VIU Professor Carla Tilley's Journey as a Life-long Learner

carla Tilley VIU's nursing program

March 29, 2019 - 12:15pm

VIU’s Professor of Science in Nursing Carla Tilley is the epitome of a life-long learner. 

“My kids often ask me, ‘mom, when are you ever going to finally graduate?’” she says. 

During high school, Tilley took college courses on evenings and weekends. When she graduated from high school, she also graduated from college with a diploma in Early Childhood Education. 

Tilley began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher and K-12 Learning Resource Support worker before transitioning into supporting students with special needs who were being integrated into the mainstream school systems and then moving onto assisting adults with special needs. 

“When I began working with adults with special needs I realized I didn’t know enough about their medical needs in order to design programs and supports to assist them in the best possible way.,” Tilley says. 

To further her knowledge, she to applied to a nursing program and a paramedic program. Tilley received both acceptance letters on the same day but decided to pursue nursing as it was more relevant to her interests. She enrolled in full-time studies while she worked full-time and raised her four children with her husband. 

“We would do all of our homework at the dinner table together,” Tilley says. “Education has always been a driving force in our family.”

Following graduation Tilley accepted a job in Northern Alberta in order to gain experience working with Indigenous communities and learn about their perspective of health and wellness. She worked in numerous small community health care facilities where she was the emergency nurse, general surgery nurse, and trauma care nurse. 

Throughout Tilley’s career path, education has always been at the forefront.  She is currently finishing up her second set of doctoral studies to earn a doctorate in education. 

Tilley came to VIU more than six years ago to chair the Licensed Practical Nursing program to assist with the transition from a 1-year certificate to a 2-year diploma program. For the past four years she has been an instructor for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, has sat on several Senate Committees, and worked with the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning to improve ways of teaching in the classroom. 

“I am a bit of a rule breaker. I don’t believe in blindly following the status quo,” she says. “We need to be constantly challenging the ways we are teaching by approaching it from a student perspective.” 

Tilley believes everyone has the capacity to learn and as a professor her responsibility is to create the pathway to learning for students. 

“I will try a thousand different methods of teaching if it means I am able to connect a learner to the content so they can gain confidence in their ability to learn.” 



Rae-Anne Guenther, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250-741-6673 l  C: 250-619-1088 l E: | T: @VIUNews


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