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New Faces: Bruce Leonard

An Army and Navy veteran, nursing professor Bruce Leonard lived in many states before moving to Las Vegas. He came to UNLV on the advice of a current nursing professor.

People  |  Oct 15, 2013  |  By UNLV News Center

Along with teaching his students, Associate Professor of Nursing Bruce Leonard is continuing his research into sleep disorders. (Aaron Mayes / UNLV Photo Services)

Bruce Leonard’s parents were both medical professionals, and his passion for working with people eventually led him to a career in nursing. He now teaches young students about community nursing and investigates sleep problems among those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD.


Why UNLV?

I had worked with professor (and Ph.D. coordinator) Michelle Clark on projects about team-based learning. She continually encouraged me to consider UNLV. Her descriptions about the growing research programs, how the university was strengthening its research resources, the excellent library, and many other attributes convinced me to relocate to Nevada.

Where did you grow up?

Mostly in Garrison, N.D.

Biggest challenge in your field?

Enabling nurse practitioners to work. In many states, nurse practitioners have to work directly with a collaborating physician and follow specific protocols when providing patient care. Nevada is one of the few states that offers opportunities for more independent practice as an advanced practice registered nurse.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

My mother was a nurse and my father was a family physician. Nursing offers multiple career opportunities within the many different nursing specialties. And once you are a nurse, you can explore many of those areas. My interest in working with and helping people, coupled with these opportunities, led me to pursue nursing after my discharge from the Army.

What is the proudest moment in your life?

That’s tough to answer. Earning my Ph.D. in nursing is certainly a highlight. As a teacher, seeing the positive changes you make among your students, especially when you witness the moment when they understand what you’re teaching and want to learn more, are always among my prouder moments.

What’s your one tip for success?

Perseverance—just keep trying.

If you could fix one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would fix the nation’s health care system. I would create a system that provides affordable access to health care for everyone. The current [Affordable Care Act] is helpful to some, but there are many who still aren’t covered by health insurance programs. Everyone needs access to affordable, quality health care.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I have studied jujitsu for more than 10 years.

Who is your favorite professor and why?

My favorite professor is Dr. Elizabeth Anderson. She is tremendously passionate about community health and well known for it. She is an excellent professor, and was the reason I pursued my Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch. She has been my mentor for nearly 15 years.

What can't you work without?

After my time in the Army and Navy, I can usually make the best of whatever is available. There really isn’t anything I can’t work without. However, not having access to computer files and the Internet does make getting work done difficult.

—compiled by Kevin Dunegan, communications specialist for the schools of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences