A relaxing day at a Florida spring training baseball game for Galen College of Nursing student Michelle Potter turned into a real-life test of her skills when she helped rescue a 75-year-old unconscious fan in the stands.
Relaxing after exams, Potter was attending a Philadelphia Phillies game in Clearwater with family and friends when she noticed the woman shaking and then losing consciousness.
The quick-thinking Potter asked a security guard to call 911 and took control, knowing there was no time to wait.
“I laid her down, and she started breathing again, which was a relief,” Potter said. “I kept on checking her pulse, and she didn’t have much of one. And when 911 emergency medical technicians were on the phone, I communicated everything that I was doing. I did everything that I learned in my classes.”
Paramedics transported the woman to the hospital, where Potter followed up with her new patient.
“I don’t think she realized the gravity of the situation until everyone told her,” she said.
Graduating next year from the Tampa Bay campus with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Potter said she had been told several times that she would make a great nurse. She chose Galen for its innovative simulation labs. Even though Potter is interested in forensic nursing, she said she had tested 100 percent in emergency care in her exams. Nursing runs in the family as her sister is a nurse, and Potter has a strong background in science.
Potter says Phillies fans at the stadium have known her father by name, for his writing and analysis of the Phillies’ minor-league system. Now they know her, too.
“My dad said that people actually teared up afterward because of what I did, and now I’m not just known as ‘Steve Potter’s daughter’ at the baseball games,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t even notice people were watching me. I was just in a zone, trying to help.”
The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in commemoration of Florence Nightingale, and Connie Cooper, EdD, RN, CNE, couldn’t be happier.
“The Year of the Nurse is a very generous concept for all nurses globally because we put in a lot of hard work,” she said. “Whether you’re pursuing a PN, ADN, or BSN, it’s the hardest degree you’ll ever pursue. We face so many changes in healthcare across the country, and we’re ready to stand up and say, ‘Yeah, we deserve it!’ We’re here to ensure the health and safety of our patients.”
Dr. Cooper smiled as she recalled the days when nurses wore the classic white uniforms from head to toe.
“It was a privilege to wear the white uniform back then, and I still have my white cap from Illinois Wesleyan University,” she said. “It was a traditional shape with green and black stripes. The black signified being an RN, and the green indicated my school colors. Also, Florence Nightingale, my idol, wore white uniforms.”
The Illinois native has worked in mental health and as a nursing educator across her home state and Indiana, but she is happy to call Louisville her home. The wife of a college football coach, Dr. Cooper said her career often followed her husband’s tenures.
“When he finally retired and moved to Louisville, I asked him, ‘Can this be our final stomping grounds? I’m done with being a gypsy,’ ” she said, laughing.
Once she moved to Louisville, Dr. Cooper started teaching at a university and eventually learned about Galen College of Nursing from one of her doctoral students who worked at the College. She also was aware of some of Galen’s board members. The College’s mission and its dedication to preparing nursing students for healthcare careers were aligned with her own beliefs as an educator. She became the director of the ADN program and eventually was promoted to her current position as dean.
Cooper sees her role as “keeping an understanding of what our faculty, academic success liaisons, and clinical instructors at our Louisville and Hazard campuses are doing and how I can help them,” she said. “It’s kind of like being a nurse because you’re helping others find solutions to problems. We’re always working together, and I get excited to go to work every day.”
February 11, 2020 – Cincinnati, OH – Galen College of Nursing wants to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to walk in a nurse’s shoes during the “Explore Nursing Pathways” event. The interactive event, which will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, February 24 at the campus, 100 E. Business Way #200, will give prospective students and guests hands-on demonstrations with high-tech simulation mannequins.
These realistic simulators respond while participants take blood pressures, listen to heart sounds, and practice first-aid skills. Nurses will be available to answer questions regarding real-life nursing pathways to enter nursing, career development, and job outlook.
