KOKOMO, Ind. – Indiana University Kokomo faculty member and alumna Debbie Bennett has been named “Nurse Educator of the Year” by the Indianapolis Star after being selected from more than 600 nominations for the annual Salute to Nurses award. She is now one of five finalists for the prestigious honor of “Nurse of the Year,” to be announced at a luncheon in Indianapolis in April.
“I am honored and overwhelmed. Any person wants to make a difference in the world,” said Bennett, after a surprise announcement while at work at IU Health Tipton Hospital on Tuesday, March 2. “I have a personal role in teaching impressionable nurses to be able to carry on the profession. God has given me a talent to be able to teach. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Bennett was surrounded by colleagues from the hospital and IU Kokomo when Adrianne Courtney, consumer marketing manager for The Star, made the announcement. Lora Gates, marketing and public relations manager at the hospital, submitted the nomination letter for Bennett.
“Debbie has very high standards for her students and wishes to motivate them in the same zealous way she views nursing,” Gates said in her letter. “She loves every aspect of nursing and tries her best to convey that to her students so they experience the excitement of what nursing is all about. Debbie is a shining example of the type of health care providers we need today.”
Bennett’s teaching at the hospital spans 30 years, but most recently as instructor for the R.N. to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) cohort partnership that began in August. This satellite program has provided the opportunity for R.N.’s in the Tipton and surrounding area to complete their IU Kokomo degree closer to home. This program has been offered as an alternative to attending classes on campus.
Linda Wallace, dean of the School of Nursing, said Bennett’s love for education and dedication to her profession has enriched the nursing school by teaching the pre-licensure and R.N. to B.S.N. programs, and by encouraging a very strong collaboration between IU Health-Tipton and IU Kokomo.
“Debbie is an exemplary nurse educator and treasured colleague,” Wallace said. “Nurses walk on the holy ground of real people’s lives. Debbie understands the significance of this work, demonstrates it in her own practice, and instills its importance in our students. Her passion for nursing and for teaching is contagious!”
Other teaching accomplishments of Bennett’s include: a Basic Life Support Instructor (BLS) since 1990; an Advanced Cardiac Life Support Instructor (ACLS) since 1985 and helps organize two provider courses a year; basic arrhythmia classes since 1992, and the lead instructor for new graduate nurse orientation for the last two years.
“I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Debbie for receiving this award,” said Chancellor Michael Harris. “She has taken the high-quality, top-notch education she received from this campus and has used it to make a profound difference in the nursing profession and in educating our future nurses.”
Bennett earned her associate degree in nursing in 1976 and her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1994 – both from IU Kokomo. She earned National Certification for Cricital Care in 1996. She obtained her master’s degree in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2007.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.
Media contact: Marie Radel