Dr. Susan Bonnell, Associate Professor

Faculty, Susan Bonnell

"I think of my students as my 'patients' and try to be the best that I can be to meet their needs so they can be successful. I also try to expose them to the multiple ways of being a nurse and encourage them to seek and find their own dreams for the people we care for."

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Degrees Held:

  • PhD – University of San Diego, 2010
  • MSN – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner track – University of San Diego, 2002
  • BSN – University of San Diego, 2001
  • ADN – Lane Community College, 1975

Career Highlights:


  • Bonnell, S. (2010). The effect of SHAPEDOWN on self-esteem and habits on 8-12 year old overweight children. (PhD Dissertation)
  • Bonnell, S., Macauley, K., & Nolan, S. Management and handoff of a deteriorating patient from primary to acute care settings: A nursing academic and acute care collaborative case scenario. Simulation in Healthcare, 8 (3): 180-182.
  • Bonnell, S., Griggs, A., Avila, G., Mack, J., Bush, R., Vignato, J., & Connelly, C. D. Community Health Workers and Use of mHealth: Improving Identification of Pregnancy Complications and Access to Care in the Dominican Republic. Accepted in review 2016 Health Care Promotion.


  1. Bonnell, S. "Effect of a Family based Behavioral Treatment Program on Obese Children. Poster /abstract presentation" Western Institute of Nursing, Portland, Oregon. March 2009
  2. Bonnell, S. "International Health Missions and the Dominican Republic." Panel Presentation prior to Dr. Paul Farmer's presentation for Health and Human Rights. University of San Diego: October 8, 2009.
  3. Bonnell, S. & Macaulay, K. "Use of Standardized Patients to Reduce Faculty Work Hours". California Institute for Nursing and Health Care Annual Conference: Magic in Teaching Ontario, CA. March 10, 2010.

Service and volunteer experience:

  • NAPNAP active member 2002 to present
  • Reviewer: 2013 Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Odyssey Conference, San Diego, CA, November 2013.
  • Lead faculty for nursing health missions for 2 weeks each January in the Dominican Republic. 2004 to 2016.

  • What do you want students to take away from your classes? What do you want them to learn?

    My goal as an educator is to teach current information significant to the discipline of nursing...Since my goal is to foster critical thinking, introduce and prepare BSN students to their role as nurses and learn to function effectively in their roles with a diversity of information, I bring questions to stimulate discussion.

    Class structure is based on the course description and objectives, incorporating various methods of teaching, including visual, auditory, peer review and discussion. Course assignments are oriented to provide thoughtful personal opportunities for reading and learning and to encourage a shared discourse and writing scholarship in the classroom.

    In conclusion, my goal is to provide an intellectually stimulating and shared learning environment that encourages student academic success and skill building for their future role as a nurse.

  • What is the value of a BSN?

    I believe that all nurses should be minimally prepared at the BSN level. The range of scientific and caring practices content that requires presentation, thoughtful reflection and formative skill practice has grown immensely. Students require the skills to continue to stay abreast of practice and theory changes as they become employed nurses. I also believe that there is much work to be done in health, illness, and wellness research and practice and that students should be prepared to be able to engage in areas that have not even been thought of yet. We are preparing the next generation of healthcare providers, and the sky is the limit...students need to understand that and be prepared to take responsibility for the future.

  • Why did you start teaching?

    I eased into teaching by working with students in the clinical setting, teaching those pediatric skills I was most comfortable with. That led to expanded opportunities to be mentored and grow into the theoretical didactic academia world. I had the opportunity to study and practice and certify as a simulation and standardized patient expert, and began incorporating that methodology into my classroom. I found myself feeling accomplished and confident in the resources and experiences that I could bring to each learning situation, and have found it to be both challenging and personally satisfying.

  • What advice would you give to nurses considering the online RN to BSN track?

    I would recommend defining why the goal of achieving a BSN is personally important. I would organize my work and share my goals with my supervisor and peer support persons. I would start with one course and dedicate daily/weekly devoted time for study and completion. I would prioritize my other responsibilities, and seek support of my family.

  • Why are you interested in nursing? What drew you to this field?

    I love nursing! Working with patients and making a difference...there is no greater sense of what is most important in life. I think of my students as my "patients" and try to be the best that I can be to meet their needs so they can be successful. I also try to expose them to the multiple ways of being a nurse and encourage them to seek and find their own dreams for the people we care for.

  • What qualities make someone particularly successful in nursing?

    Discipline, knowledge and creativity.

    Flexibility and being in tune to others.

    Deep intuitive caring, developed from one personal and caring experience to the next.

    Understanding that one will never know enough, be enough, care enough...and that as nurses we must support and challenge each other as we work collaboratively for the greatest good.

  • What do you think is the biggest challenge that nurses face today?

    Funding. The fact that healthcare's value is based in money and power, versus the importance of health for every person in our world.

  • What is the one book you think everyone should read?

    The Power of One.

  • Tell us something your students may not know about you:

    I share a lot with my students. I am very honored to have had the opportunity and the sense that I wanted to be a nurse while still a teenager and that I had the support and motivation to go through the academic challenge of nursing school, which was very difficult for me.

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