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Highlights from MCN Nurses Week

MCN Nurses Week kicked off on April 21 with a potluck for faculty and staff in Edwards Hall. The Student Nurses Association (SNA) Candlelighting Ceremony was held on April 23, and Vickie Gashe Lannie ’65 was the keynote speaker. The Class of 1965 was honored at the Golden Jubilee Celebration on April 24 and received their 50 Year pin.

The celebrations for MCN Nurses Week ended on April 25 with the Mennonite Nurses Alumni Organization’s Awards and Reunion Banquet at the Alumni Center. The following awards were presented at the banquet:

Distinguished Alumni Award – Vickie Gasche Lannie ’65
Early Career Achievement Award – Lauren Park Nelson, B.S.N. ’06
Service Award – David A. Strand
Spirit of Nursing Award – Delores (Miller) Carter ’60 and Diane (Binder) Johner ’74

Distinguished Alumni Award

Vickie Gasche Lannie '65

Vickie Gasche Lannie ’65

Vickie Gasche Lannie graduated from Mennonite School of Nursing in 1965 and began her long and impressive nursing career at Mennonite Hospital. As a student, she took special interest in the dying patients she came across. Her concern for their care led to a long-term study of death and dying through observation and education. In 1965 she attended a workshop on the subject and met Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, known as a pioneer in death and dying as well as hospice care in the United States. This grew Lannie’s passion and led to a five-year independent study with Dr. Kubler-Ross in her Chicago area home. Her goal was to learn as much as she could about how to provide the best care possible to patients at the end of their lives.

After studying the hospice movement with Kubler-Ross, Lannie was inspired to bring the same philosophy of care to Illinois. In 1974, she was employed at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and worked with staff to put that philosophy into practice. This led to her serving as coordinator of the Community Consortium on Hospice which included clergy, medical personnel and social workers working together to plan a hospice program in central Illinois. Although well represented within the medical community, the consortium was met with quite a bit of skepticism and difficulty. At that time the medical community was based solely on the art of healing and curing and in that definition there was no room for the care of those patients who were dying.

She became Methodist Hospital’s first hospice coordinator. Lannie continued to fight for this form of care that was so needed, educating staff workers in hospice, advocating its need to physicians, and working directly with dying patients to hone her own skills. She spent 35 years comforting more than 9,000 families in the Peoria area and helped bring hospice care to thousands more. In 2000, Lannie was recognized as one of the 25 Women in Leadership for her hospice work. Her care for those who need it most is exemplary and her dedication has greatly influenced central Illinois.

Early Career Achievement Award

Award recipient Lauren Park Nelson

Lauren Park Nelson, B.S.N. ’06

Lauren Park Nelson graduated cum laude from Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing with her B.S.N. in 2006. She went on to earn her M.S. as an adult nurse practitioner from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010.

After graduating from MCN, Nelson began her career at the Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Mary’s Campus in Rochester, Minnesota, caring for a variety of post-operative patients. While she was going to graduate school, she was an RN at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, and was also a teaching assistant at the School of Nursing. Nelson is currently a nurse practitioner at Fairview Geriatric Services in Edina, Minnesota.

In the following years working as a nurse practitioner, she explored her passion for nursing and focused her interests on geriatric care. She began working at a senior living/advanced memory care center in Minnesota caring for over 100 patients. Nelson continues to provide her dedicated care to the geriatric population throughout the Minneapolis metro area.

Beyond the workplace, Nelson volunteers for a local food pantry, and the Minnesota Twins First Aid Team. She has also recently traveled to rural India with a team of fellow healthcare professionals to volunteer in village clinics—an experience she calls challenging, eye-opening, and one of the most important achievements of her life.

At MCN, Nelson was in the Honors Program, was a Collegiate International Scholars Laureate (she traveled to South Africa to study nursing) and a scholarship recipient of the LaRue Sloan Endowed Scholarship. She currently has certifications in Adult Nurse Practitioner and is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

A Redbird through and through, Nelson remains glad she started her career at MCN. The clinical and critical thinking skills she developed here made her feel confident and well-prepared for her future as a medical professional. Her strong foundation fostered at MCN has served her well and continues to help her better focus on her patients.

Service Award

Dr. David Strand

David Strand

David Strand began his career at Illinois State University in 1978, serving as vice president for business and finance as well as vice president and provost and executive officer prior to becoming university president in 1995. Of his many accomplishments, the most influential to Mennonite College of Nursing was facilitating the college’s transfer to Illinois State University. Strand recognized the great potential in adding MCN to the university’s colleges and saw the mutual benefit that had previously been overlooked.

