From Nursing Student to Faculty Member, Bloomington Grad Becomes a Rising Star

As a bank manager, Todd Ellenson always wanted more. Since he was 12-years-old, Ellenson says he knew he wanted to be a nurse. When Ellenson was young, he experienced the heartbreaking death of his grandfather, who was then in the Intensive Care Unit. “While it was difficult to be at his bedside, the hugs and compassion a nurse gave me showed me what being a nurse was all about,” says Ellenson. He knew then that being a nurse was what he was destined to do. However, he didn’t have the faith in himself that he was smart enough for the profession and did not initially pursue it.

Instead of following his childhood dream, Ellenson went to school to be a pilot, and then moved into an Accounting program. While he was interested in those careers, he never finished his education. In January 2014, he realized he wanted to try to get his degree again, but this time, wanted to take the plunge and pursue a degree in Nursing.

When researching Nursing programs in the Twin Cities, Ellenson found the Rasmussen University Professional Nursing Associate’s degree (ADN) program at the Bloomington Campus. “The College didn’t put you through a lot of red tape, and it seemed like it would work for me,” he says. To his surprise, it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with school. “All of my instructors were amazing. The coursework challenged me but ultimately propelled me to graduation,” he says. Suddenly, his dreams were being realized: Ellenson was actually going to become a nurse.

In December 2015, Ellenson graduated from the Rasmussen University ADN program and started working as an RN in a nursing home. It only took him three months to realize he craved more and wanted to be back in the classroom. “I wanted to provide the best care as I could for my patients,” he says. So Ellenson enrolled in the Rasmussen University Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. While in the program, he continued to work at the nursing home but wanted something different after learning about working in a hospital setting. He switched roles to a floor nurse on the Cardiac/Telemetry unit before quickly transitioning to a telemetry technician. While he was only a year and a half into his nursing career, those around him took notice of his skills, and he was encouraged to become a charge nurse responsible for an entire unit, a role Ellenson had never considered but took in stride.

Ellenson’s career was demanding, but he was still dedicated to his studies. “It was hard to find the balance between life, work and school. But then I would think, ‘This is only 18 months of my life, and after I make it through this program, my life will be so much better,’” he says. While it took dedication and effort on his part, Ellenson’s passion for the field and the growth he experienced made everything worth it.

As graduation neared, Rasmussen University's Bloomington Campus dean of nursing, Stephanie Yackel, approached Ellenson with an offer he had never considered, but one he could not pass up. “Dean Yackel asked me to be a clinical instructor for the Nursing program. It felt really good to be noticed for the work I was doing, even before graduation,” Ellenson says.

Ellenson knew he wanted to accept the position. “This was an opportunity for me to give back to the school that has given so much to me.” In Summer 2017, Ellenson taught his first quarter of clinical students. Instead of completing assignments and learning theories out of the textbook, he was the one creating the assignments and giving the students the opportunity to put classroom theories into practice.

Being in their shoes not too long before created a special bond between Ellenson and his students. “I understand what they are going through; I am fresh and energized and ready to learn along with them,” he says. While juggling teaching with a new role in the emergency room, once again his hard work did not go unnoticed by those around him.

In October 2017, to his surprise and amazement, Ellenson was nominated by one of his managers at the hospital for the Rising Star Award at the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Celebration. The award goes to a new nurse who is making a remarkable impact in the field. With over 400 applications, Ellenson made it to the top five—a “Truly overwhelming moment,” he says. Being a finalist for the prestigious Rising Star Award solidified Ellenson’s place in the nursing field. He says, “I never thought I would be where I am today, doing what I love and teaching others to be nurses, too. It is such an experience.”

From student to faculty to a true rising star, Ellenson has started his legacy within the nursing profession and is dedicated to giving back to those who, like him, never dreamed they could make it in the nursing field.

To develop your passion for the nursing field, discover Rasmussen University's nursing programs.

About the author

Hannah Burn

Hannah is a Sr. Communications Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She loves to share stories and hopes that her content inspires others to pursue their educational goals.

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