Nurse Fellows

WSU Alumna Leads the Way

Nursing is far more than administering medications, checking vital signs, and helping to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Nursing is about considering the whole patient in order to treat the whole person.

Karen A. Biel is a graduate of the rst nursing class at Winona State College in 1968. She has a dream of facilitating nursing leadership ideas with an endowment to the WSU Foundation.

Biel graduated from the Winona BSN program that combined her four years of nursing education with the Army Nurse Corp (ANC) tuition dollars to pay for the last two years of schooling. In return, the ANC required two years of active duty, one of which was served in Vietnam.

Upon completion of her commitment to the ANC, Biel worked at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minn., and continued her nursing practice with the Mayo Clinic Foundation in various roles for nearly 40 years, retiring in 2007.

Biel’s nursing specialty was director of perioperative nursing at various Mayo sites. She concentrated on building nursing staff leadership roles and designing perioperative facilities and state-of-the-art operating rooms, as well as staf ng and program planning.

“Success of these roles was to have the right people in the right roles at the right time,” said Biel. “Serving the patient at all levels and areas of care was always paramount in completing the job successfully.”

Biel attributes her professional nursing success to a solid nursing education, and working with people who had the same goals in caring for the patient.

Her commitment to nursing care continues.

Biel feels a responsibility to help others pursuing a career in nursing, and so partnered with Dr. William McBreen, dean of the WSU College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Dr. Martha Scheckel, Department of Nursing chair, to enhance leadership options in the current nursing curriculum.

Assistant Professor Terese Hemmingsen took the lead, working with Assistant Professors Melanie Johnson and Jennifer Timm to develop the Karen Biel Nursing Leader Fellowship.

The Biel Patient-Centered Leadership model identi es 10 key leadership characteristics that promote patient-centered care. The core of these characteristics are organized into three groups: Knowing Self, Patient-Centered Leader, and Interdisciplinary Collaboration.

The Biel Fellowship is a leadership program designed speci cally for the undergraduate nursing student, with fellows selected annually through an application process. The program builds on the student’s current leadership abilities, which promote safe and effective, high-quality, patient-centered care in the clinical setting.

Throughout each semester of the fellowship, up to three students will engage in activities that promote the development of these clinical leadership characteristics through self-re ection, small group discussion, guest speaker presentations, simulation, and completion of online learning modules. Students will receive ve credit hours for their participation, in addition to a 30-hour eld experience. Cognitive, emotional, and experiential leaning will enhance the student’s professional practice at the clinical level.

“I received a ‘ rst-class’ WSU education that helped me establish myself professionally and to develop quality patient programs and quality teams to care for patients,” said Biel. “I attribute my success to an effective education and experiential learning throughout my career.

I hope to provide WSU nursing students with opportunities to expand their leadership skills through experiences and dialogue created through the Biel Fellowship.”

Through the WSU Foundation, the Biel Fellowship will bene t students and patients alike for generations to come.

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Sarah DeLano

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