Linda Irle: Forward-Thinking Leader Who Never Stops Learning
Linda Irle, DNP, APRN, APP Director, at Carle Health in Urbana, Illinois, knows how to go the distance. Her career spans 32 years in nursing, teaching, and now leading the APP group at Carle Health.
“It truly seems like yesterday. The years go so quickly. It’s been a great profession, and I would do it all over again if asked,” says Irle. “I just have really enjoyed it. I enjoy talking to people. I enjoy working with people, and it’s just a very rewarding career.”
A Career Committed to Teaching—and Learning
She started her career as an RN in OB. Then she went back to get her master’s to become a family nurse practitioner. By then, she was already teaching in the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois and decided to go on for her doctorate.
“I went back for my doctorate because I was teaching at the U of I and just wanted to have that extra degree to teach,” she says.
For 12 years, she taught undergrad courses. She was the clinical coordinator in maternal/child nursing, and she also taught health assessment and professional practice courses. Her commitment to students was unwavering.
“I taught Kaplan the whole time I worked at the U of I because I wanted the senior students to have that continuity—having someone teach Kaplan that they were familiar with, so I taught it along the way. And then also I had my clinical role on the side.”
Her clinical role started in the emergency room and then moved to convenient care, where she continues today.
“Every door you walk into is a surprise, but that’s also the fun part because it’s kind of like putting together a puzzle. You don’t know the person before you walk in, so it’s fun. It makes it very challenging at the same time.”
But that’s not all.
Advancing the Advanced Practice Provider Group with a Positive Provider Approach
Her multidimensional nursing career added another layer five years ago when she stepped into the APP director role.
“It has been fun because I was able to help initiate and grow into the role, and it’s just built along the way. We started with APPs being seen but not heard, and now we’re on the medical executive committee, credentials, policy review, peer review committees. We’re voting members on the majority of them. We also have a very robust APP council.”
“The physician group really supports our APPs, and we have more of a provider mentality. With our onboarding now, it’s physicians and advanced practice providers—it’s all the same process. So instead of having a separate physician onboarding and a separate APP onboarding, they’ve changed it to provider,
so we’re trying to change the terminology to ‘provider’ just to show the value and that we’re all one team.”
Making the Most of ISAPN Resources
A strong nursing team doesn’t do it alone. Irle relies on ISAPN support in her director role and for her team. “We sure at our APP Council always talk about how wonderful ISAPN is, and we recommend all our APRNs join because it’s just a great organization and has so many wonderful offerings that come along with it.
“As a director for Carle Health, I’m responsible for cascading legislative change to our group. So ISAPN helps keep you updated on what bills they’re watching and what bills may pertain to the APRN group, so it’s just nice to know that and be prepared for any upcoming changes.”
Not surprisingly, when given the opportunity to learn something new, Irle jumped at the chance.
“I’m actually on ISAPN’s PAC committee. This year was my first year, which was very helpful. I did a lot of listening this year, and I learned a lot. That’s another positive, though, about a state organization. You can get expertise in areas that you couldn’t go anywhere else for.”
Going the Distance with the APRN Midwest Conference
The annual conference is another one of those opportunities that Irle doesn’t want to pass up. This year, she was the first to sign up for the APRN Midwest Conference.
“I know several years they sold out, and I didn’t get signed up in time, and I was worried it’d sell out again. They’re not going to lose me this year!” She continues, “You’re a constant learner, so regardless of the different topics, I will learn lots of things from each area. It’s invaluable; I think to go to these CEU events. But yes, they always have really well-rounded conferences. They’ve got lots of offerings, and I’ve always really enjoyed their conference.”
She likes to use the conference as an opportunity to learn about complex, ever-changing topics and areas outside of her day-to-day experience.
“You know what, I always like the medication ones—the pharmacology ones—because we have so many people on multiple drugs, and so it’s always nice to hear pharm updates. And I like just the basic primary care, too, because I don’t get to manage chronic illness in convenient care, so it’s always nice just to see what the updates are in regards to chronic disease management.”
Irle sees the virtual aspect of the conference as a real benefit, especially to first-time attendees.
“I think the advice is, with it being virtual, try to listen to it two or three times, because sometimes if you listen to it one time, you miss some things, especially if they’re giving you lots of information. So, you know, I recommend just utilizing the virtual aspect of it.”
She also encourages attendees to be adventurous with their choices and take advantage of all that’s available.
“Even some of the titles you don’t think look interesting, sometimes they end up being the best ones, so just take advantage of all the offerings.”
A Word of Inspiration During Challenging Times
We couldn’t leave a conversation with a forward-thinking leader like Irle without asking how she and her team are managing during this difficult time.
“You know, it’s hard. It is hard. I just want our APP group to know that we’re all a team. We’re all in this together, and definitely, their work-life balance is essential.
“Our goal is always to help our patients. We want them to have good care. We want them to survive this. We want the care to be there for them, but we also don’t want to shadow our own needs and just make sure we take care of us.
“But you know, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this. We got through it the first time. And it makes us stronger and wiser, and more resilient, and there will be a reward and growth from it. It’s just hard going through it.
“You’ve got to hang in there and just keep going. Just face forward and take one day at a time!”