Alumnus Elaine Nishioka Wins UC College of Nursing Award

Graduate and former teacher at the UC College of Nursing, Elaine Nishioka, RN, MSN, CPNP was awarded the 2003 Distinguished Alumnus Award for her immense dedication and significant contributions to the nursing profession.

Nishioka currently is working as a pediatric nurse practitioner doing developmental research as a Healthy Steps specialist at Eastover Pediatrics in North Carolina. Originating from Boston University, Healthy Steps is a national, multi-site research program focused on placing developmental specialists in a pediatric program. Through this position, she and a partner followed families and supported them through the critical first three years of life by facilitating parent groups, conducting home visits and developmental assessments, and managing common behavior problems. Nishioka also wrote a grant for a prototype pilot Healthy Steps II project that has been steadily gaining attention from across the country. This version stresses the same services as the original with an additional concentration on the needs of premature infants, multiple births and foreign-born adopted children. This spring, the faculty at Boston University invited her to participate in a training program in Kansas City in hopes to make the Healthy Steps project self-sustaining.

Friend and former co-worker, Janice McRorie, RN, MS, a faculty member at the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing and chair of the North Carolina Board of Nursing, was so impressed with Nishioka's accomplishments that she added an attachment to her nomination letter.

"I felt that the few lines on the brochure did not allow me to adequately describe what she has done," she said.

At just 19, Nishioka graduated from the Jewish Hospital School of Nursing in Cincinnati in 1969. She worked in Pediatrics at the General Hospital (now University Hospital) and then became a charge nurse at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. She was promoted to assistant head nurse and finally head nurse where she was head of orienting new nurses.

However, Nishioka's true dream was to teach nursing, so she decided to return to school to get her BSN from UC and afterwards received a vocational teaching position with the Cincinnati Public School of Practical Nursing. Once her daughters were in school, Nishioka went back to UC to get her MSN. She was extremely proud to be one of few students to complete her degree in only four quarters.

Upon obtaining her MSN, Nishioka was hired by her mentor, Marie Spruck, to teach at UC, one of her greatest aspirations, where she stayed until moving to North Carolina. As a clinical instructor for a pediatrics course at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), she became notorious for using costumes and characters to supplement her teaching. Some of the characters included "the nurse from hell," used to demonstrate bad characteristics in a nurse; and a child, used to emphasize to her students the differences between treating children and adults. Even after leaving UNCC, Nishioka continued doing clinical groups in the evenings or on weekends.

Some of Nishioka's other achievements include being named one of "The Great 100" nurses in North Carolina for 2000, having published several articles as well as reviewing articles for nursing journals, and remaining active in her community through volunteering for programs her children were involved with. She is active in local, state, and national chapters of NAPNAP, the Society of Pediatric Nurses and was a Board Member of Sigma Theta Tau.

"Elaine is well respected in the community in Charlotte by parents, physicians, colleagues and students," said McRorie.

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