Lilly partnership leads to exciting opportunities for University of Indianapolis student

Rebecca Williams Headshot

An ongoing partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) is expanding career directions for registered nurses. Rebecca Williams RN ’20, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in the education track, recently collaborated with the International Children’s Advisory Network (iCAN) in the development of the iCAN’s first original educational curriculum. 

Williams said the opportunity, which was made possible through the University’s partnership with Lilly, “really opened my eyes to the enormity of possibilities a registered nurse like myself is capable of in her efforts to improve healthcare outcomes.”

The curriculum Williams developed is focused on helping youth ages 8-18 learn how to advocate for themselves in their own healthcare needs, to tell their stories and to not be afraid to ask questions. In constructing this education plan, Williams said she was able to pull from her own experience in pediatric nursing and as a clinical instructor to come up with creative and fun learning activities for children based upon developmental stages.

The value of this partnership “gives students opportunities to make an impact in some of the most unique ways imaginable,” she said, adding that it “leads to many innovative creativities that are quite simply making the world a better place.

Williams had mentors both at UIndy and Lilly to guide her along the way. Dr. Tia Bell, assistant dean of nursing, and Dr. Karen Hirsch, assistant professor of nursing, have been supportive of her journey. Both Williams’s primary preceptor, Mary Short, RN, MSN and secondary preceptor, Jill Vaughn, RN, worked “to ensure fulfillment of all aspects of the Lilly Experience and success of my own goals.” Lori Wise, RN and health literacy specialist at Lilly, impacted the experience Williams had during the partnership by assisting her in understanding how patient advocacy impacts health literacy.

Jennifer Workman, RN, MSN, clinical research scientist at Lilly and cofounder of the student program, explained that UIndy students contribute a fresh, unique perspective to the work being done to improve the lives of people around the world. Working with Lilly presents the opportunity for students to learn valuable skills, such as how medicines are made, the role of the nurse in the pharmaceutical industry, and application of clinical and professional skills in a non-traditional setting. 

As a company founded on making life better for patients around the world, nurses are uniquely positioned to represent the voice of the patient in the delivery of new medicines and innovative solutions that meet their needs,” Workman said. 

“Lilly has had the privilege of hosting a number of UIndy nursing students who have contributed to or delivered tremendous value-added solutions over the past four years,” she added. “We are excited about the success of our partnership to date and we look forward to what the future may bring.”

For Williams, the future is bright. Her career goals include continuing in the role of educator. She is open-minded to all opportunities that fit her strengths and passion towards self-advocacy for patients, and is thankful for the opportunity presented in this partnership.

 “I can do more than to help just the patients I care for directly when connected to such opportunities in teamwork and collaboration as what have been provided to me here.”