News & Press: IONL in the News

Member Spotlight - Mary Carol Racelis, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC

Monday, May 20, 2019  

Mary Carol Racelis, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Department of Surgical, Neuro, Musculoskeletal & Rehab, Rush University Medical Center


Why did you become a member of IONL? 

Initially, I thought of IONL as an organization for the operational side of nursing leadership. Applying for and being accepted into the IONL fellowship is how I became a member. Grateful to Jennifer Grenier for the nudge! During the Fellowship, my viewpoint of IONL expanded with many experiences demonstrating the value of operational and clinical quality leaders partnering to improve outcomes together.


What about the nursing profession interested you initially? 

My father was a physician and my mother a nurse. I am one of five children and the only one to enter the medical/nursing profession. Most of my siblings followed creative art disciplines. I entered college majoring in pre-law but I guess in the end one cannot fight genetics. When I changed my major to nursing, my close friends laughed and said, “It’s about time.” I guess they knew from an early age I was drawn more to helping people and problem-solving.  


What is your favorite part of your job?  

As an advanced practice clinical nurse specialist (CNS), every day holds a variety of work with rich opportunities to collaborate, influence, problem solve, support, and design care improvements. My favorite part is mentoring and supporting other nurses (leaders, staff, and students) to apply best practices to reach individual, hospital & system goals.  


Tell us about yourself. What do you like to do outside of work? 

I have been a nurse for over 30 years working at four other Chicagoland hospitals. My husband Chris, three children, and I live in the near western suburbs. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, walking, biking, gardening, and shopping! I travel to Iowa on a regular basis to visit my parents.


What benefits have you experienced since becoming a member of IONL? 

IONL has expanded my leadership horizons facilitating interconnection to colleagues across the state. The Fellowship provided an opportunity for growth and reach as a leader. As a CNS, I have mostly aligned my development to NACNS competencies. Broadening exposure to AONE competencies via the Fellowship and at RUMC has added confidence, growth, and adaptability to my leadership tool kit.    


Why would you encourage others to participate in IONL?  

My three top reasons are:

  1. It's a one of a kind organization offering regional professional growth opportunities (outside of formal academic education) not easily replicated. Especially the opportunity to apply project management skills while receiving expert Fellowship coaching and institutional executive sponsorship guidance.
  2. Networking with other leaders from across the state and growing together as a cohort.
  3. The training days in Bloomington, IL included exploring current, pertinent, and practical leadership curriculum learning from accomplished nursing leaders. The experience was rich. These sessions included role-playing, discussions, brainstorming, and applying newly learned information. We examined our individual leadership strengths, as well as worked through actual leadership challenges as a group. The year ended with a visible increase in leadership confidence across the group. We completed the program better equipped to rise to the occasion and meet challenges as nurse leaders.

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