Lost and Found: In memory of Lena Sorensen, PhD, RN

Aug 30, 2012

Lena Sorenson

Just two weeks ago, we learned that Dr. Lena Sorensen our colleague, faculty member, teacher, and friend passed away after a very brief illness. We were sad to lose this Institute leader, but relieved to know that her suffering was not lengthy and that she was with her long time partner, Alice Friedman. Expressions of disbelief, grief, and loss have been intermingled with interesting and uplifting stories of Lena’s talents, her passion for her work and her students, and her commitment to connecting patients and providers via technology. Lena had an interesting career, serving several different academic institutions and clinical settings. She was an early adopter of technology advances and pushed to make connections happen that could benefit patients and providers, especially nurses. At the Institute, Lena taught courses in informatics and research, supervised many student projects, and expressed constant delight at her work with her close colleagues in the DNP program, CIPSI, and the School of Nursing. I had the opportunity to work closely with Lena while she served as Chair-Elect and Chair of the Faculty. She worked to bring attention to collaboration around governance, to launch and support a new faculty rank and promotion system, and to include the faculty in important decisions and actions. Lena was also connected with many colleagues in the community. I won’t pretend to know them all but I know that her collaborations with Jeanette Ives-Erickson and Patient Care Services at Mass General and her work with the Center for Connected Health were central to her personal and professional mission. One of her great “moments” of the recent past was when she was invited by Joe Ternullo of the Center for Connected Health to introduce the Prince of Denmark at last year’s Connected Health Symposium! She laughed so much describing all of the ways that the CCH team tried to handle her comments and to reduce the probability that Lena’s natural spontaneity might cause any diplomatic problems! They should have known that Lena’s spontaneity was far from controllable.

A few years ago, Lena initiated a new way to simulate clinical interactions and education via the virtual world of “Second Life.” Lena and her students struggled through various iterations of the IHP “island”, discovering ways to make their avatar real (or at least have normal clothing), and to explore in a very safe manner some of the complex interactions that occur between patients and providers. Lena was so proud of her “second life” world and the way that her students grumbled at the beginning of the term about having to use this new cumbersome technology and subsequently celebrated their accomplishments at the end of the term. This is the classic continuum of learning-discovery, frustration, deeper exploration, mastery, confidence, competence. Lena celebrated this continuum and I will remember her for these contributions and many more. I think it is somewhat symbolic that her work will live on in something aptly named “Second Life.” I think that you will join me in “finding” Lena there in the virtual world that she helped design.

The IHP community will gather for a memorial tribute to Lena on September 27 at 5 pm in the beautiful student lounge in 2 Constitution Center. I hope that the whole IHP community-staff, faculty, students-will join us in honoring Lena at that time.






SEPTEMBER 27, 2012

5 PM





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