In 1999, MCN arrived at the university during a severe nursing shortage with 181 undergraduate students and 49 graduate students. The college needed a financially stable and supportive home while Illinois State gained a college renowned for producing graduates who are exceptional clinicians and tireless advocates for their patients. With dramatic changes on the horizon for healthcare, this merger proved constructive for all involved—thanks to Strand’s efforts.

Since its arrival, MCN has grown in numbers and programs. In 2015, the undergraduate program has 583 students enrolled across the traditional and accelerated B.S.N. programs as well as the online RN-B.S.N. The graduate program has 123 students enrolled across the family nurse practitioner and online nursing systems administration programs and the Ph.D. in Nursing and doctor of nursing practice programs. The nearly 100-year-old reputation has continued to flourish as the college’s alumni put their outstanding training into practice across the state and nation.

MCN is grateful for all of the support and dedication Strand has shown for the college, and our vision to be a premier college of nursing dedicated to improving local and global health outcome will continue thanks to his service.

Spirit of Nursing Award

Delores Miller Carter ’60

Award recipient Delores Miller Carter

Delores Miller Carter ’60

Delores Miller Carter graduated from Mennonite School of Nursing in 1960 and began her 43-year nursing career. She spent 42 of those years working at Mennonite/Brokaw Hospitals. As a nurse, her passion and dedication shone brightly every day and the care she gave to hundreds of patients made an impact that still resonates years later.

Throughout her career, Carter worked nights in an acute hospital setting in medical-surgical, orthopedic, rehabilitation, hospice, urology, and gynecological units, displaying extraordinary diversity, resourcefulness and strength. She also adapted to many dramatic changes in healthcare technology. Committed to staying abreast, Carter attended continuing education programs so she could continue to provide the best care possible to her patients and shared her wisdom with those who worked with her.

She provided top notch nursing care to every patient she worked with. Her communication skills, attentiveness and compassion were a product of her devout faith. Carter continuously inspired and shared her faith and kindness with those around her. Her commitment and impressive career is a true embodiment of the spirit of nursing.

Diane Binder Johner ’74

Award recipient Diane Binder Johner

Diane Binder Johner ’74

Diane Binder Johner graduated from Mennonite School of Nursing in 1974. She currently serves as a health facilities surveillance nurse with the Illinois Department Public Health surveying long term care facilities in the Champaign region of Illinois.

She served for 20 years at the Macon County Health Department as director of health promotion and public relations coordinator. During her time as a public health nurse, she was actively involved in promoting health throughout the county and her accomplishments have greatly influenced the lives of many people.

Johner facilitated the formation of one of the first active Safe Kids Coalition in the State of Illinois, and served as chairperson for the annual Safe Kids Day for over a decade hosting up to 1,500 kids and parents with the help of 150 volunteers each year. The purpose of the event was to prevent unintentional injuries, the number one killer of kids. For several years she chaired Project ReLEAF, a grass-roots committee, which promoted a community wide educational program encouraging residents to “choose not to burn.” She and members of the committee testified at City Council meetings on the health hazards of leaf burning and in 2000 the City of Decatur voted to ban leaf burning. She facilitated the Macon County Smoke Free Restaurant Recognition Program promoting smoke free restaurants prior to the state law.

Johner has sought to serve the vulnerable throughout her career. She implemented the Macon County Prostate and Testicular Cancer Screening program reaching underserved and underinsured men in Macon County. She was presented the Legislative Award by State Representative Bob Flider for her efforts to create legislation for men’s health to mirror the breast and cervical cancer program for women.

Johner is passionate about nursing students. She served as a nursing instructor at Richland Community College, Milliken University, University of Illinois and her alma mater Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing, where she served as adjunct faculty since 2000. She believes in and empowers each student and works tirelessly to provide students with excellent nursing experiences. She loves giving nursing students opportunities and experiences they never have thought of or a chance to do something they have always wanted to do.

Johner is creatively involved in seeking out the best teaching approaches for effectively educating students about public health nursing. She is a role model for nursing students and a true public health nurse doing great things with the joy of helping others.

To see more pictures from MCN events, please visit our page on Flickr!


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Nurses' week exists to pay tribute to those who unselfishly shared their hard word and dedication to the nursing profession. Nurses truly deserve constant appreciation and recognition for the lives they affect. Kudos to everyone in the nursing profession!

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