How Elisa Giglio-Siudzinski Helped Shape Nursing Education While Leaving a Lasting Legacy at Carrington College Reno

Elisa Giglio-Siudzinski

At Carrington College, we believe our talented faculty members are the heart and soul of our institution. So in honor of all their hard work, we have decided to share some thoughts from one of our best as she prepares for retirement.

Elisa Giglio-Siudzinski, Assistant Dean of Nursing at the Carrington College campus in Reno, Nevada, has a successful career spanning more than four decades. Elisa brings a wealth of experience and passion to her role, shaping the future of nursing education. From her humble beginnings as a bedside nurse to her current leadership position, Elisa’s journey is a testament to dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment to the nursing profession. Join us as we delve into her remarkable career, achievements, and the legacy she leaves behind at Carrington College.

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your role at Carrington College?

I started at Carrington College back in February of 2010. At the time I was working as a staff development (i.e. clinical) educator in the Cardiac Intensive Care/Cardiac Surgery Unit at Renown. I was in the process of completing my master’s degree in nursing with the intent of eventually going into academia. Nursing Education was something I was always interested in. I previously was an educator in Respiratory Therapy at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York which was really the beginning of my love for education.

Throughout my career, I was always drawn to education in one form or another. It is very gratifying to help someone understand a concept or perform a skill and see them attain success professionally. Before my role of clinical educator, I functioned as a Nursing Manager in Nursing Operations, a distinctly administrative role. However, that role helped me attain the experience needed to be successful as an Assistant Dean later on as I influenced clinical policy and the use of educational technology.

What were some of your responsibilities?

My first year with Carrington College I was a Clinical Nursing Instructor. At the time, the nursing program was young, and the cohorts were heading towards program completion. We did not have a graduating cohort yet. I supervised clinicals in the med/surg areas, as my clinical expertise was critical care/emergency as well as Respiratory therapy. After that first year, I was offered a full-time teaching position at Carrington, which I accepted, and I then taught in the classroom and in clinical. I taught Medical-Surgical Nursing IV and NCLEX-RN Review as well as the associated clinical for Medical-Surgical Nursing IV. Especially enjoyed the clinicals in that final semester of study with students as I was able to transfer my passion for critical care nursing onto my students many of whom went on to transition into critical care upon graduation.

I functioned as full-time faculty for the next several years where I planned and provided theoretical instruction and clinical/laboratory experiences that reflected an understanding of the philosophy, objectives, and curriculum of the Nursing Program.

During that time, I had the roles of Training Center Faculty for BLS on the campus, maintained my BLS and ACLS instructor status, chaired the campus Graduation Committee and the Faculty-Student Committee and participated in other campus and college-based projects. I coordinated the BLS classes that we provided to students and contributed to item writing for the MAPE exams that students had to take. Almost all of my responsibilities were student-facing and allowed me to use my knowledge and expertise to assist and motivate students to achieve both program and professional success.

What is your current role at Carrington College?

In 2018, I became the Assistant Dean of Nursing where my responsibilities included leadership for development and effective management of the Nursing Program, facilitating curriculum evaluation, planning course development, and planning and evaluating Faculty development and academic work to support student outcomes through supervision of Faculty and clinical coordinators. As the Assistant Dean of Nursing, I sit on the Faculty Council, and the Education, Outcomes and Assessment Committee.

I also maintained a per diem position with the Washoe County Health Department in the Immunization Clinic, a position that I still have today. Having the experience in Public Health was beneficial in helping me provide students with insight into Community Health issues that impacted the health of our patients we saw in the hospital.

What were some of your goals?

To be honest, my goals while I was faculty was to learn how to be a better educator, learn how to optimally manage a classroom and engage students, and continue to help students achieve their goals towards attaining their Associate Degree in Nursing and ultimately passing their licensing exams. To that end, the College began a program of training “Master Academic Faculty.” I completed that program, the benefits of which allowed me to fulfill the goal of becoming a better educator as well as turn those efforts towards educating Faculty, a slightly different educational area. I did not aspire to educational administration until 2018, when I was afforded an opportunity to apply for the Assistant Dean position.

