Get to know your faculty: Elissa “Ellie” Wagner

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“The first shot I ever gave was to a lamb,” said Ellie Wagner, DNP, RN. “I’m a rural girl and grew up raising farm animals. I think many of those lessons translate really well to nursing. Raising animals teaches important lessons about responsibility, empathy, setting goals and even decision making like which syringe size to use.”

Dr. Wagner now balances family life and raising sheep on a small Washtenaw County farm with her teaching position as a clinical instructor in UMSN’s Undergraduate Nursing program.

She followed a path to nursing after her aunt, who is a nurse, observed her as a young girl taking care of her brother’s skinned knee.

Dr. Ellie Wagner“My aunt said, ‘you know, you might want to think about becoming a nurse,’ so I did,” said Dr. Wagner. “I was really drawn to the science and I liked being around patients.”

Dr. Wagner worked as a practicing nurse for several years before making the transition to education in 2010. She teaches core sophomore classes N254 and N256 which includes time in UMSN’s Clinical Learning Center and in clinical settings at University Hospital. Dr. Wagner said she developed a passion for the sophomore level through those experiences.

“You see so much development during the sophomore year,” said Dr. Wagner. “They begin the year as novice care providers and have so many first experiences that by the end of the year they are starting to function as nurses in many ways. This is exciting for both myself and the students and I am honored to share that with them."

Dr. Wagner is a firm believer in advancing education, including her own. She recently earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and said she’s pleased to be an example to students.

“The profession of nursing is changing and the bar is rising,” she said. “Health care is getting more complex in terms of managing chronic conditions, safety, health systems and much more. Staying current and using evidence-based practice is really important. When we continue our education, it pushes us and the students see that. It also widens career avenues.”

Dr. Wagner says the most important advice she tries to instill in students is to never stop asking questions.

“It improves your own understanding and your questions make other people think,” said Dr. Wagner. “The worst question is the one that doesn’t get asked.”