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Nursing professor Jeanette Rossetti honored with IBHE Nurse Educator Fellowship Award

March 14, 2011
Jeanette Rossetti

Jeanette Rossetti

Jeanette Rossetti has become the fifth nursing professor from NIU to receive a prestigious Nurse Educator Fellowship Award from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Rossetti, who teaches courses in mental health nursing in the School of Nursing and Health Studies, is among the fourth class of a program created to ensure the retention of well-qualified nursing educators.

Illinois, like other states, is suffering from a critical lack of nurses and nursing educators.

“There are just not enough nurse educators. This fellowship award is one way the Illinois Board of Higher Education is trying to address the critical shortage,” Rossetti said. “I am one of 13 nurse educators across the state this year who have received this award. It is truly an honor.”

“Jeanette is one of our most outstanding teachers here in the nursing program. She is almost every year asked to be the faculty member who gives the graduation address at the convocation ceremony,” said Brigid Lusk, chair of the school housed in the College of Health and Human Sciences.

“Nursing students just love her,” Lusk added. “She is innovative, energetic, friendly, caring and an overall great teacher, and I’m just delighted she won this award. She totally deserves it.”

Rossetti joins NIU colleagues Karen Baldwin, Judith Hertz, Nancy Oldenburg and Donna Plonczynski, members of the first three classes of honorees.

Recipients of the nursing fellowships collaborate with the IBHE and the Illinois Center for Nursing, assist in reviewing nomination materials for future fellows and participate in conferences.

They must participate in statewide nursing advocacy and prepare final reports that describe their fellowship experiences.

Fellows also receive $10,000 each to further their work as teachers and researchers.

“Advocating for the rights of the mentally ill is a passion of mine and psychiatric nursing is my specialty,” Rossetti said. “I plan to use this award while spending time in Ireland on a sabbatical, studying international psychiatric nursing and preparing a curriculum for utilizing mental health simulation.”

The Joliet native earned a degree in nursing from Lewis University but felt unexpected doubts during her first clinical rotation in medical surgical nursing.

Her second clinical, in the psychiatric ward, reignited her passion for nursing and launched her career as a psychiatric mental health nurse. “I was fascinated by what the mind could do or not do, and my teacher was so supportive. She truly was inspirational and encouraged me to pursue psychiatric nursing. I learned early on about the difference a teacher can make.” 

Rossetti started at Riveredge Hospital, a 200-bed psychiatric facility in Forest Park. Her specialty was the adolescent population and, even though the work was hard and often challenging, she loved her work there.

Her 13 years at Riveredge also provided a first dose of teaching when nursing students arrived for clinicals. “I always enjoyed working with nursing students. They are so bright and energetic and have such a passion for learning”.

In 1996, she earned a master’s degree focused on psychiatric nursing from St. Xavier University. She eventually became an instructor at Rockford’s Saint Anthony College of Nursing, where she fell in love with teaching.

She joined the faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2000 and completed her doctoral degree at NIU in 2002, focusing on adult education. “I learned everything I know about teaching and research from the great faculty in my Ed.D. program,” she said.

In 2009, she won NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching award.

“I truly am honored to be chosen for this award,” Rossetti said. “I am lucky to be able to work with the ‘best of the best’ nursing students and a wonderful supportive faculty and staff at the School of Nursing and Health Studies.”