Denise Neill started her career as an associate-degree nurse. Four years later she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. When her son began kindergarten, Neill returned to school for her master’s degree and subsequently began her doctorate coursework when he started high school. Neill worked as a nurse for 15 years before entering academia full-time.
Since then, Neill has taught in associate’s, pre-licensure BSN, RN to BSN and MSN programs. She first experienced The Texas A&M University System working at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, where she helped build the RN to BSN program. Program development is one of Neill’s career strengths, with experience as lead faculty building four different RN to BSN programs. Before joining A&M-Commerce, Neill served as director of the School of Nursing at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
She now lives in Commerce with her husband, Lance, who is a nurse educator at Paris Junior College. Her daughter, Victoria, is a licensed specialist in school psychology for Huntsville ISD. Her son, Garrett, is a middle school theater arts teacher for New Caney ISD.
While she admits missing some of the conveniences of living in the suburbs of Houston, Neill said she enjoys the pace of a smaller community and the short commute.
A Conversation with Dr. Neill
What would you tell a student who is thinking about attending A&M-Commerce?
“Look at all the university and community have to offer. Compare our program to others in the region. Determine what’s important to you. We offer small classes where you are a person that your faculty will know by name. Our program has a demonstrated record of success and our nursing graduates have no problem finding employment.”
What draws you to your discipline?
“Nursing is an integral part of who I am. Nurses are intelligent, independent practitioners who function within teams to provide care for our communities. The diversity or opportunity and practice settings are stimulating and ensure there is always something new to learn. Nursing is challenging and rewarding simultaneously. As a nursing student, I worked harder than I had ever worked in my life but the rewards are priceless. I know when I leave work every day that I made a difference for at least one person. As a nurse educator, preparing the next generation of registered nurses means that there will be someone to care for me and my family when we need that care.”
What has been your favorite course to teach?
“My favorite undergraduate course is community nursing. The course is often a student’s first consistent exposure to non-acute care settings. The course challenges students to think beyond the individual to groups and populations and encourages the student to really focus on health promotion activities.
My favorite graduate course was curriculum development when I taught in a nursing education master’s program. I enjoyed exposing students to the various things faculty must consider in order to design a program of study. I enjoyed challenging students to think outside the box as they worked in groups to develop their own nursing program.”
Tell us about a project you are currently working on or recently completed?
“Since joining the university, I’ve spent time becoming familiar with our programs. I’m working with our faculty to revise our RN to BSN program. We want to maintain quality in education while creating a program that recognizes prior learning and the needs of a working nurse.
Also, I am the conference program chair for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Organizational Leaders Network. I’ve spent the last eight months working with a team of nurses to identify a topic, write objectives and identify a speaker for our annual event. This year has been particularly challenging due to the constantly changing environment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made to switch to a virtual format in July and I’m working with organizational staff and the committee to adjust from a 6-hour, in-person conference presentation to a 2-hour virtual presentation.”
- Ph.D., Nursing, Texas Woman’s University, 2006
- MSN, University of Central Arkansas, 1997
- BSN, University of Central Arkansas, 1985
- AAS, Southern Arkansas University, 1981
- Nurse workload, specifically cognitive workload
- Student resilience and success
- Faculty role development and workload
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Organizational Leaders Network
- Texas Nurses Association, District 9 treasurer
- Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education
- Sigma Theta Tau International, Alpha Alpha Xi chapter