Lora Duncan

Lora Duncan will continue to make a difference in hospice care after she leaves Iowa State with her BSN. When she isn't studying, Lora enjoys quilting and reading.

ISU alumna Lora Duncan returns home to earn her bachelor of science in nursing

Lifelong Cyclone fan Lora Duncan spent years in another industry before she realized she had a passion for another profession — nursing and caretaking. She has returned to Iowa State University to make her dream of earning her bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) come true. 

Lora graduated from Iowa State in 1994 with a degree in food science and technology. She spent over a decade applying her expertise to food research and development — but the trip to the hospital that brought Lora her son also opened her eyes to a new career path. She began nursing school in 2001 after admiring the work of the nurses that helped her during delivery.

“I realized I needed something more,” she said. “[When I began nursing], I just knew that I fit. When you find that right fit, that right major, everything is smooth and easy.”

Right from the start of her nursing education, Lora knew that her end goal was earning her BSN. She immediately began taking classes with credits that would transfer to her BSN degree. After becoming a registered nurse (RN), she worked in long term care for 15 years before trying something new by working in hospice care.

Once she heard that Iowa State began offering a BSN program for RNs, she saw it was the perfect opportunity for her to achieve her goal.

“The first day of classes, I was like, ‘I’m home again!’” Lora said.

Lora’s favorite part of Iowa State’s BSN major is the emphasis on holistic patient treatment, and how passionate the faculty is about caring for patients and students. Learning to assess a patient’s big-picture situation along with their medical needs has been immensely helpful as she continues her work in hospice care.

“You have to look at the whole person, their family, and their support system to really treat them in the best way that you can. A big philosophy of hospice is treating the person as a whole,” she said.

Balancing her full-time job with schoolwork has been difficult, but Lora’s professors and family have made going back to school fun and exciting. She has even gotten to see her son on campus and watch him practice with the ISU marching band.

After she graduates in May, Lora plans on utilizing the skills she’s attained through her nursing studies at Iowa State to make even more of an impact in hospice care.

“I’m staying with hospice because that’s where my heart is,” Lora said. “Taking care of that population is my happy place.”