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Barbara H. Long

Dr. Barbara H. Long
Assistant Professor and Chair
Health and Human Sciences
Director of Athletic Training

Students looking for shortcuts aren’t going to find them with Dr. Barbara H. Long, the 2012 recipient of the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award. That might bring a groan or two from students looking for an abbreviated route through her classes, but for Long, to operate any other way would be to abrogate her responsibility as a teacher and render a disservice to her students.

“I want students to feel I care about them and to know that I am role modeling a ‘real’ person who has successes and struggles just as they do,” said Long. “Because of that caring, I don’t let students take shortcuts or just get by in their work. In my discipline, I am preparing them to become healthcare professionals and, to that end, there are no shortcuts that won’t come back to derail their professional success or even the health of their patients. I try to compassionately hold the students accountable for behavior, effort and output.”

Long, who has worked at Bridgewater since 1999, said her “uncomfortably introverted” nature made teaching not part of her initial career plans. Getting in front of a group of people, she says, took a lot of internal energy for her.

“When I started working for Rockingham Memorial Hospital in 1990, I was forced by my boss to travel around the community and give talks on various health-related topics,” she said. “I was absolutely abysmal at first, but my boss didn’t give up on me. Eventually, I got better at presenting information. Once I became fairly comfortable as a healthcare professional, I realized that good patient care wasn’t just about my diagnostic and treatment skills but rather my ability to educate and motivate my patients.”

Those early professional days laid the groundwork for her teaching career, and Long said she became a teacher because she wanted a professional challenge that exceeded her one-on-one work with patients. She got that challenge in teaching, but noted that it was the skills she learned in those years of direct patient care that dictated how she works with students.

In addition to teaching, Long chairs the largest department at Bridgewater and is charged with managing five majors, four minors, more than 400 students and 23 faculty. She is also director of the integrated Athletic Training Program.