Remembering a Gifted Teacher and Mentor

Thank you for teaching us that nursing is
a profession
that comes from the heart and
always provide care with love and compassion.

–Danielle, a student

Terry PellinoTeresa “Terri” Pellino, PhD’94, RN, beloved teacher, colleague, and School of Nursing alumna, passed away unexpectedly on February 18, 2013. She was fifty-six years old.

Pellino loved being a teacher. She once said, “Seeing students being able to connect what they have learned in class to actually taking care of patients was the best part of my job as a teacher. I love seeing the huge change in knowledge and confidence of students that I see over the two years they are in the nursing program.”

She joined the School of Nursing as a faculty member in 1983, later taking time out to pursue her PhD in nursing and psychology from the UW–Madison. She resumed her clinical faculty role in 2008.

"Terri influenced literally hundreds of nursing students at Wisconsin in powerful and positive ways,” says Dean Katharyn May.

“Terri’s wit and persistent positive attitude was an inspiration to all,” adds Sarah Kruger, MS, RN, clinical professor of nursing and Pellino’s colleague.

Pellino was also a researcher. Her area of expertise was pain management. She taught numerous theory courses within the school’s nursing curriculum, sharing her knowledge gained from 13 years (1994–2007) as senior clinical nurse specialist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, where she oversaw all nursing research as well as research that was interdisciplinary.

Terri Pellino with friend's Great DaneIn 2011, Pellino was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Through months of intense chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and an extensive surgical procedure, she continued to teach. Her students acknowledged her courage through this process as a “model of nursing.”

“Her professionalism and her commitment to nursing and, in the year as she battled cancer, her passion to teach and live her life … students saw that,” Dean May adds. “She did it with grace and style and commitment to be the best. She showed students what courage looked like."

In remembering Pellino, students said that even when she was feeling her worst, she dressed her best. To honor their beloved mentor, students will choose Monday, February 25, 2013, to dress up in memory of her.

Last December, Madison Magazine and WISC-TV3, chose Pellino as one of seven “Madison’s Favorite Nurses 2012,” recognizing them for “going above and beyond the call of duty every single day” in their roles as nurses and teachers. In a related interview, Pellino said that her mentors were “nurses who can take a situation, analyze it objectively, and act upon and lead others to apply solutions. They are confident, assertive and have a strong voice for patients.”

Indeed, Pellino possessed all those qualities that she had looked for in her mentors. Through her courage, wisdom, and mentorship, Pellino tapped the potential in countless numbers of nursing students at the UW–Madison.

–Kathleen Corbett Freimuth

Read more about Terri Pellino and her love of family, friends, and animals. Click on official obituary.

If you would like to make a gift in Terri’s memory, click here and identify gift to be “in memory of Terri Pellino.”

Visit Terri Pellino Remembered on Facebook to post a remembrance.