Posted on Dec 15, 2020

College of Nursing Alumna Leads a Campaign of Caring

College of Nursing Alumna Leads a Campaign of Caring

Leadership seems to come naturally to Janet Fansler, DNP, RN, CENP (MSN ’88), who retired recently from her role as Executive Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive at Lakeland Regional Health.

Beginning her career as a nurse in emergency and critical care in her native Columbus, Ohio, she never shied away from a challenge. After arriving in Florida in 1985, Fansler was managing the pediatric emergency department at Tampa General Hospital when she began her master’s in nursing at the University of South Florida. For her, the MSN degree from the USF College of Nursing provided a broader, conceptual perspective for advanced practice that strengthened her leadership skills.

One memory that stands out was when Dr. Candace Burns asked students to create personal wellness plans, emphasizing that nurses can only provide the best care to their patients when they have first taken care of themselves. Lessons like these gave Fansler a strong foundation for her development as a nursing leader—someone who understood how to support fellow nurses so they could provide an exemplary experience for their patients.

Over the years, Fansler has made her mark throughout the Tampa Bay health care community. After graduating from USF, she served as the chief administrative nurse at a 180-bed hospital in Polk County for four years before joining Lakeland Regional Medical Center as a vice president. In 2007, she was promoted to Chief Nurse Executive and in 2011, she was promoted again to Executive Vice President.

Learning has been a lifelong journey for Fansler, as health care evolves constantly. While she most recently earned her DNP from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2014, she notes that nursing education is both formal and acquired on the job.

At Lakeland Regional, she was proud to watch the staff learn and grow from new hires into expert practice nurses, then bloom into skilled managers. “They are providing the great leadership that ensures the best quality of care,” she said. “Patients and families experience the best outcomes when they feel cared for.”

Even in her retirement, Fansler has remained a leader in the nursing community through her connection to her alma mater. Earlier this year, she joined the new College of Nursing Dean’s Alumni Advisory Board.

“It’s a privilege to participate, learn more about what’s going on, and give input,” she said. “We want to have the best health care for our community.” This year, Fansler is giving back to USF not only with her time but with a generous challenge match for the third annual Leaders in Care campaign.

“Leaders in Care speaks to my heart,” she said. “It’s a blessing to be able to support the campaign this year. What a tremendous opportunity for alumni and friends to support Bull nurses while making the community better.”

Reflecting on the impact that the USF College of Nursing had on her career, she said, “I got a great education that helped me—not to do well for myself, but to help others.”

In this way, she is truly a leader in care: her lifelong pursuit of education and her remarkable career have been not for the sake of her own advancement, but to expand her capacity to help others.

– USF Health Development and Alumni Relations