By: Emily Lehner
Emily Ireland graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. She was a part of the Post-Licensure RN-BSN Program at Indiana Wesleyan. Ireland was working full-time at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood, Kentucky when she decided to progress in her education. She said, “I had heard great things about IWU’s BSN program and found the convenience of attending the onsite Florence location very suitable to my needs.”
During this time, she had an 18 month old at home. “My hope was that IWU would provide the right type of school, work and family life balance that I needed. While I was content with my professional life, I knew I wanted to achieve more and by advancing my degree, I was hopeful for new opportunities.” Ireland was enlightened and challenged by IWU’s Department of Nursing. She said, “Unlike the traditional University I had attended previously, I found a sense of peace and belonging at IWU, which made the challenge of completing my degree less intimidating.”
Ireland spoke of how she grew spiritually during her time at Indiana Wesleyan, and mentioned that prayer was incorporated into every class meeting as a part of the Christian philosophy of the University. She also stated, “I became more centered during my time at IWU. As a nontraditional student, I had to find the right balance to make everything in my life mesh. I took a leap of faith and began the pursuit of advancing within my profession and my openness to grow has opened a multitude of opportunities for myself.” Ireland believes that IWU provided her with intellect and a spiritual connectedness that allows her to better serve herself, her family and her patients.
In the hospital, Ireland has contributed to great changes. For her final project as an IWU student, she created a patient centered mobility program. She presented this program to her workplace and it was later implemented. She said, “All three St. Elizabeth inpatient facilities have since implemented the mobility program. The program has impacted the patients and the organization of St. Elizabeth by not only improving overall mobility and patient care, but also decreasing patient length of stay.”
Indiana Wesleyan’s influence on Ireland spiritually and intellectually reached not only her career path, but her everyday life as well. She currently volunteers at her son’s school for grades 1st through 8th. Ireland said, “I look for ways to incorporate my love for nursing outside of the hospital walls as well. I assist with the Everybody Counts program in the first-grade classroom. A program which teaches the children that a disability does not define who a person is or what they can achieve.” Ireland also chairs the hearing and vision screenings at the school.
On top of her excellent Nursing career, Ireland is an avid runner. She has completed a full marathon, five half-marathons and numerous 5 and 10K’s, as well as two triathlons. She said, “Running challenges me and allows me to set new goals for myself. I want to teach my boys (7 years old and 22 months old) the importance of a healthy lifestyle and that hard work, both personally and professionally, does not go unnoticed.” She continued to say, “I have a wonderful and supportive spouse who has been by my side as I advance within my profession and continually challenge myself both personally and professionally. My parents have been my rock and help with our boys amidst my crazy schedule.”
Currently, Ireland remains at St. Elizabeth working weekends in the Medical Surgical unit that specializes in Pulmonary patients. She also aids new nurses and shares her experience with them. Ireland is pursuing her MSN in Nurse Executive Leadership and said, “I was one of 30 nurses selected for the cohort through my employer. The education I received at IWU has opened yet another window of opportunity to which I am extremely grateful. The guidance and support I received and continue to receive from the nursing faculty exemplify the University on so many levels.”
Ireland plans graduate again in May of 2019. She believes, “Nursing has evolved tremendously and the future of our profession depends on individuals who are willing to speak their voice and advocate for our patients and for our professions.” Ireland attempts to combine her experience as a bedside nurse and her leadership skills to teach the nursing staff to dream big. She stated, “We owe it to not only ourselves and our families, but to our patients as well.”
Written by Emily Lehner, a writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others.