozier and Erb’s Fundamentals of Nursing. (10th edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Publishers.
Frandsen, G. & Pennington, S. (2014). Abrams’ Clinical Drug Therapy. (10th edition). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins.
- NURS 206: Pharmacology and Nursing Management
- NURS 412: Nursing Care at the End of Life
- NURS 615: Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics
Areas of Expertise:
- Community health nursing
- Improving access to healthcare
- Nursing education and mentoring