April 17, 2019

Servant as leader concept drives nursing alumna

50 Faces of Nursing: Rita Lisella BN’82, MN’91

Frontline nurse, instructor and employee at UCalgary Nursing – no matter what role Rita Lisella has held over the course of her career, with her kindness and gregarious nature, she has always been widely respected and well-loved by her colleagues and students.

Lisella was the Faculty of Nursing’s clinical practice coordinator for 12 years where she established strong relationships with partner agencies to secure practice placements for University of Calgary students. Even though she retired from the Faculty of Nursing in 2015, she currently volunteers her time as co-chair of the UCalgary Nursing Alumni Gold Committee with Judy Hanson. In the early 2000s, she served as president of the Faculty of Nursing’s Alumni Executive, helping to plan many successful alumni spring luncheons and silent auctions. She is also currently a community member volunteer on the Quality, Safety and Ethics committee with the Bethany Care Society.

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What’s a memorable experience you had at UCalgary Nursing?

“In the undergraduate program, I was introduced to ' Servant as Leader' (Greenleaf, 1970). Greenleaf's notion that 'servant-leader is servant first' resonated with me when I commenced my nursing career at the Calgary General Hospital. As a bedside RN, I was there to serve the needs of patients/families to optimize their health and well-being. When I assumed administrative and teaching roles, the servant-leader concept underpinned my decision-making and how I engaged with colleagues and students. I aspired to facilitate one's personal development and perform at a high standard. The proudest moments were when patients recovered from life-threatening events, staff achieved personal career goals, and students had an 'aha moment'!”

What most excites you about the future of nursing or changes coming in the profession?

“I am most excited about the nursing students who have chosen it as a second or third career. Upon graduation, this cohort of individuals has contributed a depth and breadth of experiences and knowledge to the community of nursing. They have created an environment of creativity and curiosity that will only strengthen our profession.”

Is there a nursing issue you are especially passionate about or you would like to change?

“I am very passionate about seniors’ care as our population ages. Our nursing leadership, advocacy, nursing education, and research will shape the future of aging. I look forward to lending my voice to better serve this population.”

What piece of advice would you like to share with aspiring nurses?

“It is important to surround oneself with a diverse group of individuals who will support, challenge, and celebrate with you!”