Kimberly Curry-Lourenco strives to remain on the forefront of simulation education
There’s a saying in education that we are preparing students for a future we cannot see. For Kimberly Curry-Lourenco, Ph.D., M.Ed., RN, CHSE, that future is clear.
Curry-Lourenco, who joined the VCU School of Nursing as director of the Clinical Learning Center in October 2017, is responsible for overseeing the center and leading new initiatives to ensure the School of Nursing is a national leader in simulation. More recently, she was also appointed assistant dean of academic affairs.
“My goal for both of my roles is to work alongside faculty and staff to create the future of nursing by what we do every day,” said Curry-Lourenco. “Our work today is really about tomorrow. From our academic programs, to the learning experiences we offer our students, partnerships we cultivate, and our own development as educators, scholars, and clinicians, I want VCU SON to lead the way. “
Curry-Lourenco’s development as a nurse started at home while she was young. She had a role model right in front of her – her older sister was a nurse and served in the military.
“I remember seeing her in the uniform, hearing of her experiences, and although I don’t recall deliberately choosing, I seemed to have followed her path,” said the San Diego native who lived most of her life in Virginia Beach. “All of my grandfather’s sisters were nurses. Although I never had the chance to meet them, maybe it runs in the family!”
Curry-Lourenco started her nursing career as a staff nurse at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital’s Coronary Care Unit after earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Old Dominion University. Within six months, the self-described introvert became an evening shift charge nurse.
“I used to be very shy and quiet,” Curry-Lourenco said, “but nursing has a wonderful way of helping you find your voice.”
After two years she went back to school to earn a master’s degree in nursing, also from ODU, and then rotated between the Coronary Care, General Intensive Care and Post Anesthesia Care units at Sentara. Her next move was to join the U.S. Naval Reserve Nurse Corp, where she served nine years while working full time in Sentara’s Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care Unit. A tip from a colleague about an adjunct position at ODU led Curry-Lourenco to enter the higher education arena in 2000. Since then she has worked in teaching and leadership roles at both undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on curriculum and instruction, advancing simulation, program evaluation, and faculty development. Curry-Lourenco, who also earned a master’s degree in education from ODU and a Ph.D. in nursing from Duquesne University, was coordinator of instruction and technology and professor at Tidewater Community College’s Beazley School of Nursing before joining VCU.
“The foundation is solid, and the potential is unlimited,” she said, reflecting on what drew her to VCU. “I wanted to be a part of where the SON is heading.”
Already, Curry-Lourenco has made progress with an initiative she inherited – model the CLC as a service center for use by outside individuals and organizations for a fee. The CLC team moved the service model from concept to implementation during the 2018-2019 academic year.
“We have been able to actualize initial goals through offering locally and statewide-promoted professional development workshops,” Curry-Lourenco said. “The CLC service center holds great promise as a future hub of learning and collaboration within and beyond the SON.”
She is also working on a project with a team of faculty and staff that explores clinical decision making and situation awareness in simulation with undergraduate students.
Debra Barksdale, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Nursing Alumni Endowed Professor and associate dean of academic affairs, said Curry-Lourenco has worked with faculty and students to create efficient, effective and quality clinical learning experiences.
“She has been a tremendous asset to the school of nursing,” Barksdale said. “Kim is a big picture thinker who also ‘has the grit and tenacity’ to ensure the best day-to-day operation in the center while enhancing our simulation education.”
As part of her efforts to be on the forefront of simulation protocols and best practices, Curry-Lourenco is active in several professional organizations at the state and national levels. Two key ones include membership on the Regulatory Initiatives Committee of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning, and on the Board of Directors of the Virginia State Simulation Alliance, Inc. She also serves on the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses Academic Task Force.
In her spare time, Curry-Lourenco enjoys anything by the water, as well as exploring new areas with her husband, 23-year-old son, 19-year-old daughter and three dogs who “are every bit part of our family.”
“One of our dogs loves a road trip, so anytime we can get ‘lost’ wandering with him, is a good day,” she said.
Looking ahead, Curry-Lourenco is excited about the evolution of clinical education. The knowledge and skills required of nurses are rapidly expanding beyond individual patient care, she explains, to include management of diverse populations – from wellness through end of life.
“Opportunities to develop deep understanding, and elevate decision making skills will be key,” she said. “I believe we can expect to see more clinical education models that combine various strategies and settings such as increasing use of simulation, telehealth technology, team-based learning, and focused clinical experiences in areas such as primary care and population health.”