Passion/Personal: Dr. Alpert's nursing career spans over 44 years of practice. In this time she has continued her education and growth becoming an FNP and culminating in a position as a founding dean prior to her tenure at WGU. The reason why she took the position at WGU - she loves students! You can see it in everything that she does. Her outreach is amazing and when you speak to one of her students the feedback is consistent – “she knew I needed her before I knew it!” She serves as a mentor, coach, and subject matter expert for her students on a consistent basis. Although she has her calendar if a student needs her she meets them where they are. Her uncanny ability to support her students in building not only knowledge acquisition but confidence is such a testament to her passion for nursing education and the love of her students.
Empathy/Excellent/Enthusiastic: Dr. Alpert's excellence in interprofessional skills is demonstrated daily in her ability to see the broad scope of practice. When encountering change, her first response is "What can I do to help?" When we were confronted with the pandemic it required enormous flexibility, presence, and empathy both for our students and our colleagues. There was just so much of everything and everyone was struggling. Literally, she never stated "We can't", "I don't see how we can" or any other indication of resistance. She worked tirelessly to support the alternative clinical activities, she reached out to support her colleagues as they coped with the changes, and all the while she was working with her students to assure they were able to keep moving forward. In the midst of all of this, she applied to chair the admissions committee for the FNP program. Her rationale "I want to share my expertise to help get this important program off the ground!"
Trust/Teamwork: If you speak to her colleagues that work with her on her mini team, they will all quickly identify her as their go-to person. Her kindness and nurturing attitude radiate from her actions on a daily basis. It doesn't matter how busy she is, she finds the time to listen and support when others need them. When we were working through the process of the alternative clinical activities, her team members were really struggling with having to assume very quickly a dual role of both preceptor and course instructor. There was some resistance to the process which was causing a barrier to moving forward to get the activities opened up. In a meeting with the group, she calmly explained the implications from a system perspective for group consideration. She moved the discussion from individuals being fearful and fixed in their mindset to support her team toward the growth that was needed at a critical point for our students. Her mini team and our team at large value immensely her wisdom and professional attitude that supports our team.
Accountable/Acts: Our team had gone through enormous changes in a very short amount of time. I became a new manager, we had a team member leave, our team was broken up into mini teams so that CIs were no longer responsible for all courses but just a few courses in the specialty tract. Students due to the change in CI responsibilities had to undergo changes in course instructors. Then the pandemic hit and more change was required. Working in the dual role of CI and preceptor for field experience and the capstone was challenging and required a great deal of flexibility as processes were developed to support the students. Dr. Alpert worked tirelessly to identify not only gaps but solutions for the gaps. Whenever bringing a challenge forward it was typically framed with "I have noticed this as a barrier and it is impacting the students. This is how I think we can fix it." When caseloads got high, we were able to acquire more staff. As the new CIs came on board and were open to students, I offered to the mini team to move students to these other CIs to balance caseloads. Dr. Alpert's response "I want to keep all my students. I know them and they are used to working with me. I don't want to give them another change to deal with." This behavior is typical for her as she always operates from the students and what she can do to support their efforts.
Leader/Learner: This can easily be demonstrated by her CV. But let me provide several recent examples that clearly demonstrate that she works hard to maintain her commitment to lifelong learning. Dr. Alpert has done a great deal of research in the area of Vitamin D. This was found to be potential support for individuals who might experience COVID-19. As soon as this came to light she prepared a presentation for our team with a pre and post-test to assure we learned what we were supposed to learn! Then she took her presentation on the road so to speak and shared it with Team XXXX when XXX asked if she could present the information to her team as well. When she is working with her students and they come upon a challenging concept, her strategy is to give them real-world examples so they can see the implications for their future practice. To keep herself engaged in her FNP practice her continues to work in a clinic for several hours per week (this has been temporarily suspended due to COVID). She also participates in a writing circle with her mini team. She and her colleagues have set a goal that they will get an article published within the next year!
Selflessness/Student Centric or Student Obsessed: I believe that the previous information has supported Dr. Alpert's stance of putting her students and her team first in everything that she does. It is so difficult to identify just one thing that highlights these attributes as I truly believe that this is part of her core. She is the first person to provide congratulations for successes, she always works to support her team, ending emails with "Have a great day!" She responds to each individual's post whether it is an announcement or in the water cooler for things like birthdays, anniversaries, or special events. When it comes to her students a review of her call log demonstrates it all. While other course instructors run in the 100ish calls per month, Dr. Alpert runs in the 275ish range. When asked about why her call volume is so high, she humbly responded "An email is two dimensional. I want to be sure if my students have a question they have the time to ask it and then they can hear me and see how much I care and support them." She doesn't see this as extraordinary at all. That is truly what makes her so deserving of this award. Dr. Alpert serves as a role model for nurse educators everywhere and because of her caring attitude her students leave our program with an increased level of enrichment that they can bring forth into their future practices.