As an educator, Elizabeth “Hope” Hinchman is drawn to close and pleasant environments. This motivated her to become a nurse; this allows him to identify with his students; and this is how she thrives with her patients and fellow nurses at the hospital. Her ability to connect is one of the main reasons she was named one of UNLV’s Outstanding Part-Time Instructors in 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 is a registered nurse at Sunrise Children’s Hospital.
For Hinchman, there is no specific moment that defines her nursing career. Instead, there are many moments of working together as a healthcare family. Much of his inspiration is fueled by making an everyday difference in both a student’s journey or a patient’s life.
What prompted you to become a nurse?
Honestly, it was my family, who are in medicine one way or another. My parents are doctors; my sisters are nurses or executives in the medical field. Another deals with behavioral health. I was kind of this kid out of the wind, then came back in my late twenties. They inspired me to do something I loved that would help make a difference.
As a student, you doubled as an apprentice nurse. How was this experience?
It was a great exhibition. You need to pass your class to be able to do the things you do as an apprentice or external nurse. But just the amount of exposure, you can’t compete with that. I did my apprenticeship in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), that’s not where I ended up, but it was related to paediatrics. I tell my students all the time, “Go for those outside jobs,” not only (for) the exposure and experience they give you, but it also gets you your foot in the door of those hospitals. Like everywhere else, people generally like to hire internally, so it helps on many levels.
When did you start thinking you wanted to teach?
When I was in nursing school for my undergraduate (diploma). My instructors made a remarkable impression on me throughout nursing school. Their dedication to teaching and wanting (their) students to learn was nothing short of inspiring. I knew that when I got out of nursing school, I absolutely wanted to go back and get my teaching degree.
What motivates you to teach your students?
Just their excitement. At the clinic, they make these care plans and they see all this information written down. When they get to apply it and start that critical thinking process, it’s so much fun to see (as well as) the impact they have once they graduate. I have a few students who are graduating or who are extern nurses or apprentices. I keep in touch with a lot of them, and they text me, “Guess what happened? Guess what I did?” – and it amuses 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 are learning in the lab or in class. 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 the eighth or ninth week. I tend to (share) stories and offer them ways to affiliate or connect the information to real life scenarios. I am lucky to be able to teach in the laboratory, because everything is practical. You can put the book into practice.
What intangibles do you need as a nurse?
A good support system at home and at work. The people I work with at Sunrise are my family, and I know I can count on them. It’s very team-oriented, very family-oriented. Everyone helps each other and that makes a difference. Same at home – we all see horrible things, and it can be difficult and intimidating, but having that support system to come home to is nice.
A memorable experience working at Sunrise.
There were two little kids that I bonded with because they had been there for a while. One stayed there for about three years and the other for at least a year. One had no family and (the other) had no family who were there as often as they would like. I created a wonderful bond with these children. I probably got them in trouble, keeping them up late at night, running around the halls, playing games, but they’re in the hospital and I wanted to make it the best experience humanly possible.
Name something about nursing that most people might not realize.
You become dirty. I think everyone knows that. Again, it’s a team effort, and sometimes the nurses do the dirty work as much as anyone else. So don’t think you’re going to come in and not have to do some dirty things.
Do you feel that from when you were a student until now as an instructor, the gap has narrowed even further between nursing school and the real world?
Yes, but not completely closed. One thing I love about nursing is that you can go upstairs every day and experience something new and different. But there is a bit of nervousness or anxiety. I always tell my students that a little anxiety is good because it keeps you alert and motivated. Too much anxiety is detrimental.
You once helped start a charity called Revolution Charities. Can you talk about that?
Early in 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 find a way to raise money for various charities. Basically, we would go out and choose something we wanted to help raise money for awareness, and then host an event for them.
What are your role models?
Of course, my parents and my grandparents because of their love of people and their work ethic. They work harder than anyone I know, and they’re incredibly selfless. I love it and strive to follow in their footsteps.
A song that means the most to you.
“I want to dance with someone” by Whitney Houston. It’s one of my favorite songs. I told my fiancé we were walking down the aisle for this.
What’s your guilty pleasure TV show?
It probably is “The Big Bang Theory.” I’ve seen it a hundred times.
If you could have dinner with one historical figure, who would it be?
Abraham Lincoln, no doubt. Talk about someone who stood up for the right thing and did the right thing, even against popular opinion – what an amazing thing to do.
What would you like to do if it wasn’t breastfeeding?
It’s the one everyone says, (but) I like to travel. I took my grandmother to Europe (five years ago); we went to London, France, Wales, and we visited all the castles, all the historic places we could get our hands on. It was cool to see all the different things. But if I had to go back every time, Hawaii. Take me to that beach.
Do you believe aliens are real?
For sure. This universe is far too big for us to be the only living beings.