Honoring Our Instructors for National Education Week

NursingNovember 01, 2021

The week of November 15-19, 2021 is National Education Week, which honor the individuals working to ensure that every student receives a quality education. We thought it would be the perfect time to salute some of Fortis’ nursing educators, who dedicate themselves to helping students become the healthcare heroes of the future. Our instructors give so much of themselves. Here, they share why they love working with students. 

Empowering Others

Jake Frazier, M.S. is an anatomy and physiology instructor at Fortis College in Centerville, Ohio. He says preparing students for rewarding careers in medicine is a two-way street. For the past two years, he has valued the connections made with his diverse student body and finds that his most memorable moments happen when he can empower students to believe in themselves. 

“I had three students who experienced many struggles while in my Practical Nursing course,” he said. “When they returned [to one of my classes] during their Registered Nurse program, I was so proud because they realized they were more capable than they had ever imagined. They completed one goal and were inspired to keep going.” 

Jessica Smallenbarger, MSN, dean of nursing at Fortis College in Columbus, Ohio, also takes great pride in empowering others. 

“Each of their stories leaves a lasting impression, inspiring me to continue making these opportunities possible for others,” she said. If students are struggling, Jessica reaches out personally to check in and provide encouragement. “I tell them to picture themselves living a successful life and I encourage them to write positive notes and leave them all over the house to remind them of their goals and potential.” 

Deanne Pranke, MSN, is a lead online faculty member for mental health and nursing at Fortis College in Utah. A former trauma nurse, she is passionate about ensuring that students feel cared for and appreciated. 

“Our students are non-traditional and have a great deal on their plates. Many struggle with English as their second language and some are the first in their families to go to college. I tell them ‘Life happens to nurses, too’ – and work my hardest to help them overcome their challenges.” 

Sharing a Rewarding Career

Ashley Walkner, MSN, NP, has a passion for nursing that radiates in every area of her life, including her role as a nursing instructor at Fortis Institute in Cookeville, Tenn. 

“I always tell my students what a blessing it is when I get to be the person that gets to hold your hand during those fragile moments,” she shares. “Having had amazing nursing guidance and instructors myself, I knew I wanted to teach as a future goal,” she says. 

Ashley tells her students caring for patients on “their best and worst days” can be arduous but rewarding. “I love seeing that moment when students realize that even though this is hard, this is exactly where they are supposed to be,” says Ashley. Watching wide-eyed students enter the classroom and transform into working RNs is the highlight of her career. 

Monica De La Hoz is part of the nursing faculty at Fortis College in Cutler Bay, Fla. She says each nursing student represents an opportunity to provide knowledge, propel them in their path, and “help them discover the beauty of being a nurse.” 

When COVID-19 posed difficulties for both students and nurses, Monica reminded students of why they enrolled and gave them personalized care. “I love to promote the enthusiasm for such a profession, the desire to learn all that is necessary to become an excellent nurse,” she says.

Wilmanie Robert-Dossous, MSN, NP, is associate director of nursing at Fortis College in Orange Park, Fla. With more than a decade in healthcare, she paints a picture of what a career in nursing will be like for students. 
“I give them a vision on how their lives will change,” she says. A 60-year-old student who enrolled at Fortis College shared that she had been living in her car but “fought all odds” to graduate and achieve her BSN. “It shows the human spirit,” Wilmanie says. “With determination and hard work, we can accomplish anything despite obstacles in our way,” she continued. 

Many of Wilmanie’s students are single mothers and know that education is their path to security for their family. She’s passionate about providing education to her female students to help them “change their circumstances.”

If you’re thinking of a career in nursing, Fortis’s educators can provide you with an outstanding education as well as the caring and nurturing environment you may be looking for. Click here for more information on our nursing programs or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our career counselors.