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A Decade of Inspiration and Impact: Patrick Hopkins Steps Down as APNN Co-Director

  By Robin Flanigan
  Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Patrick Hopkins stands next to a brick wall in the School of Nursing courtyard, wearing a read sweater and white plaid shirt underneath.Patrick Hopkins, DNP, APRN, C-PNP, NNP has been reflective since stepping down recently, after a decade as co-director of the University of Rochester School of Nursing’s Accelerated Program for Non-Nurses.

“It isn’t always an easy role — there have often been very difficult decisions to make, and that has been challenging,” he said. “But hearing how students go on to be successful spreading the philosophy we have here across the nation, and sometimes around the globe, has been inspirational for me. We can leave the world in a better place.”

Hopkins remains in his position as associate professor of clinical nursing, though now works part time teaching pathopharmacology, and continues both to review applicants for the program and serve as a mentor
and confidant. As a former student and current colleague, Andrew Udkovich, MS, PPCNP-BC, has found Hopkins’ open-door policy to be like none other.

“Whether you have a problem with the curriculum or something stressful in your personal life, he encourages you to talk with him — and that’s rare, especially in an academic setting,” explained Udkovich, instructor of clinical nursing. That door leads to a serene, dimly lit office, a place that has been playfully dubbed “dangerous” by students who find themselves opening up about both academic and personal challenges more than they expected to when entering.

“It’s about being grounded, and being present, and actually listening,” Hopkins said of his philosophy. “Teaching is all about building relationships.”

Hopkins equates that philosophy to being a parent. Instead of acting like a carpenter, in which he would measure everything twice to ensure precision, he is more like a gardener when it comes to nurturing students.


 “You throw out some seeds, water them, give them fertilizer to survive,” Hopkins said. “You don’t know which ones will thrive, but at the end you have a beautiful garden because they grow into who they need to be, not what you’re pushing them into.”


Some of that fertilizer comes in a shiny wrapper. Hopkins tells students on the first day of orientation that he always has Dove chocolates on hand if they need a snack break. (“And I say, ‘If I really like you, it will be Cadbury chocolate that I bring back from England.’”)

Patrick Hopkins, in a blue nursing uniform, working in Strong's neonatal intensive care unit.

Ma. Melita Hebert, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-C attended the Accelerated Nursing Program in 2015 and often sought
career advice from Hopkins.

“Always soft spoken, calm, and clear, he knows when to provide positive support when students are struggling,” she said. “He always makes things interesting with his anecdotes and dry sense of humor.”

The accent Hopkins brought from his hometown of Sheffield, a steel town in northern England, doesn’t hurt. He noted: “People have said to me, ‘You could tell me to go to hell and I’d still say thank you.’”

Over the years Hopkins has seen the biggest changes in nursing take place in the neonatal unit. With family-centered, developmentally supportive care, premature newborns not only are surviving more often, but thriving better than ever.

One thing that has remained the same is that the smallest of human interactions make nurses in all specialties invaluable. He said, “A kind word, a touch on the shoulder, a back rub can do more for a person who is suffering than some of the most expensive medication’s we have. We never know what effect we’re going to have another human being by our presence.”

Now that Hopkins will be working fewer hours, he hopes to make it back to England more frequently, given that one of his two daughters, four younger brothers, and 13 nieces and nephews live there.

“This role has taken up a lot of my time,” he added. “I also need to paint the garage, get the hardwood floors redone, and do something with the garden.”

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