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Heartland Community College

Heartland Faculty named Nurse Educator Fellows

January 2, 2024

Two Heartland Community College Health Sciences faculty have received fellowship awards to promote nursing education. 

Sara Hollenstain and Crystal Reynolds have each been awarded a Nurse Educator Fellowship from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center (INWC) Advisory Board. 

The Nurse Educator Fellowship was established to help provide resources to train more highly-skilled nurses in Illinois by retaining qualified faculty. Recipients are awarded $10,000. 

Sara Hollenstain, MSN-ed, RN, has worked in nursing for 10 years and in the Heartland Nursing program for two years. Hollenstain was a first-generation college student and a community college graduate. After working in outpatient and inpatient care she found a passion for education while providing teaching for clients with newly diagnosed diabetes. That prompted her to continue her education and achieved her master’s degree in 2020. At Heartland she has been an innovative educator, promoting new learning activities such as virtual reality mental health simulations, collaborative simulation between RN and EMT students and Dedicated Education Unit clinicals. 

Crystal Reynolds, RN, MSN, has been a registered nurse for 10 years and began as an instructor at Heartland in 2022. Reynolds has worked clinically in neonatal ICU, homecare, palliative care, and hospice care. A community college graduate, she obtained a master’s degree in leadership and management in 2020. At Heartland Reynolds has made solid contributions to the nursing program including collaborate simulation with RN and EMT students, and fostering the collaboration with ambulatory and home care sites for student clinical experiences. 

“With these two Fellowships, I am proud to say all full-time Heartland nurse educators have been recognized by the IBHE,” said Susan Carl, Heartland Director of Nursing Education and Associate Dean of Health Sciences. “The Nurse Educator Fellowship is only awarded to those who demonstrate a real dedication toward forwarding the field by sharing expertise that is most often found with practitioners. Heartland is fortunate to have Nursing faculty such as Sara and Crystal who not only have that experience but are motivated to advance their knowledge and share it with future health care professionals.”

The Heartland Community College Nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Admission is selective and is offered annually to new students who qualify. Advanced Placement is also available for Licensed Practical Nurses.

Written by: Steve Fast