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New Face: Rachell Ekroos

A lifelong commitment to help never-served populations is one of the things that drew this nursing professor to her profession.

People  |  Apr 3, 2017  |  By Kevin Dunegan

Rachell Ekroos, School of Nursing (R. Marsh Starks / UNLV Creative Services)

For Rachell Ekroos, being daring means challenging and changing the status quo to improve the lives of those in need and securing the necessary resources that nurture better futures. This rebellious drive helped make UNLV an ideal career choice.

Why UNLV?

UNLV’s commitment to the community, goal for Top Tier status, and support of innovative collaborations impressed me. There is an awe-inspiring energy developing across the community and I want to be an active participant in supporting UNLV’s direction and community collaborations. It is an honor to be embraced by an incredible and committed academic community.

What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked?

“Different, Daring, and Diverse!” Need I say more? Entrepreneurship has been an underpinning of my career, before and after entering the nursing profession. I have worked across diverse business models including for-profit, nonprofit, educational, and government agencies and I’m excited to translate these experiences into a tenure track academic role.

Where did you grow up?

Technically, I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, but do we ever truly “grow up”? Throughout my life, I have reflected on prior time periods and associated all my experiences as part of growing up. I strive to always continue growing as an individual.

What inspired you to get into your field?

I have a lifelong commitment to assist under-served and never-served populations, particularly those affected by acts of violence or disaster. I considered attending medical school, law school, or nursing school. Nursing is the profession that enables me to incorporate my unique knowledge and skill set for enacting change across the domains of clinical practice, policy, administration, research, and education, thereby better serving individuals, groups, communities, and populations.

What is the biggest challenge in your field?

With regard to public health and forensic nursing, the challenges are time, resources, and achieving a shared understanding among the multidisciplinary professionals responding to the needs of the diverse populations we all serve.

Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring?

I question the status quo. Effective system-level change often begins with questioning the status quo and engaging others to do the same. Change is hard, no matter how ethically sound, objective, or relevant the change. Finding oneself in the role of change agent means inevitably becoming the target of frustration, resistance, and sometimes even anger. I don’t know if this constitutes being daring, but questioning the status quo locally, regionally, and on a few occasions nationally, sure felt daring at the time.

Finish this sentence, "If I couldn't work in my current field, I would like to ..."

…work with a foundation that provides resource-challenged communities an opportunity to become self-sufficient and empowered through stable housing free from violence; access to affordable competent health care providers; healthy food choices; education; and, yes, an on-going list.  

Tell us about someone you admire and why.

I admire every person who stops, even for a moment, to help a stranger.

Tell us about an object in your office that has a significance for you and why it is significant."

I surround myself with objects of significance, but there is a common thread — all of the objects remind me to be present, no matter who I am with or what I am doing. Some objects remind of encounters with patients or their families, some remind of moments with loved ones or colleagues, and others remind me of being outdoors surrounded by nature. One item that stands out for me is a small stone weathered smooth by the sand and water. It was given to me by a colleague who picked it up while walking and reflecting about a meeting. She explained how comments I made during the meeting and in a brief conversation following the meeting greatly impacted her perspective and philosophy. We can never truly know how our everyday actions and words affect those around us. It is a daily reminder about being present and thoughtful in both words and actions.

Any tips for success?

Be present, be genuine, and choose to make a difference no matter how big or small. Have a plan and understand that perfection is not a realistic goal. However, in striving for perfection perhaps we can reach excellence. In nursing and public health, the populations we serve deserve excellence.

Pastimes or hobbies?

Nature. Being in nature helps ground me and remind me to always be present. Between the sky, terrain, and the critters (yes, I said critters!), I could not ask for a more perfect surrounding for reflection and relaxation.