When deciding on a career path, Louann Brechbill Zinsmeister, PhD, RN, CNE, desired a profession that provided career opportunities and allowed her to serve others. The first time she stepped onto a clinical unit as a student nurse, she realized a career in nursing was a perfect fit for her. After receiving a diploma in nursing from the Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dr. Zinsmeister worked as a staff nurse in both critical care and the operating room for several years.
During her first years of working as a registered nurse, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania, and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Delaware in Newark. 20 years after completing her master’s program, Dr. Zinsmeister earned a PhD from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Zinsmeister began her career as a nurse educator at St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Lancaster in 1984. In 1994, she became a nursing faculty member at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where she continues to serve both undergraduate and graduate nursing students as a professor of nursing and director/coordinator of the graduate nursing program. Dr. Zinsmeister also has taught as an adjunct professor for RN-BSN students at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. In addition to her role as a nursing professor and administrator, she has served as a curriculum design and research consultant. Dr. Zinsmeister is a certified nurse educator, holds a certificate in church music from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, and is a reviewer for the International Journal of Nursing Studies.
In addition to her responsibilities as a nurse educator and administrator, Dr. Zinsmeister has served as a church organist since 1987, and also served for 20 years as the director of the children’s choir at her church. She keeps active in her community through affiliations with organizations including the American Nurses’ Association, the Pennsylvania State Nurses’ Association, the National League for Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau International. In honor of her accomplishments, Dr. Zinsmeister received an Excellence in Nursing Education Award from the Lambda Kappa chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International in 2015. Furthermore, she was awarded the Mary Danner Edgar Award and Florence Nightingale Award by Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing, and was selected for inclusion in the fourth edition of Who’s Who in American Nursing.
Dr. Zinsmeister would like to be remembered as someone who cares deeply for her students and, therefore, demands excellence from them in both classroom and clinical practice settings. She attributes her passion and love for the nursing profession to nurse leaders who influenced her early in her nursing profession journey. Specifically, she was influenced by Margaret McClure, a former chief nurse officer and internationally-known nurse leader. During Dr. Zinsmeister’s junior year of nursing school in 1978, she attended the National Student Nurses’ Association National Convention in St. Louis. Dr. McClure delivered the keynote address at this convention, and presented the future trends for nursing practice and nursing education. Dr. McClure’s words inspired Dr. Zinsmeister to continue her education to attain three nursing degrees, and make it a career goal to be an advocate for the profession of nursing. Dr. Zinsmeister chose to become a nurse educator so that she could share her passion and clinical expertise with the next generation of nurses.
Since the beginning of her career, Dr. Zinsmeister has taught over 1,600 undergraduate and graduate nursing students. She believes the success and accomplishments of the nursing students that she has helped to educate over the years have provided her with great fulfillment. Dr. Zinsmeister also believes that her students’ contributions to positive patient outcomes will serve as her greatest legacy.