Vivian Pohlman, associate professor emeritus at the School of Nursing who directed the school's baccalaureate program in nursing from 1983 until her retirement in 1994, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 24. She was 79.
"Vivian was always concerned about the welfare of undergraduate nursing students," said Andrew Mills, Ph.D., director of the Ph.D. program at the School of Nursing and a colleague of Pohlman's. "She was always pleasant and could find humor in even the most difficult situations."
A mentor to many undergraduates, Pohlman joined Saint Louis University as a nursing instructor in 1971. She was known as a tough professor who helped students clarify career and life goals and relished celebrating their achievements with them.
"We hold great respect for Ms. Pohlman," wrote Heidi K. Rudolph, 1986 president of the Undergraduate School of Nursing Coalition, in an award nomination letter.
"The values and beliefs that are evident in her lifestyle make her an excellent role model for us. She has a reputation for honesty, integrity, genuine concern for individuals and a great sense of humor. Her door is always open; her office more often than not full of students...She is a legend at the School of Nursing."
Pohlman was assistant director for the undergraduate nursing program when Teri Murray, Ph.D., dean of the nursing school, received her bachelor's degree from SLU School of Nursing.
"She touched the lives of so many students and always was willing to discuss our concerns, even those not related to school. She challenged us to develop to our fullest potential - as professionals and as people," Murray said.
Prior to joining Saint Louis University, Pohlman worked as a nurse at Barnes Hospital, St. Louis City Hospital, DePaul Hospital and Firmin Desloge Hospital (which now is Saint Louis University Hospital).
In the late 1960s, long before electronic health records were on the horizon, she was a programmer and systems analyst for hospital information systems operated by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Peoria.
Pohlman retired with the rank of colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves, serving in the military as a nurse on a flying hospital - a jet that evacuated soldiers, veterans and their families to medical facilities across the country. In addition to monthly missions, she was a flight nurse instructor and examiner, teaching other military flight nurses how to care for and transport patients at high altitudes when no physician was available.
In her spare time, she loved playing golf and was a dedicated fan of the singer Engelbert Humperdinck.
Pohlman received her master's and bachelor's nursing degrees from Saint Louis University and her diploma in nursing from St. Louis City Hospital. She was selected for honorary membership in Alpha Sigma, the Jesuit Honor Society, in 1987 and received the Outstanding Reserve Nurse Award by the 14th Air Force Reserve in 1982. One of eight children, she is survived by a brother and a sister.
Visitation for Pohlman will be from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, at St. Francis Xavier College Church, immediately followed by a memorial Mass. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Vivian Pohlman to the School of Nursing Annual Fund, Saint Louis University DuBourg Hall 319, 221 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103.