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Dr. Ellen Sheppard, president of Carolinas HealthCare System’s Carolinas College of Health Sciences, was recently recognized as a top female leader at the Charlotte Business Journal’s 18th Annual Women in Business Awards Ceremony.
The event honors 25 outstanding women who have made significant contributions to their professions and to their communities during the past year. The recipients were carefully selected from nominations submitted by senior managers, colleagues, friends and employees.
In her role, Sheppard is responsible for leading the Carolinas College of Health Sciences, located on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, and for administrative oversight of the nurse anesthesia program. For two consecutive years, Carolinas College was named the No. 1 two-year college in the nation and consistently graduates top-performing clinicians. When Sheppard joined the College in 1994, it offered just one program – nursing. Today, it enrolls students in 12 different credit and non-credit programs related to Carolinas HealthCare System’s current and anticipated workforce needs.
“Ellen is one of the most effective, strategic leaders I have ever met and always carries a positive attitude and incredible energy,” said Mary Hall, MD, chief academic officer for Carolinas HealthCare System. “The quality education offered at the College is a direct reflection of Ellen’s leadership and commitment to excellence and multi-disciplinary approach to learning. We are proud to have teammates like Ellen lighting the way for future clinicians at Carolinas HealthCare System.”
In 2012, the College’s School of Nursing celebrated a 91 percent graduation rate, one of the highest in the nation, while boasting a near-perfect National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate. For 27 of the last 28 years, 100 percent of radiologic technology students passed their registry exams on the first attempt, and for the eighth consecutive year 100 percent of medical laboratory science graduates passed the national certification exam on first attempt. Also in 2012, the College became one of only eight schools in the nation—and the only one in North Carolina—to offer a post-baccalaureate histotechnology program, 100 percent of whose eligible graduates last year were hired by Carolinas HealthCare System.
Sheppard gives much credit to the rich clinical experiences provided by Carolinas HealthCare System and the role modeling students receive from System preceptors and clinicians. “Our students don’t learn only what’s in textbooks,” she said. “They hear how an inter-professional team communicates, observe innovation in action, and participate in patient safety and infection prevention activities.”
Sheppard focuses on building strong relationships locally and globally, and on providing new opportunities for students. Through the System’s International Medical Outreach Program, she is developing a student experience at a hospital in Belize, where selected students can witness healthcare in a less developed nation and, along with a supervising faculty member, provide education and enrichment to Belizean nurses. Sheppard also initiated the College’s annual Alumni Abroad trip in 2002 to introduce graduates to different parts of the world. “It’s funded by our alumni and strengthens their connection to their alma mater,” she said. “I love seeing their eyes opened to the richness of other lands and cultures. The experience can be life-changing.”
Sheppard, mother of two and grandmother of three, received her bachelor’s in English and her secondary education from James Madison University, her master’s in educational leadership from Tarleton State University, her certification in vocation-related education from Texas A&M University, and her doctorate of education in higher education leadership from Nova Southeastern University. This year she is celebrating 20 years with Carolinas HealthCare System.