An Interview With Bill Lonneman, Director of Nursing

Bill Lonneman, an Associate Professor and the Academic Director of the Nursing program at Western Washington University, is retiring in September. Bill has been here for seven years and has been teaching courses in Social Justice and Healthcare, Health Policy and Leadership, and Community and Population Health. Dr. Lonneman has a doctoral degree in Nursing Practice from Madonna University in Detroit. He worked as a nurse practitioner and taught for 11 years in Cincinnati before joining the faculty at Western Washington University. 


In Spring 2023, Dr. Lonneman will be teaching an Introduction to Bioethics course in the university’s Honors Program. The course will focus on applying ethics to healthcare situations, including decisions at the bedside, end-of-life decisions, and the use of technology in healthcare. Dr. Lonneman started as the Academic Director for the nursing program in 2019 and one of his biggest accomplishments was getting funding from the state legislature in 2022 for reduced tuition for the RN-to-BSN nursing students and a funding package to begin a new master's program in nursing. 


With the state funding, Dr. Lonneman has been able to begin hiring additional staff to bolster the nursing program. Devyn Nixon, who started in 2021, has been working as the Program Advisor and Rika Winquist has come on as the new, full-time Program Coordinator.  While the planning for the new master’s degree is still in progress, it will include two tracks, one in nursing leadership and administration and the other in nursing education.  They are working with the state Department of Health to set up partnerships in rural areas, especially the San Juan islands and the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. Dr. Lonneman hopes to eventually expand the program to include a doctoral degree for nurse practitioners, specifically in psychiatric or primary care. The program aims to equip nurses to serve in advanced practice roles that will address gaps in healthcare, particularly in critical access areas and with tribal communities.   


Western Washington University's RN-to-BSN program offers a unique cohort model that is hybrid and flexible enough for students to attend while still offering face-to-face support. The university has a robust partnership with PeaceHealth, which provides scholarships and financial support to nursing students. Students enrolled in the nursing program who are also in their nurse residency at PeaceHealth or Skagit Valley Hospitals complete an evidence-based practice project which serves both academic and clinical educational needs. 


Dr. Lonneman notes that the program has faced huge challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With nurses under such incredible stress, student enrollment dropped from its usual 25-30 nursing students each year to about 16-20 per year.  He says that wholistic support for the students has taken on new importance.  He expects that enrollment will grow as nursing recovers from the pandemic. 


Dr. Lonneman's next steps include completing a bioethics certificate from Loyola University and continuing his service on ethics committees (currently at Peace Health and then at the University of Cincinnati when he returns to his home there).   

Please reach out to Bill at and join us in our gratitude for his years of service to our nursing program before he retires!