From the time she was little, growing up on a farm in Reinbeck, Iowa, Jan Lee always had a strong desire to go to college and become a nurse. Although she was innately driven and determined to fulfill her academic and professional ambitions, Lee never imagined the doors that her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Iowa would open up throughout her career.
“My BSN from Iowa, and all that it entailed, was my key—my gateway to professional nursing practice. It unlocked many doors for me and facilitated my early practice experiences in caring for people with head and neck cancers (a difficult diagnosis in the late 1970s),” she explains. “I received an excellent BSN foundation and was extremely well prepared when I entered the profession.”
Throughout her career, Dr. Lee has practiced in community settings that are quite diverse from each other (e.g., Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, MI, Knoxville, TN, and now finds herself back in Iowa). She believes in giving back to the profession through a career in practice and nursing education. She has taught in several prestigious universities around the country—USC, UCLA, Michigan, Tennessee—and was recently named chair of the nursing department at Clarke University in Dubuque.
“I have had the good fortune to live in various parts of the country. In every community, I had something to offer, both because of my professional nursing expertise but also because of an ethic of caring and giving back which I learned at home and from the College of Nursing,” says Lee. “As an Iowa farm girl, I never dreamed that I would one day travel to Seoul, South Korea, or Okinawa, Japan, or Yerevan, Armenia, all because of strong nursing connections that began at UI.”
Looking back, Lee says she feels very fortunate to have been a student at the College of Nursing and has a lot of fond memories.
“Although they were challenging, I really loved my clinical studies. I just learned so much from both classroom and clinical instructors. I could go on and on. Earning my BSN at Iowa had everything to do with where I am professionally today. It was a tremendous starting point … it opened a lot of doors.”