Inspired to become a nurse by her grandfather, who called her his “little nurse” starting when she was a child, Janice F. Elliott began her studies with a Bachelor of Applied Science in home economics and child development at Kansas State University in 1974. This was followed by an associate degree in nursing at Barton Community College in 1985, graduate level coursework in counselling at Fort Hays State University and Wichita State University, and certification as an end-of-life nursing education instructor. She began her career as a registered nurse with the St. Joseph Medical Center in 1985, where she worked in the physical medicine and rehab unit before coming the role of director of nursing for their retirement wing.
Ms. Elliott attributes her success both to God and to the influence of her grandparents, who she cites as the reason she chose to pursue a career in geriatrics, long term care, assisted living and hospice. Following her tenure at St. Joseph, she joined Overland Court Senior Living as the director of nursing and a hospice chaplain, remaining in these roles until her retirement in 2019. Throughout her career, she considers the most important lesson she learned to be how crucial leadership and education is to the field of nursing. She notes that every day was a learning experience, be that from a formal continuing education course or simply picking up something new while on the job. Nursing is a continuously changing field and keeping up with new developments is incredibly important.
Ms. Elliott made a name for herself as a grounded and down to earth professional whose emphasis on compassion allowed her to skillfully and calmly interact with hospice patients and their families. While she worked with many patients over the course of her career, there are two that stick out to her from early on in her career, because they both sent her letters to thank her for her care. The first was a Vietnam veteran who had sustained two head and neck injuries, one during his service and one after, and it was working with him that helped her to develop her skill in talking to patients that benefited her for her entire career. The second patient was a young man who had sustained a head injury from an ATV accident so severe that they couldn’t keep him on many medications and his bed needed to be on the floor. Ms. Elliot went out of her way to check on him quietly as often as she could, and the man later told her that he always knew it was her because he could recognize the scent of her cologne.
Ms. Elliott is incredibly grateful to the excellent mentors and supervisors she has had over the years. In particular, she recalls her supervisor in the physical medicine and rehab unit, Mike Rogers, who she feels was the best possible supervisor she could have had directly out of nursing school. While she has accomplished much over the course of her career, she considers her greatest professional achievement to be how she has learned to help families deal with the death of a loved one. For her excellence, Ms. Elliott has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades, including being recognized among the Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare by the International Nurses Association in 2015 and featured in The Inner Circle magazine by Inner Circle Executive in 2016.
Remaining active in her retirement, Ms. Elliott has served as an adviser for Destiny Foundation, volunteered with the Red Cross and participated in various events for homeless veterans. In 2019, she went on a mission trip to Tanzania, where she, with the help of two young women who spoke Swahili, taught a group of people aged 103-105. She has also helped to write a land grant for a group in Africa and is currently looking to involve herself more with African orphanages in order to do more to help children. Above everything, Ms. Elliott hopes to leave a legacy as someone who paved the way for others to succeed.