Mentoring Profile: Lola Coke, PhD, College of Nursing

The Rush Women Mentoring Program fosters professional development and a sense of community and collaboration among women faculty at Rush University. In this series, we highlight program mentors and mentees and learn more about how mentoring has impacted them.

Lola Coke, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Adult Health and Gerontological Nursing, College of Nursing, joined Rush in 2001.

Tell us about your background.

I have 40 years of experience as a cardiovascular nurse, cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist and an educator. I have several publications in the field of cardiovascular nursing and research and have presented my research at national and international meetings. I have served on several AHA/ACC writing groups for exercise testing and referral in cardiac rehabilitation. I am also a fellow of the American Heart Association, and I serve on the board of directors of the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing. I am a fellow and member of the board of directors of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurse’s Association, having served as treasurer and president.

I am certified in motivational interviewing and have presented and conducted workshops on this communication technique and lifestyle behavior change at national and international meetings. I have also written about its use in patients with pre-diabetes. I have trained all levels of health care provider and most recently have been serving as a content expert, trainer and evaluator of care coordinators in federally qualified health centers and on three funded grants. I have also conducted research with women who have cardiovascular disease to reduce their risk factors, promote lifestyle change and improve their quality of life and physical functioning in cardiac rehabilitation. I have also developed “healthy heart” programs for underserved women and have conducted home-based physical activity research with caregivers of loved ones with dementia.

What inspired you to get into your field?

I always wanted to be a nurse, even as a young girl. I sought opportunities in health care throughout my life, and I have never doubted my choice for a minute!

What excited you about your work at Rush?

I completed my PhD here, and I love the dynamic and challenging environment that the College of Nursing provides. My colleagues challenge me to do better and always shake up the status quo. They taught me to be an advocate and to always be the best I can be.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship?

To be a mentor means that you guide and advise an individual to be the best they can be in nursing. As a mentee, I learned the value of having wise colleagues around me to help when I needed guidance. As a mentor, I try to guide my mentees rather than telling them what to do. I want them to develop their own ability to think critically and solve problems.

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Nursing is a great field in which you can explore many roles. You can teach, conduct research, and practice at the bedside and provider level. I think the main tip is that, to be a nurse, you need to be both passionate and compassionate about caring for the whole person.

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy quilting, sewing, gourmet cooking and gardening.