The more I thought about the change in professional roles from faculty to administration, the more I realized that the change in position and role responsibilities would ultimately benefit students as well, my primary concern throughout my career. What has been extremely gratifying was to see some of those students go on to achieve their advanced degrees, some of whom I was able to mentor, and see them now function as Faculty themselves.

In retrospect, I guess my most meaningful and personal goal was to leave a legacy of influencing students to strive for excellence. To be passionate about the study of nursing and learn that nursing is about science, but also the art of caring for a fellow human being. To engage in lifelong learning and never settle for mediocrity.

Can you please share some thoughts on your recent DAISY Award?

I feel most honored and humbled to be awarded the Daisy for Lifetime Achievement in Nursing and Nursing Education. My healthcare career has spanned 43 years and has taken many turns. To have this recognition is the epitome of my career. It means I really did leave the legacy I wanted to leave. However, I had many role models along the way who helped me to get to this place. I just hope I also helped those along their journey to excellence.

You’ll be retiring in April 2024? How would you describe your experience at Carrington College?

My overall experience at Carrington has allowed my career to come full circle. I started as a bedside nurse, then went on to become a charge nurse, manager, staff development and academic educator, and finally administrator. These last 14 years at Carrington have allowed me to achieve my personal goals but also to influence a generation or two of future nurses.

What are some of the most memorable moments from your time at Carrington College?

I have seen the evolution of the Associate Degree in Nursing program at Carrington as it went through various curriculum changes. Proud to say that I had a voice into what the program looks like today. I also had the privilege of mentoring several former students and colleagues as they went through their master’s programs. They ultimately became educators and Faculty for Carrington. Finally, I participated in two ACEN surveys during my tenure at Carrington and feel that my contributions to curriculum and teaching helped Carrington Reno to achieve accreditation both times.

Are there any other events, achievements, or milestones that stand out to you?

I believe that nurses need to participate in professional organizations to provide a voice for advocacy and best practices. Also an avid volunteer for the American Association for Critical Care Nurses (AACN), American Heart Association, and Sigma Theta Tau. I have been an abstract reviewer, an educational mentor, an award reviewer, a scholarship peer reviewer, and CE review panelist and I currently hold the position of Treasurer for the local chapter of the AACN.

How have you contributed to the educational experience of students during your tenure?

I truly believe that role modeling professional behavior and imbuing passion for learning and a spirit of inquiry enhances the educational experience of all students. This was much easier to do in the clinical setting and is a bit more challenging as an administrator. However, I still teach in the classroom in the NUR266 course for NCLEX-RN Review. My job is to motivate and inspire, treat everyone fairly and equitably, and point the way to resources and learning strategies.

Are there specific courses, programs, or initiatives that you are particularly proud of?

I am quite proud of helping to transition the College to the use of a new third-party NCLEX-RN Review program. Carrington College in Reno was the first campus to integrate this new program and subsequently was instrumental in leading the way for the rest of the campuses to incorporate it.

Are there key lessons you’ve learned that you think would be valuable for others?

Yes, one must look to policies to guide practices and to ensure fair and consistent treatment of all students. One must not settle or compromise their principles. They should advocate for best practices using the internal infrastructure of their organization. Finally, one must strive for excellence.

Any advice for other staff members on how they can build a successful career at Carrington College?

I’d say you must be willing to take a risk and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Before I took on the position of the Assistant Dean, I hesitated because I was quite comfortable in my role of Faculty Educator. I then realized I was up to the challenge.

As you retire, what legacy do you hope to leave behind at Carrington College?

I hope that the colleagues remember to stay true to the ideals of education and teaching. Consider advancing their own education to pursue doctoral levels of preparation – that is the future of nursing.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you see the institution evolving in the years to come?

At this time in my life, it is time to focus on making connections back to my family, who all live back east. I will never truly leave nursing, but my priorities will be a bit more internal. Frankly, I look forward to expanding my interests in volunteering.

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