Faculty Spotlight: Theresa Libershal

"I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse," reads a small plaque of a Florence Nightingale quote on Theresa Libershal's office bookcase.

Through both hands-on nursing practice and teaching others the art and science of nursing, Theresa Libershal lives the tenets of the caring profession she's made her career.

She earned her RN at Maryland General Hospital, a BS in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University, an MA in Management with a focus in Health Care Administration from College of Notre Dame Maryland, and a Post-Master's Certificate in Nursing Education from Drexel University. Before coming to Harford in the spring semester of 1997, Theresa spent 18 years working at the bedside and in management roles at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She also worked at Stella Maris offering home and in-patient hospice care, eventually rising to the Director of Hospice and Home Care Services position and making steady use of her management degree. Maintaining her connection with Johns Hopkins, she taught nursing skills for several summers in the BSN accelerated program at the School of Nursing.

She demonstrates her commitment to the community by continuing to provide hospice support care as a volunteer at the Senator Bob Hooper House in Forest Hill. She also helped to serve lunch each week at the Family and Children's Services Medical Adult Day Care program on campus until its 2017 closing and served as a volunteer parish nurse for many years. She enjoys volunteering for underserved populations through the Harford Family House and United Way of Central Maryland at Project Homeless Connect Harford County, held on campus each January.

Theresa said, "I taught here in the late 90s – a course in clinical – and found that teaching at the community college level really resonated with me. I like the whole philosophy of the community college. I see daily how life-changing this opportunity is for some of our students; they leave with the skills for a profession they can build a good life around." She's been teaching full time since 2004, and is now an Assistant Professor in the Nursing and Allied Health Professions division, teaching Fundamentals of Nursing and Leadership in Nursing courses.

Theresa is a faculty member to whom others routinely look for guidance and mentoring. She is known for her patient and nurturing support of new faculty when they teach a course for the first time. Her colleagues regard her as an out-of-the-box thinker who can be counted on to question the status quo when needed. Her focus on student success is evidenced by her help in tailoring relevant and novel remediation plans for students who are struggling.

One of Theresa's key accomplishments was a Community Health Worker program she developed for employees of the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center that focused on health and wellness promotion for specific populations. The program, inspired by and modeled after a similar program at the City College of San Francisco, continues to this day at UM UCMC.

She is also rightfully proud of the Healthcare Navigator AAS degree program she developed for Harford, for which the College won a League for Innovation award in spring 2016. While the degree program has yet to be adopted by the College, much of the work she put into it has been shared with and incorporated into other healthcare programs in her division.

Theresa received a 2014 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) award, honoring excellence in teaching and leadership and recognizing individuals doing extraordinary work on their campuses. She enjoys professional development opportunities offered by the National League for Nursing and staying up to date with current trends in her ever-changing field by attending conferences on nursing and nursing education. While she very much enjoys teaching in general, she says, "One of the most rewarding experiences is working with first semester students and seeing their confidence grow in their skills and abilities as they progress."

Theresa recently completed simulation team training, which she will implement this semester to target optimal and consistent student learning in simulation. She also makes a point of including technology in her students' learning through collaboration with colleagues to incorporate the newest health care technologies and processes into learning activities.

Her current College service work includes membership on the division's Program Evaluation Committee, HCC's Academic Policies Committee and HCC's Scholarly & Creative Publications/Performances Committee.

Theresa Libershal embodies the qualities of an outstanding nurse and nurse educator. Beyond the high standards of skill, professionalism and student centeredness that her background clearly evidences, she projects compassion, calm, warmth, and heart. Her expertise, caring and contributions to her students, colleagues and community will have a lasting impact for years to come.