Throughout her academic career, Elizabeth Dillon demonstrated a passion for nursing.
That passion is still going strong as the recent UWindsor alumna embarks on her career, working full-time in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Michigan while also working part-time in the emergency department of Windsor Regional Hospital.
“I don’t sleep much,” Dillon said with a laugh.
Dillon, who just turned 23, graduated to many accolades. Not only did she have the Michigan job offer before graduation, Dillon won the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing (COUPN) award for excellence in professional nursing practice at the undergraduate student level.
Upon passing her National Council Licensure Examination on the first try, Dillon was awarded an intern designation from the de Souza Institute for continuing education in cancer and palliative care.
She completed the 100 hours of courses for the designation while working toward her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Windsor.
“Elizabeth is a truly remarkable student who has had a very large impact on the students in our program and on the faculty,” wrote Susan Dennison, UWindsor’s clinical practice learning specialist, and Lacey Ecclestone, clinical lab co-ordinator, the two instructors who nominated Dillon for the COUPN award.
“Everyone — faculty, staff and students — knows Elizabeth and can attest to her commitment to nursing. She is such an excellent role model, we cannot think of anyone more suitable to be recognized for this award.”
Dillon was the vice-president of the nursing society. She was a peer mentor in the nursing faculty’s clinical learning centre, a position she earned through her excellent grades. She also served on the faculty’s Medication and Patient Safety Advisory Committee, and on the Curriculum Committee.
She was involved in student recruitment, participating in the Ontario Universities’ Fair each fall representing the university and the Faculty of Nursing at the event for prospective students. She participated in both the fall and spring Open House, giving incoming students tours of the nursing facilities and talking to them about the program.
“She does not get involved just to build a resumé,” Dennison said. “She is sincerely passionate about nursing and education.”
COUPN, said Dillon, “exemplifies how to put nursing theory into practice” and “has demonstrated leadership and a passion for nursing far beyond her years.”
The Windsor native said she was both honoured and excited to learn about the award. She said she would not have traded her UWindsor experience for anything.
“The faculty has been so supportive in allowing me to be involved in so many other things,” she said. “No other nursing program in Ontario was going to give me what I got here.”
Ontario universities graduate more than 4,500 nursing students each year. COUPN handed out seven awards this year to students, teachers, researchers and mentors across the province.
Dillon said getting her intern designation from the de Souza Institute was an important goal.
“As a nurse, I see the whole spectrum of cancer care from a new diagnosis to end-of-life care and I am better able to provide for these patients after this designation.”
Dillon’s investment of time and effort showcases her commitment to nursing excellence, said the institute’s executive director, Mary Jane Esplen.
“Her knowledge and confidence facilitated a smooth transition from a recent graduate to a registered nurse who tends to patients with high acuity,” Dr. Esplen wrote in a letter announcing the accomplishment.
Founded in 2008 by the Ontario government, the de Souza Institute provides health-care professionals expertise in cancer and palliative care.