Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and RN to BSN Program Director at South University, Novi, Dr. Anna Czubatyj has been teaching for 20 years and has been a Registered Nurse for over 40. In fact, nursing was something she always knew she wanted to do, she explains, recalling a time when she visited her mother in the hospital as a child.
"I remember this person in a starch white uniform with a hat on who seemed to make my mother feel better. She seemed to have all the answers as to what was going to work to make her healthy," she says. "Somewhere in the back of my mind, that really stuck with me, and I wanted to be that person."
Starting her career as a Staff Nurse in the operating room in 1976, Czubatyj worked her way up at various Michigan hospitals to serve as Nurse Manager, Department Manager, and Director of Surgical Services and Emergency Room. "I still have my first nursing hat—my first bandage scissors, my stethoscope. I put it all in one of those shadow boxes," she says.
Today, Czubatyj has five different degrees under her belt and significant experience in healthcare management, but that wasn't always what she envisioned for her future. "I call myself the late bloomer because originally all I wanted to do was get my associate degree and be done," she says.
Yet when all her peers start returning to school, so Czubatyj did, first earning a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science and then a master’s in Hospital Administration as she moved into management roles.
Still, something was missing. "I didn't feel that I had completed what I needed to do to fulfill my role in life," she recalls. It became her goal to earn a Bachelor of Science of Nursing. After that, she got her Master of Science in Nursing as well, and followed that up with a PhD in Leadership for Higher Education in 2010.
Czubatyj's move into education came after she'd already conducted staff education in several nursing roles. In 1994, she even travelled to Ukraine to teach operating room nursing standards and procedures as part of the Henry Ford Hospital and the American Institute of Health overseas program. A few years later, in 1997, Czubatyj decided to pursue teaching in a college setting. In 2003, she transitioned full-time to academia, where, based on her own experiences, she encourages her students to keep going beyond their first degree.
"My advice is do not stop with your bachelor's degree. Do not stop with just a master's. Continue going to school and learning. It changes you as an individual," she says. "It's not just what you learn in nursing school and being able to do what's needed for patients; it's that you as a person start questioning and looking for those answers and that makes a difference."
As an instructor, Czubatyj strives to create learner-centered environments, where she acts more as a facilitator than lecturer, finding creative ways to engage her students. For example, when discussing medication administration, Czubatyj brings in pill bottles with candy inside to demonstrate the concepts she’s teaching and simulate real-life problems and scenarios. She's also known for challenging her students to delve deeper, so that they never answer a question without also providing the corresponding "why" behind their answer.
As Program Director at South University, Novi, Czubatyj typically teaches courses at the beginning and end of BSN and RN to BSN programs. "I like the students to get to know me, to feel comfortable coming to talk to me, and to see me as a professor but also an everyday person, because I bring in my experiences and what I've done," she says. "I’ve had a challenging road to get to where I am. I tell my students that if I can do it, anybody can, if that is your wish. I can open the doors for you, but you need to be the one to walk through them."