Exterior view of Co-op Wellness Commons with MHC crest

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MHC nursing instructor honoured with leadership award

For over 20 years, Stephanie Nowaczyk has dedicated her career to healthcare. As program coordinator and instructor for the practical nurse (PN) and health care aide programs at Medicine Hat College (MHC), her commitment to advancing the next generation of healthcare professionals has led her to be chosen as the Leadership in Nursing Education – PN Educator award recipient by Alberta Nursing Education Administrators (ANEA).

An alumni from MHC’s PN and physical therapy programs, Nowaczyk’s passion for learning and working with nurses drove her to a career as an instructor. 

“I love to see how excited learners get when they really start to think critically and get confident in their skills,” says Nowaczyk. “It really brings me back to when I first started nursing.” 

Recognizing the need for leadership in the healthcare industry, Nowaczyk pursued a Master of Arts in Leadership with a specialization in Health from Royal Roads University. She is now using her skills to foster leadership in nurses entering the field. 

“Healthcare is always changing so nurses need to be able to adapt, be creative, and be innovative in different situations. My education helped not only my own leadership, but it also gives me more of an understanding of how we can help students and nurses coming into the workforce.”

Creating a learning environment in which students feel safe and supported is an important step to ensuring student success, adds Nowaczyk, who believes when both students and faculty can learn from the perspectives of others, it improves creativity and growth in the classroom. 

“We have such a variety of students with different experiences, which is amazing because we can learn from their perspectives. Beyond faculty-led teaching, we actively learn with our students, fostering an environment where they can experience innovation and creativity during their studies.”

In addition to her work in the classroom, Nowaczyk is making strides in supporting the healthcare industry. This year, she was successful in helping expand the PN program by 32 seats and creating a new intake at the Medicine Hat campus, in addition to Brooks. She also prides herself on her commitment to ensuring the curriculum is updated as the scope of work for practical nurses expands.
“I was so emotional when I received the award because it really means a lot to be recognized for the hard work that I've done,” Nowaczyk reflects. “It makes me proud and honored to be receiving this award and having people nominate me is really special.”

Dean of MHC’s health and community services, Jason Openo, says Nowaczyk’s leadership has helped to enhance the program and the recognition by her colleagues and peers is well-deserved.

“Just recently, we learned that 100% of MHC’s PN students passed their licensing exam on their first try,” adding that MHC’s PN students have often scored highly. “This is a team win, and Stephanie’s commitment to excellence sets a tone for the faculty and the students in the PN program.”