For nearly 25 years, Professor Linda Jowett has introduced future nurses to the healthcare field, inspiring them with both her expertise and her passion.
“I’ve loved nursing; that’s my first love. I love sharing it with others. I love the students; they’re so hungry for information. It’s just a good fit,” Jowett reflected.
After training a generation of the region’s healthcare providers, Jowett will retire in December and bid the Southern Tier farewell. While her retirement is well-deserved, it’s a significant loss to the field, colleagues and former students said.
“She’s special. She’s just a forerunner,” said retired Professor Jennifer Houghtalen, who met Jowett when both were students at what was then called BCC and worked alongside her for a decade.
The two traveled parallel trajectories, becoming nurses and then nurse practitioners, working in the field and then returning to their alma mater to teach. “She has a very thoughtful intelligence about her that I saw since day one of meeting her,” Houghtalen said.
Shaping a profession
A native of the Scranton area, Jowett graduated from SUNY Broome’s Nursing program in 1979. As a Broome student, Jowett was also at the same time the mother of four children, and knows firsthand the struggle of juggling family responsibilities with an academic workload.
Back then, the Nursing program operated out of the now-demolished 901 Front St. rather than the Decker Health Sciences Building, constructed in 1998. The accommodations may have been Spartan in comparison, but the program made it work.
After graduating from Broome, she went on to earn her B.S.N and M.S. from Binghamton University. Jowett became a nurse practitioner, specializing in family practice. She began working part-time as an adjunct instructor in 1993, balancing teaching with her healthcare work. After a decade, she began to teach full-time, dialing back her hours as a nurse practitioner so she could focus on training future healthcare providers.
Originally, she saw a different future for herself in the healthcare world and earned her first master’s degree in Healthcare Administration.
“It turns out that I hated it. What I really appreciated is the patient contact and the clinical area,” said Jowett. “I loved doing home care because of the freedom I had and I could do what I had been trained to do.”
Nursing has changed dramatically through the past several decades, Jowett reflected, and the possibilities for nurses are greater today than ever before. Once considered secondary to doctors, the field has expanded, and nurse practitioners provide primary care and other healthcare to an increasing number of clients.
“Nurses are paid more, have more authority, more confident in their skills. They also see nursing as a continuum,” Jowett reflected. “They start out as a registered nurse and they know they can go anywhere from there. Wherever you go, there’s going to be a nurse.”
Jowett has been repeatedly identified as one of the most effective clinical faculty members in the program by both students and faculty, noted current Nursing Chair Susan Seibold-Simpson.
“She is gentle, yet firm, and holds the students to the highest possible standards,” she said.
SUNY Broome Nursing alumna Aishia Mortenson concurred, remembering the first time she met Jowett in the classroom.
“My first impression: Super intimidated, on my toes, oh no! Then I realized she was all about maintaining standards and helping us learn,” said Mortenson, now the school nurse at Vestal High School. “She’s phenomenal.”
She daily uses the lessons she learned from Jowett and other SUNY Broome professors at her job: Treat people holistically, recognize that you will inevitably have patients who also experience mental health issues and, above all, be adaptable.
“She may have set the bar high, but you walked away learning so much,” Mortenson said.
UHS Senior Vice President Kay Boland, who is also the Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer, saw Jowett’s performance from the other side, as an area employer. Jowett is well-known by UHS nursing staff, many of whom are graduates of the program, Boland send in a letter recommending Jowett for a SUNY Chancellor’s Award in Adjunct Teaching.
She’s educated hundreds of nursing students through the years, many of whom remain in the community to practice.
“As a Clinical Instructor, Linda offers insight, guidance and support to ensure the students are learning and providing patients with safe and competent nursing care. Her care and compassion for students and patients fosters a supportive learning environment in a stressful and complex environment,” Boland wrote in her letter of commendation.
During her years at SUNY Broome, Jowett has seen many graduates achieve success in their chosen field. Some have returned as colleagues, teaching beside her at the college. “I find that so rewarding!” she said.
After retirement, Jowett plans to move to a warmer climate, perhaps in North Carolina. While she acknowledges that she will miss interacting with students, she’s also eager to explore part of herself that has long been on the back burner: her creative side. In addition to being a healthcare professional and a dedicated teacher, she’s an artist, with a particular focus on pottery.
“To throw a pot, you have to be very focused. There’s more to it than just the art – the focus centers you,” she said. “I am anxious to get back to that.”
That focus and centering aren’t just part of Jowett’s artwork, or even her substantial and compassionate career. They’re also a part of who Linda Jowett is as a person.
“Linda has this ability to maintain her center, and those who can see it can use it to center themselves,” Houghtalen said.