As an educator, Elizabeth “Hope” Hinchman is drawn to close-knit, personable environments. It motivated her to become a nurse; it allows her to relate to her students; and it’s how she thrives with her patients and fellow nurses in the hospital. Her ability to connect is a key reason she was named is one of UNLV’s Outstanding Part-Time Instructors of 2022.
Hinchman teaches undergraduate nursing students as a clinical instructor, but she’s no stranger to the Rebel life, having earned three degrees from UNLV ('08 BA Psychology, '15 BS Nursing, '19 MS Nursing). Outside of class, she’s a registered nurse at Sunrise Children’s Hospital.
For Hinchman, there isn’t one specific moment that defines her nursing career. Instead, there are many moments from working as part of a team, as a health care family. Her inspiration is largely fueled by making a daily difference both in a student’s path or a patient’s life.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
Honestly, it was my family, which is in medicine in one way or another. My parents are doctors; my sisters are nurses or managers in the medical field. Another one does behavioral health. I was kind of that off-in-the-wind kid, and then I came back around in my late 20s. They inspired me to do something I loved and would help make a difference.
As a student, you doubled as a nurse apprentice. What was that experience like?
It was great exposure. You have to pass your class to be able to do the things that you do as an apprentice or nurse extern. But just the amount of exposure, you can't compete with that. I did my apprenticeship in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), which is not where I ended up, but it was pediatric-related. I tell my students all the time, ‘Go for those extern jobs,” not only (for) the exposure and the experience they give you, but also it gets your foot in the door at those hospitals. Just like anywhere else, people usually like to hire from within, so it's helpful on multiple levels.
When did you start thinking that you wanted to teach?
When I was in nursing school for my undergraduate (degree). My instructors made a remarkable impression on me all through nursing school. Their devotion to teach and wanting (their) students to learn was just inspiring. I knew coming out of nursing school I definitely wanted to go back and get my teaching degree.
What motivates you teaching your students?
Just their excitement. At the clinic, they do these care plans and they see all this information written down. When they actually get to apply it and begin that critical thinking process, it's so fun to see, (as well as the) impact they make once they graduate. I have a couple of students who are graduating or who are nurse externs or apprentices. I keep in contact with a lot of them, and they'll text me, “Guess what happened? Guess what I did?” — and that's fun for me.
Describe your teaching style.
I think it helps that I tell a lot of stories to give (students) a way to identify what they're learning in the lab or in lecture. We do a lot of what we call front loading, (where) we're in the lab for the first seven weeks, and they don't even touch the patient until week eight or nine. I tend to (share) stories and bring in ways for them to affiliate or connect the information to real-life scenarios. I'm lucky I get to teach in the lab because it is all hands-on. You get to put the book into practice.
What are the intangibles you need as a nurse?
A good support system both at home and in the workplace. The people I work with at Sunrise, they are my family, and I know I can rely on them. It’s very team-based, very family-oriented. Everybody helps each other, and that makes a difference. Same thing at home — we all see some horrific things, and it can be hard and daunting, but to have that support system to come home to is nice.
A memorable experience from working at Sunrise.
There were two little kids I bonded with because they were there for quite some time. One was there for about three years and another one was there for at least a year. One didn't have a family and (the other) didn't have a family that was there as often as they would like. I made a great bond with those kids. I probably got them in trouble, keeping them up late at night, just running down on the hallways, playing games, but they're in the hospital, and I wanted to make it as best of an experience as humanly possible.
Name something about nursing most people might not realize.
You get dirty. I think everybody knows that. Again, it's a team effort, and sometimes nurses do the dirty work just as much as anybody else. So, don't think you're going to come in and not have to do some of the dirty stuff.
Do you feel from the time you were a student to now as an instructor, the gap has been closed even further between nursing school and the real world?
Yes, but not completely closed. One thing I do love about nursing is you could go to the floor every day and experience something new and different. But there's a little bit of nervousness or anxiety. I always tell my students a little anxiety is good because it keeps you alert and motivated. Too much anxiety is detrimental.
You once helped create a charitable organization called Revolution Charities. Can you talk about that?
At the beginning of college, I had a group of buddies I worked with at the Bellagio Las Vegas. We were all lifeguards and pool attendants at the time. Most of us are from Las Vegas, and we wanted to be able to give back to the community that gave us so much. So, we started Revolution Charities. We were trying to figure out how to raise money for various charities. Essentially, we'd go out and we'd pick something we wanted to help try and raise money for awareness, and then we would host an event for them.
Who are your role models?
For sure, my parents and grandparents because of their love for people and their work ethic. They work harder than anybody I know, and they’re incredibly selfless. I idolize that and strive to follow in their footsteps.
A song that means the most to you.
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston. It's one of my favorite songs. I told my fiancé we're coming down the aisle to that.
What's your guilty pleasure TV show?
It's probably “The Big Bang Theory.” I've seen it like a hundred times.
If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be?
Abraham Lincoln, for sure. Talk about somebody that stood up for the right thing and did the right thing, even against popular opinion — what an incredible thing to do.
What would you love to do if it wasn't nursing?
This is one that everybody says, (but) I love to travel. I took my grandmother to Europe (five years ago); we went to London, France, Wales, and we hit every castle, every historical spot that we could get our hands on. It was cool to see all the different stuff. But if I had to go back every time, Hawaii. Get me on that beach.
Do you believe aliens are real?
For sure. This universe is way too big for us to be the only living things out there.