Dr. Janice Sanders.
Dr. Janice Sanders.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we’d like to profile the wonderful faculty and alumni within our School of Nursing, starting with Dr. Janice Sanders, assistant professor in the School of Nursing and alumna (’04 and ’14). An excerpt of her story is featured in the spring 2015 edition of Fresno State Magazine.

As a former U.S. Navy Nurse, Dr. Janice Sanders has been all over the world, but nothing quite compares to where she grew up – Sumter, South Carolina. After all, this is where her memories with her 10 siblings are built and this is where she discovered her love of nursing.

When Sanders was 10, she recalls a moment that forever triggered her desire to one day become a nurse and be in the service of helping others. Her beloved grandmother, who was diabetic, had suffered a stroke and needed home care assistance. Every day she would watch as her older sister, Jacqueline, who would eventually become a nurse as well, inject insulin shots for her grandmother as their mother stood nearby, ready to provide the remaining around-the-clock care.

“Just watching my mother care for my grandmother and many others is a trait she passed on to her kids,” says Sanders. “She always encouraged me to take care of others who needed help. She was my inspiration.”

This led to her attending Clemson University in South Carolina, where she obtained her bachelor of science in nursing in 1988.

Someone else who would play an influential role in her career was her father, a Korean War Veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He passed away from a car accident when she was just five-years-old, but his legacy of service would live on in six of his children, each of whom would enlist in various branches of the military, including Sanders.

After receiving her bachelor’s, Sanders felt a strong desire to do something different with her nursing career. She took a leap of faith and enlisted in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, where she remained on active duty from 1989 to 1999. Her service took her as far as Japan and then to the Central Valley – where she was stationed at Naval Air Station in Lemoore, along with her husband Eric, was also in the Navy. Together, they raised their now 23-year-old twins, Sarah and Kirby. Seven-year-old old Addison would soon follow.

Sanders says her among her most memorable times in the Navy was as a reservist during a humanitarian mission called Pacific Partnership 2010.

“It was awesome to collaborate with other health professionals from different military services as well as professionals from several nations and volunteer groups. Despite, diverse cultures, language barriers, and different organizational structures, participants came together for the common goal of serving others.”

Sanders1 - CopyDuring her 12 years in the reserves, Sanders enrolled at Fresno State and received her Master of Science in Nursing in 2004. Ten years later, she returned to her alma mater and received her Doctoral in Nursing Practice degree in the spring of 2014. She was part of the very first class to graduate from the DNP program.

Sanders is also the first in her line of siblings to receive a doctoral degree – an accomplishment she is most proud of.

However, Sanders did not stop there. Just a few months after graduating with her DNP, she would make the transition from student to teacher, becoming an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, where she now specializes in psychosocial and mental health.

“I thought the best way to influence nursing was to go into education,” says Sanders. “I wanted to take a different direction in my nursing career and share my experiences with my students and hopefully influence their decision making into what kind of nurse they’d like to be one day.”

From humble roots in the military to pursuing her passion as an educator, it’s clear that Sanders was destined for a life of service.


You can read Fresno State Magazine in its entirety at the LINK.