• Ignite

Nurses Who Inspire: Heather Mangino, EdD(c), MSN, BS, RN

RESOLVE TO BE TENACIOUS

If you are interested in becoming an early career nurse educator, stay focused on your goal but be flexible about how you get there.

We interviewed Heather Mangino, a nurse educator currently facilitating pre-licensure nursing education for first degree and accelerated second degree baccalaureate students. Heather teaches Professional Concepts of Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing, and Capstone courses, while pursuing her own higher education goals in a Doctorate of Nursing Education program.


Ignite:

Where are you from and what drives your passion to be in nursing?


Heather:

I am from Hartford Connecticut, and originally from Massachusetts. I am an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Saint Joseph. As a nurse, I am passionate about meeting patients where they are, in terms of needs and life circumstances. Nursing education has helped me to share this passion with students through teaching, service, and scholarship. My commitment to nursing has expanded to include improving nursing education and meeting students’ needs.


Ignite:

Can you guide us through the step-by-step process you traversed to get to where you are today in your career?


Heather:

I have been an RN for 14 years. My first degree is a BS in psychology. While I was in school, I worked as a patient care assistant in an ear, nose, and throat ambulatory surgery center in Boston. The nurses who worked there inspired me with their empathy and skills. Helping patients recover from surgery sparked my interest in nursing. I moved to Connecticut and obtained my BS in nursing in an accelerated second-degree program.


After graduation, I worked as an organ transplantation and end-stage organ disease nurse at a large teaching hospital. During that time, I had the opportunity to precept nursing students and discovered my passion for teaching. When I felt that I had enough clinical experience to teach, I became a nursing instructor for an LPN program. Because I taught LPNs in the clinical setting, my nursing skills expanded to include long-term care and sub-acute rehabilitation.


While I taught LPNs, I obtained my MSN with a focus in nursing education. I was a teaching assistant for a graduate nursing theory course during my last year in the program. After graduation, I was offered an adjunct faculty position there.


After a few semesters of teaching a graduate-level nursing course, I applied to my dream job, which was a faculty position at my undergraduate nursing alma mater. I did not get the job because I did not have enough experience teaching in a university setting. Considering my dream was to be a nursing professor in higher education, I made the decision to leave my full-time instructor position to work exclusively as an adjunct faculty member at a university. I taught several graduate and undergraduate courses simultaneously. I also taught an NCLEX review course for a test prep company during breaks.


After gaining additional teaching experience, I applied to an adjunct faculty position at my undergraduate nursing alma mater again. The nursing department offered me the position! I continued to teach didactic as an adjunct in their traditional and accelerated undergraduate programs for one year. I was then hired as a full-time Instructor of Nursing for the next academic year. In 2019, after completing most of my EdD coursework, I applied for a promotion. I recently became an Assistant Professor of Nursing, which is truly my dream job!


Ignite:

What is your workday like?


Heather:

My typical workday usually begins with answering emails from students and clinical faculty. Later that day, I might be teaching senior nursing students advanced medical-surgical nursing concepts such as shock, as well as holding office hours. On days when I am not teaching, I typically attend committee meetings or make rounds at clinical sites. I also try to facilitate and observe simulations for my courses as much as possible.


Ignite:

Looking back, what moment or piece of advice had the greatest impact on your professional development?


Heather:

My family owns a business making auditorium seating and stage curtains. Growing up, I observed how my father worked relentlessly to make his dream of owning his own business a reality. I am a first generation college student because of his efforts and success. This experience has made me tenacious and motivated to advance my own career.


Ignite:

How have you grown from an important mistake?


Heather:

After a negative experience with a mentor, I found it difficult to trust colleagues. My journey in nursing education has been a relatively solitary one. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and should have asked for help, but I did not reach out. When I started my current position, I met supportive colleagues who have given me valuable advice. I have grown to realize the importance of mentorship, and hope that I can help beginning nurse educators get started in their careers in academia.


Ignite:

When did you realize you were where you wanted to be and how did you feel?


Heather:

I realized that I was where I wanted to be when I was invited to be a part of the nursing department’s simulation committee. Revising the department’s mission and vision for simulation made me feel like my input and expertise were valued. Collaborating with colleagues to create a new future for our department excites me!


Ignite:

If a nursing student approached you and asked for your advice, and you had just a few moments to engage with them, what would be your best tip?


Heather:

Keep holding onto your “why” or the reason you want to be a nurse. It will keep you moving forward when you feel like you want to quit.


Ignite:

Is there anything else you would like to share?


Heather:

I became a nurse educator at an early point in my career. I realized I wanted to be a professor as a new graduate nurse, and set up a plan to reach my goal. If you are interested in becoming an early career nurse educator, stay focused on your goal but be flexible about how you get there. Say yes to every teaching opportunity possible. Each experience will help you hone your craft.


Connect with Heather

Heather can be reached via Twitter @Magenta173