Looking at Us: Ellen ‘Bleeds Blue’ Benson, OR Nurse Manager

More than 11,000 surgeries are performed here every year from foot surgery to brain surgery which takes a lot of coordination and planning to make sure patients get the best care possible. A key reason our ORs run smoothly and efficiently is the dedication and tireless work of nurse manager Ellen Benson. She’s worked at UConn Health for the last 28 years. Ellen lives in Harwinton with her husband of 36 years. She has three grown children.


Ellen Benson, screen shot from video by Frank Barton and Ethan GiorgettiEllen Benson

Favorite book:
I was never much of a reader, but I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe when I was a kid, weird little short stories, they were great for my attention span at the time

Favorite movie:
I love Harry Potter and Indiana Jones movies.

Favorite time of year:
I love the fall. The cool crisp air, the colors, the smells and the comfort foods (like apple crisp and ice cream). Halloween is one of my favorite “holidays.”

Favorite place to visit:
This is a toss- up. I love the beach and I also love to hike in the woods, no particular location. As long as my family is with me, I’m happy anywhere.

Famous person you’d most like to meet:
Colin Powell. I read his autobiography and was amazed at his life story, the places he has traveled, the work he did, the people that he knew. I would also have loved to have met and worked with Florence Nightingale – she is my hero!

Something about you today that your younger self would never believe:
That I would love my job even more today than I did when I first started and that I would be the manager of the OR.

Why did you become a nurse?
I went to a career fair when I was 18 years old and was introduced to the surgical technology profession. I grew up butchering chickens with my grandfather, so I thought – I can do that job! I worked for about a year full time and then realized I could do more, so my husband encouraged me to go to nursing school.

How did you end up being the OR nurse manager?
I worked for nearly 19 years from 3 to 11 p.m. as a staff nurse. That was an extraordinary opportunity because I learned so much. I worked with a small group who really helped each other and it was an awesome environment. Working evenings also gave me the opportunity to be home during the day with my children. It was the perfect work/life balance for us. When my youngest daughter was in high school, my husband said it was time to switch shifts. It just so happened that the assistant nurse manager position opened up. I had never thought about going into management but I thought that it might be a good move for me. I got the position and learned many new skills. When the manager position became available, a few people encouraged me to apply. Much to my surprise, I was hired for the position and have been the manager for almost five years now.

What has been a major milestone in your career?
I earned my bachelor’s degree about a year ago. That was a huge personal achievement! I was highly encouraged to complete my degree by nursing administration and they really supported me through the process. I enjoyed taking classes with the younger students who were fresh out of their associate degree programs. I have worked in the OR my whole life so it was great looking at nursing through their eyes. I ended up being a mentor to quite a few of them and I still stay in touch with them, so that was really a wonderful experience. My husband and children also helped me achieve this milestone, if it weren’t for their support, it would have never happened.

Why do you like working at UConn Health?
It’s just a wonderful place to work. We have this beautiful new hospital and we have great nurses, physicians and support staff to help us fulfill our mission of teaching and caring for the people of the state of Connecticut.

I love coming to work every day. I am proud to be a part of the UConn family.

I really do bleed blue!