UNCG Campus Weekly

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Lynn Kendrick Erdman to receive the 2015 School of Nursing Distinguished Alumna Award

Portrait photo of Lynn Kendrick ErdmanNational nurse leader Lynn Kendrick Erdman BSN ’77 will be recognized as the 2015 Distinguished Alumna at the Alumni Association Annual Meeting to be held on Oct.17 during UNCG Homecoming weekend.

A career that has taken Erdman from bedside nurse to the executive ranks of several major health organizations reached another milestone in January 2014. That’s when she was named CEO of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) in Washington, D.C.

It’s the newest challenging role for Erdman, who started out in North Carolina as a neonatal intensive care nurse, served as founding director of the Presbyterian Cancer Cancer in Charlotte and later held senior positions with the American Cancer Society, American College of Surgeons and Susan G. Komen Global Headquarters.

She can pinpoint the moment her leadership journey in healthcare began in earnest: It was when she met UNCG School of Nursing Dean Eloise Lewis as a sophomore in college.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is a woman who has it together!’” Erdman says. “She was an amazing nursing leader who earned respect, and she’s the reason I ended up at UNCG. It was a great choice because my experience at UNCG was probably as diverse as my career has been.”

With clinical training that exposed her to nursing in rural, community and hospital settings, Erdman says she learned a great deal more than just the science of nursing. She was also schooled in the art of understanding patients and their personal and emotional needs.

She recalls visiting a farmer during her student days to assess his health. He was a bit standoffish at first but he began to warm to her. During a follow-up visit, he said he’d fixed a meal for her. Erdman followed him to the kitchen to find that he’d prepared a delicacy – cow’s tongue.

“I couldn’t believe I was eating this!” says Erdman, who grew up a city dweller in Charlotte. “But it was one of those early lessons in figuring out how to get close to patients even when they’re from a background that I’m not familiar with. There’s always a story behind every person, and you’re a more effective nurse when you know it.”

Erdman later earned her MSN at the University of South Carolina and steeped herself in a wide array of nursing roles, from labor and delivery to oncology and hospice care, before embarking on a career in healthcare administration. Though she has filled executive and board roles for numerous national organizations, she maintains close ties to North Carolina. In 2013, she and her husband, David Erdman, endowed the Lynn Kendrick Erdman Scholarship Fund in Nursing at UNCG.

She recently finished a four-year term as chair of the N.C. Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control and has served as consulting faculty for Duke University’s Graduate School of Nursing since 1994. She still spends weekends in Charlotte with her husband, commuting to Washington D.C., each week.

She relishes the opportunity to focus once again on nurses and their patients in her new role at AWHONN.

“Caring for women and infants and advocating for their health and well-being has been the foundation of my professional career,” Erdman says. “It’s a great privilege to represent AWHONN’s 25,000 nurses.”

Report courtesy School of Nursing.