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New Faces: Catherine Dingley

Like so many students, Catherine Dingley began college without a major. After speaking with numerous nursing students, she knew she had found a fit — a career that was people-focused and would let her contribute to the community.

People  |  Sep 28, 2015  |  By Kevin Dunegan
Catherine Dingley

(Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

For Catherine Dingley, wanting to join the faculty at UNLV’s School of Nursing was an easy decision — the university’s drive to become a Top Tier institution appealed to her role as a researcher, and the strong reputation of the school’s dean appealed to her profession as a nurse educator.


Having just completed a research fellowship in cancer, aging, and end-of-life care, I wanted a university setting that would foster my interest in research, and knowing UNLV is moving toward Top Tier status made the decision to apply easy. I also knew about the School of Nursing — the innovative and progressive educational environment, the excellent faculty and leadership team, and the focus on bio-behavioral research and management of chronic illness. In addition, Dean Carolyn Yucha has a solid reputation, coupled with a progressive, mover-and-shaker vibe. All of this made joining the nursing faculty exciting.

What inspired you to get into your field?

When I began taking more science courses during my early years of college, I started meeting more and more nursing students. Listening to them, I realized that nursing could be a way to fulfill my desire to make a meaningful contribution and have a career that was people-focused. I wanted to be a productive contributor to society. What better way to accomplish that than care for those in need?

What’s the biggest misconception about your field?

That (nursing) is a task-oriented profession. Many people see our actions and the tasks we perform, but not the knowledge and skills we use to complete them. Nursing requires critical thinking, clinical judgment, assessment, and an ability to prepare a continuous regimen of care. We use these skills and knowledge to care for individuals and families, and coordinate their care with other health and wellness professionals.

What’s the biggest challenge in your field?

One of the biggest is to continue to provide that caring and personal approach in our current health care system, which seems to be getting more and more complex and technologically focused. While technology has provided so many improvements, it also brings a level of complexity that can draw attention away from the importance of providing that caring, human touch. We also face ongoing regulatory requirements that cause us to focus heavily on documentation.

Who was your favorite professor and why?

Two professors come to mind. First, Kathy Magilvy. She was director of the Ph.D. program and my advisor at the University of Colorado during my doctoral studies. Professor Magilvy was positive, encouraging, patient, and always sought something good to focus upon. She recognized our expertise as experienced nurses and treated us respectfully — and was a wonderful mentor and coach. The second is Mardie Clayton, who was my research mentor and advisor during my fellowship. She provided a true role model of interdisciplinary research as her work in cancer survivorship bridges nursing, health communication, psychology, and immunology. 

One tip for success?

My tip is to be diligent, persistent, and determined. If you fall down, keep getting up. There will always be barriers, but you can prevent them from becoming roadblocks. Be sure your goals are realistic and then don’t give up on achieving them.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in multiple places because my dad was in the Army. I was born in Okinawa, Japan, and have lived in California, Hawaii, Texas, Washington, Florida, and Scotland.

Proudest moment in your life?

I have many proud moments, including graduations, both mine and my children’s, my children’s weddings, and seeing them raise children of their own.

What can’t you work without?

My computer and coffee.

Who is your hero?

My hero is my father. He worked hard for everything and served honorably during his career in the military. He loved all of us unconditionally, and was generous with his time, care, and love. And when he was later diagnosed with lung cancer, he faced it bravely and lived with dignity.

Pastimes or hobbies?

My hobbies usually include spending time with my family, whether my husband and I are learning ballroom dancing or the family is traveling together. I also enjoy interior decorating, writing, and outdoor activities