Alumni Profiles: Dr. Zeh Wellington

Jennifer A. Turner
January 16, 2024
Dr. Zeh Wellington

In honor of MUSC’s Bicentennial, MUSC College of Nursing is spotlighting alumni who are magnifying our legacy with their professionalism, passion and purpose.

Alumnus W. Zeh Wellington, DNP, RN, NE-BC is a dedicated nurse leader and educator who is currently the Director of Surgical Services at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and an Adjunct Professor at Illinois College. In fall 2023, he was elected president of the American Nurses Association (ANA) -Illinois. While at MUSC, he was awarded the Operating Room Nurse of the Year as well as named a South Carolina Palmetto Gold Winner, a designation for the top nurses in the state. Dr. Wellington was the recipient of the 2022 Power of Nursing of Illinois: Pinnacle Leader award and the winner of the prestigious Values in Action Award for Compassion at MUSC.

"MUSC’s core values: Compassion, Respect, Innovation, Collaboration and Integrity have led my career to enormous successes - these values are the heart of the institution, and each day I hope to exemplify the core values of compassionate care and leadership." —Dr. Zeh Wellington ’15

What inspired you to pursue nursing? What led you to MUSC?

One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a nurse, to me, is the opportunity to positively impact patients, their families, the hospital, our community, the state and nursing nationally. As a nurse, we provide care, compassion, support and education to patients, their families, nursing students and the community by helping others pilot their health challenges and to be a guiding force on their journey to wellness. Why did I choose MUSC? MUSC’s programs, opportunities, outreach, research, technology and scholarship opportunities provided me a medical university where I was able to grow and develop not just academically but in all aspects of life.

In what ways has your MUSC College of Nursing experience impacted your career and who you are today?

MUSC’s core values: Compassion, Respect, Innovation, Collaboration and Integrity have led my career to enormous successes - these values are the heart of the institution, and each day I hope to exemplify the core values of compassionate care and leadership.

What do you love most about your work?

Joining ANA-Illinois offers numerous benefits and opportunities for growth; ANA is an avenue for personal and professional development, endless networking opportunities and a platform for nurses to take charge of their careers. I believe that strength of nursing lies in numbers and unity, allowing nurses to collectively serve their patients with compassion, empathy and passion. Either working in the hospital setting or teaching, I have a love for our nursing practice. Nurses have the ability to bring understanding and hope during what can be a confusing or challenging time in our patients’ journey to wellness.

As the newly Elected President of ANA-Illinois, what are your goals and top priorities?

As the newly elected President of ANA Illinois, my vision, rooted in courage, unity and compassion, promises to bring about a brighter future for nurses across the state. My leadership reflects the heart and soul of the nursing profession, emphasizing the importance of listening, understanding and working together to address the challenges and celebrate the victories that lie ahead. Applying and using the principles of MUSC to represent all nurses in the state of Illinois, I will meet with representatives campaigning for the rights of nurses and promoting bills at the state and national level that will richly serve the profession of nursing.

I am strongly advocating for the National Nursing Workforce Act (S1150/ H2411). This bipartisan legislation would create a 2-year pilot program to better evaluate the recruitment and retention of nurses. I will lobby representatives to promote an understanding of the value of nurses and healthcare worker burnout, addressing the nurse staffing crisis, and powerfully promoting Congressional Nursing Caucus Membership - gaining two new cosponsors in the House on the National Nursing Workforce Centers Act (H.R. 2411) and the ICAN Act - Improving Care and Access to Nurses Act (H2713). I am committed to building a brighter future for ANA-Illinois. My promise is to continue to be visible, listen, compromise and deliver to the nurses of Illinois a brighter future.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have ever received?

Simon Sinek wrote, “Leadership is not about being in charge – Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” That is powerful. I also draw inspiration from Winston Churchill's words about courage: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, but courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Fun fact about you:

Serving on the ANA-Illinois board, I was excited and honored to learn that three (3) of the board are alumni of MUSC, and we all worked in the MUSC operating room/ surgical services department. Impressive. The values, pillars of success and philosophy of The Medical University of South Carolina is now stretching past the boarders of Charleston and South Carolina reaching nurses across multiple states and the nation.