Adele Webb Assistant Dean, External Relations & Partnerships

Adele Webb became a nurse because she believed in helping others.

When she was in her teens and her grandmother fell ill, Webb became her part-time caretaker. “I’d come home from high school and care for her for half the day,” Webb, now the Assistant Dean, External Relations & Partnerships for Capella University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, recalls.

At age 29, after she’d gotten married and her kids were all in school, Webb enrolled in a nursing program and earned her degree. Her instructors taught her that nurses not only cared, they were also selfless—putting others first in almost every situation.

Webb was shaken by an encounter she had with a patient in the early 1980s. When a woman in her care revealed that she had HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, she recoiled. At the time, little was known about the virus, except its potentially deadly consequences. There was no treatment available. In most cases, exposure to the virus ended badly. Professional organizations had even begun permitting nurses to opt out of caring for individuals with HIV/AIDS. “Nurses wouldn’t draw blood from patients with HIV,” Webb recalls. “They would slide food trays under doors so they wouldn’t be exposed to the virus.”

But Webb was shocked by her own reaction. “I was appalled that I would be more concerned about protecting my safety than in caring for my patient,” she says. “It was my professional duty to care for her no matter what.”

Refocusing Her Career

The situation moved Webb to learn more about HIV/AIDS and to educate herself on safety measures that nurses could take to protect themselves. She became a passionate advocate for educating nurses about the disease. Her expertise ultimately led to work for the World Health Organization, and she began educating nurses around on the world on protocols for dealing with HIV/AIDS.

Webb found she had a talent for educating other nurses. Her expertise expanded to other infectious diseases—tuberculosis and malaria—and she continued working internationally. To date, she has spent time working in over 40 countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) tasked her with developing curricula for educating nurses—expanding their capacity to treat conditions ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular disease with the best tools available to them.

Coming to Capella

Webb’s passion for education ultimately led her to Capella, where she serves as Senior Academic Director of Workforce Solutions. To succeed, nurses need the kind of educational background that allows them to step into today’s workforce and hit the ground running. To that end, more than 600 organizations—including corporations, health care organizations, and community colleges—invest in their employees by partnering with Capella to offer discounted education programs. The aim is to help every nurse practice at the top of their profession by providing accessible, meaningful pathways to advanced nursing education.

Webb took the position in 2017 because she wanted to make sure employers support their staff by providing a variety of education benefits that can ultimately help patients and the health of our communities. “As part of my job, I draw on my national and international experience in nursing to develop and present topics of interest to our partners, adding value to our relationship,” Webb says. “I also serve as the Capella liaison to nursing professional organizations. As the subject matter expert on a wide variety of emerging issues in health care, I provide education to our Capella team as well as to the wide range of nurses in our partner hospitals.”

The move into a new area also fits with Webb’s approach to her career. In the past, whenever something caught her attention or seemed important, she moved in that direction. “You have to find your passion,” she says. “And then you have to be daring enough to follow your passion.”

Find out how Capella University takes part in shaping the future of nursing.


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