Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing


Meet New Dean, Lorna Finnegan, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN

Lorna Finnegan, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN, joined the Loyola University Chicago community as Dean of its Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing on July 1, 2019. She joins Loyola from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Nursing, where she was Executive Associate Dean and an Associate Professor of Health Systems Science.

What attracted you to this leadership position at Niehoff?

The MNSON mission and core values are a good fit with my career-long commitment to social justice and improving care for vulnerable and underserved populations. As I read about the position, I was struck by this description: “entrepreneurial and collaborative Dean who can take a strong and vibrant school to greater heights.” As I learned more about MNSON and talked with faculty, students and staff during my campus interviews, I was convinced that the school’s welcoming and inclusive environment, its vibrancy and strength, clearly were embedded into the fabric of the school. I am honored to walk alongside faculty, students, and staff as we work together to build on Dean Keough’s success and move the MNSON to even greater heights.

What most excites you about this new role?

This role is a wonderful opportunity to leverage all aspects of my nursing career: practice, research, teaching, and leadership, and work with faculty, staff, and students to create a shared vision that will lead to continued growth and success.

Niehoff students attend classes at the Lake Shore and Health Sciences campuses as well as at the Downers Grove site. Where will you be based?
I have offices at the Lake Shore and Health Sciences campuses, and I also will be visiting the Downers Grove site on a regular basis.

Tell us about some research that you’ve conducted and/or your particular areas of interest in nursing.

As a clinician, scholar, teacher, and leader, I have focused on increasing access to primary care and improving health in vulnerable and underserved populations.

My primary care practice inspired my research. I noticed the paradox of promoting health in patients with multiple chronic illnesses, influenced by complex upstream social determinants. Using innovative, big data analytics, I developed a framework, modeling symptom cluster subgroups within the context of personal and environmental risk and protective factors. This work provides a valuable new direction for the development of group interventions targeted to reduce symptom clusters in primary care.

Through creative pedagogies and academic-practice partnerships I created innovative clinical education models for nursing care delivery. Through my involvement with the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF), I have led successful, national initiatives that changed nurse practitioner education. Now, as NONPF president, I am leading strategies to help nurse practitioner (NP) programs transition to the DNP degree as entry into NP practice.

What do the first 100 days at Niehoff look like for you?

My plan for the first 100 days is to learn everything I can about MNSON, the Health Sciences and Lake Shore campuses, the broader Loyola community, and our practice partners. I look forward to meeting with faculty, staff, students, and alumni, through a variety of informal gatherings. By listening and learning, I will better understand specific needs and goals to help me connect the dots and shape a shared vision. Through this vision, we will build on success and identify new strategies to further strengthen the school’s – and our students’ – impact.

Do you plan to teach?

I really love teaching and connecting with students energizes me. Although I will not have responsibility for specific courses, I plan to stay involved in teaching through guest lectures.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months – and what made it a good read?

The best book I read in the last 12 months was Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. The book’s many inspiring quotes are words of wisdom for leadership and life in general. Here is one quote that is especially meaningful to me as I embark on this new journey as MNSON Dean: “For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”