Need a doctor?
A Champion for Nursing Excellence in Delaware
Today’s healthcare workplace challenges call for leaders willing to face pressing issues, foster change, and nurture an environment that helps both patients and nurses thrive. Up to those tasks — and more — is Bayhealth’s Stephanie McClellan, MBA, MSN, RN, CMSRN, NE-BC. Her role as the new president of the Delaware Nurses Association (DNA) allows her to put her high goals for the profession into action.
“My passion is nursing,” said McClellan. “I believe that nurses should work towards continual advancement. It's our duty to help patients achieve their health goals and access high-quality care.”
McClellan, who is Cancer Institute Manager at Bayhealth Cancer Center, became DNA president in January. But she has been making a difference in nursing in the state for some time. She served on the Delaware Organization for Nursing Leadership (DONL) board for five years, from January 2017 to December 2021. Through that service, she became active in nursing advocacy, working with Delaware legislators to bring about change and make things better.
Fueled by her DONL experience, McClellan holds up high standards for nurses.
“Anyone can have a nursing license,” she said. “The challenge is to not allow yourself to become complacent. We have to continue to move the needle and make a positive difference.”
Joining Bayhealth colleagues (Dennise Washington, clinical nurse specialist, and Gifty Boateng, nurse manager) on the DNA board, McClellan loves that her involvement with the association has allowed her to amplify the voice of nursing to help transform healthcare. And, in her leadership role, she’s determined to advocate for nurse compensation and education as a part of championing better patient care.
“My role with the DNA has allowed me to ensure the state’s nurses receive vital support such as preceptor tax credits and education for mental health and substance abuse,” McClellan said.
McClellan’s Path to Nursing
McClellan’s passion for nursing and developing great nurses was fueled by choices early in her education and career. Although she started with the goal of becoming a doctor, she switched to nursing because she believed she had a better chance to make a difference in that role. A year after starting her career at Bayhealth (where she remains since 2011), she began working in an adjunct capacity at Delaware Technical Community College (Delaware Tech) to help foster clinical learning with nursing students.
How She’s Inspiring Future Nurses
“I tell my students, ‘Nursing is a profession. A calling. It’s a serious job. You’re directly touching someone’s life,’” said McClellan.
Her passion is clearly catching on: many Delaware Tech students have reached out to McClellan to say they want to be part of the Delaware Nurses Association (which is affiliated with the American Nurses Association).
McClellan believes that students respond to a strong role model, and strives to be that to those she teaches.
“I try to be a source of positivity and encouragement in my interactions, words, and how I live,” said McClellan. “It’s how I put my values into action.”
“Those we train should see our values shining through and find inspiration for themselves,” she added. “I want students to see that they, too, have the ability to make a positive difference in others.”
About Her Leadership of Delaware Nurses Association
So far in her work with the DNA, she’s been able to bring important topics to the forefront — topics rooted in the association’s 2023-25 strategic plan. Among those topics is racism in nursing, which McClellan helped the DNA explore — the DNA Membership Assembly event in April focused on the topic and featured guest speaker, former ANA president Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN.
“The DNA is committed to understanding and hearing from nurses of color about how they’ve been impacted by racism,” said McClellan. “This knowledge will help us take action to inform policies and practices, in order to address and eliminate systemic racism in Delaware and within the nursing profession.”
McClellan noted that the DNA is also working with Delaware lawmakers and Congress to address workplace violence and create enhanced penalties when violence against healthcare workers occurs.
“There is active legislation on this topic both in Delaware and nationally,” she said. “The DNA is committed to addressing workplace violence in a proactive manner and ensuring that the community is educated and has the necessary knowledge to help prevent these acts from occurring.”
Her Strategy for Success
McClellan has a clear vision for how she believes she and her colleagues in the DNA can improve the profession and ultimately better serve patients. Her guiding principles include:
- Focus on excellence. This mindset encourages all nurses to achieve greatness.
- Don't be afraid to lead with your values at all times.
- Everyone's voice is important and, together, we can impact positive change for healthcare.
Have questions about the Delaware Nurses Association and how to get involved in it? Please reach out to Stephanie McClellan via email.