Daughertys retire after spending eight decades in health care

July 23, 2012

Bernice and Len Daugherty have retired as members of the Lander University faculty.
Bernice and Len Daugherty of Greenwood have each spent more than 40 years in health care, she in nursing and he in health care management, and they shared their professional experiences with students as members of the Lander University faculty. The couple decided to retire this summer and plan to devote their time to more leisurely pursuits.

The Daughertys met during a church youth group event in Norfolk while she was in high school and he was in the Navy. They married after he was discharged and settled in Arizona, which was his home.

She received a bachelor's degree in nursing from Arizona State University and a master's with a concentration in community health nursing from the University of Kansas.

The Daugherty's moved to Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick in 1996 after she completed her education as a family nurse practitioner at Valparaiso University in Indiana. That same year, she joined the faculty of Lander's William Preston Turner Department of Nursing.

The Virginia native's first experience in teaching came while she was working as a medical-surgical nurse at a hospital in Norfolk, Va. She returned to clinical nursing but was drawn back to teaching. "I always knew teaching was a calling. It was where the Lord wanted me to be."

During her career, she also worked for the Department of Health and Environmental Control as a family nurse practitioner at the McCormick Health Department.

In 2008, she was appointed chair of Lander's nursing department, a position she held until just prior to her retirement. She was an associate professor and taught classes on campus and in Lander's online program qualifying registered nurses to receive four-year nursing degrees.

Daugherty said she has seen many changes in the nursing curriculum enabling students to become excellent nurses. She noted that the passing rate of Lander nursing graduates taking the national licensing examination is consistently higher than the state and national rates.

She recounts having been a hospital patient in the care of a Lander graduate.  She said, "It made me feel very comfortable knowing my nurse was one of our graduates."

Daugherty has won recognition as both a student and an educator. A member of Sigma Theta Tau, nursing's international honor society, she has received the local Mu Zeta Chapter award of excellence in nursing practice and the South Carolina Palmetto Gold award of excellence.

She received a surprise at the annual Nursing Recognition ceremony in April when it was announced that the graduating class had established a scholarship in her honor. The Bernice Daugherty Scholarship will be awarded to senior nursing students who meet established academic criteria and take part in nursing department and volunteer activities.

Len Daugherty graduated from Arizona State University with a management degree and received a master's in health care administration from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University.

He began his health care career at Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va., and over the years, he has held several senior management positions.

In 1995, he was hired as an independent consultant to Self Regional Healthcare and, two years later, he was appointed vice president of Support Services for Self, a position he held for five years.

In 2011, he became an adjunct faculty member in the health care management program in Lander's College of Business and Public Affairs. Among the courses he taught were introduction to the U.S. healthcare system and healthcare finance. He also held teaching positions at Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College, in Virginia.

Daugherty said, as a teacher, he was able to use the health care management concepts his students read about in textbooks and relate them to real-life situations that he had experienced. "Students were able to absorb things from my experience and discovered that the nation's health care system is not what they thought it might be."

The Daughertys' plans for retirement include traveling as much as possible. When they are not on the road, they will take advantage of volunteer opportunities in the community and at McCormick First Baptist Church, where she sings in the choir and he teaches Sunday school.

They are the parents of two daughters and have a granddaughter and two grandsons.