Nursing director Susan Elliott leaves behind legacy
Nursing department director Susan Elliott is resigning from her position after this semester from her long and successful career at Biola. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES
Departing nursing department director Susan Elliott has brought improvements and success to the program over the last six years. Described as a visionary and advocate by those who work with her, Elliott has indeed left her mark on Biola.
Under Elliott’s care, the department received perfect marks during its accreditation reviews from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and Board of Registered Nurses, said assistant director Anne Gewes.
“We got full accreditation with no recommendations, or no warning or anything like that. … They said we had met every single criteria that was necessary,” Gewes said.
A CALL TO MOVE ON
While Elliott accomplished a great deal during her time at Biola and had planned to accomplish more, she said she heard God’s call to move on.
“Last May I was sitting at my home … and I just had a very clear defining moment with the Lord, not an audible voice, but I clearly in my head heard, ‘Write your letter of resignation now.’ And I just froze and I began to pray, ‘Lord? Is this you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, your season at Biola is coming to an end, you’ve got other things,’” Elliott said.
Gewes will take over as acting director until Elliott’s replacement is found. Elliott still has not found her next step.
“I do not know where I’m going,” she said. “I did not turn in my resignation because I had something else to go to.”
A LASTING LEGACY
Students are inspired by the passion and knowledge Elliott has contributed to their education.
“She’s definitely put the challenge out there and pushed us. Her work isn’t easy but … she sets the bar high so we know that we meet those high standards and we’re going to be great nurses graduating,” said Priscilla Curran, a senior nursing major.
After working on six continents in the nursing field, mainly in women’s health, Elliott has been able to help the program interact with the healthcare industry in a global context. Students have travelled to work in health care in Rwanda, the Philippines, Mexico and rural Alaska, Gewes said. Elliott also worked to get a $50,000 grant to help pay for the students who went to Rwanda as part of one of the nursing courses.
TAKING A STAND
Elliott said she has also been involved in the professional nursing world and spoken on current issues in the healthcare industry. She testified at the national press conference on the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which would keep nurses who refused to perform abortions from being fired.
“I told them that as a nurse in my career — and I have been in women’s health, labor and delivery — I had never had to participate in the ending of life. And it made no sense to me that legally I had to go into this exam room with this woman who’s pregnant and do everything I possibly can for her well-being and for the little one growing inside of her well-being, and then go into this [other] room and kill the baby,” Elliott said.
Elliott’s pro-life support extended to alumni Diana Jimenez, who stirred controversy on campus after showing graphic images of aborted fetuses at an informational booth last year. Over the summer, Elliott was accused by Center for Bioethical Reform executive director Gregg Cunningham of forbidding faculty to provide Jimenez with recommendations as a result of the demonstrations. However, Elliott said that the two instances were unrelated.
“It was not specifically to the fact that she had taken a stand on pro-life. She was cheered for that here by me and with others … It was other behavior had nothing to do with her being pro-life,” Elliott explained.
Out of all the things she has accomplished while at Biola, Elliott said the most gratifying part has been engaging with students day-to-day.
“When you see a student have an ah-ha moment, when they’re like, ‘Oh! So that’s how this works and that works,’ so by learning how the body works they get to know God more as the creator. That’s sweet, it’s very precious,” Elliott said.