As baby boomers age, veteran nurses are retiring in greater numbers, and the demand for nurses is increasing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career outlook for registered nurses is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Graduates do not have to wonder about jobs after graduation, for many students are fortunate to have secured employment even before they graduate.
Those who are interested in attending the “Explore Nursing Pathways” event may RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Event numbers will be limited to allow all participants to have a quality experience.
About Galen College of Nursing
Founded 30 years ago, Galen College of Nursing is one of the largest private nursing schools in the United States. With a focus solely on nursing education and a mission to expand access to nursing education, the College offers master’s, baccalaureate and associate degree education and practical/vocational nursing (PN/VN) programs to over 6,000 students on its campuses in Louisville, Ky., Hazard, Ky., San Antonio, Tx., Tampa Bay, Fla., Cincinnati, Oh., and Online. Galen is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. For more information about Galen College of Nursing, visit galencollege.edu.
Galen College of Nursing’s student success course, Galen Pathway to Success (GPS), helps future graduates navigate their pathway to achieve a nursing education. Instructor Deborah Kessler, MSN, RN, is one of the driving forces in GPS at the Louisville campus, and she hopes to guide newly enrolled students toward their destination: a degree in nursing. The course is taught in the ADN, LPN to ADN Bridge, and BSN programs.
We talked with Kessler to find out more about her experience in GPS and how it plays a vital role for Galen students.
What do students learn in GPS?
During the first week of classes, we introduce our new students to Galen’s culture and accountability. We let them know that we’re going to be there every step of the way. In addition, we help them with a schedule and create their work-life balance, which includes their study time and time for themselves.
Our instructors help them with the basics of getting accustomed to reading textbooks. Many of our students are registered for Anatomy and Physiology classes, so just opening that textbook can be overwhelming. There are tons of words and unfamiliar terms, so we show them how to tackle the new vocabulary. Students also learn to pay attention to the objectives on the syllabus and graphical information in the text. They also learn how to maximize their time to study.
GPS was created almost two years ago. How successful is the program?
When GPS rolled out in 2018, we saw our attrition rates in our Anatomy and Physiology classes decrease. We see more students succeed in their first two quarters and make it into nursing classes. Retention from quarter one to quarter two and quarter two to quarter three has increased. It’s exciting that we are giving them better skills at the beginning, so they’re more likely to be successful throughout the nursing programs.
Accountability and expectation of the professionalism of nursing are hardwired from the start. The result is a more qualified Galen graduate.
What kinds of resources do you provide to help students acclimate to the College curriculum?
Students will get an orientation to Canvas, so they learn how to turn in assignments and communicate with their instructors. We inform them about our Student Services and various support in case they are feeling overwhelmed.
We do a lot of faculty advising, helping them understand there’s someone who will be there to listen. We try to make GPS very comfortable for them. In the first week, I make sure that my students have my cell phone number, email, and office phone number to make sure they can contact me.
The faculty advising piece is huge because we’re not seen as only the instructor. When they sit down with us face-to-face, we’ll ask, “OK, how did your first exam go?” or send them a note. If they respond, “Well, I didn’t do so well. I need you to call me.” Then, we’ll talk about it and see what we need to do. By the time students take their second exam, we usually see an increase in self-confidence, which will have an impact on retention.
How well do students adjust online with GPS?
In Louisville, our GPS is online, so you might think there is not much camaraderie. However, when I see a student post to our discussion board, “I didn’t do so well on the test,” another student will quickly respond, “Hey, I have the same problem. We can work together!” Our online students are great at building a cohesive network.
What is your advice to instructors who are interested in teaching GPS courses?
We have fine-tuned our program by teaching the fundamentals of literacy and how to take notes. GPS helps instructors improve their other classes because they help students develop the skills they’ll need later in the nursing program. It’s their opportunity to send students into nursing classes with the right expectations. By working with students in GPS, they will have built a teaching relationship with some of the same students.
By teaching GPS, the instructors learn techniques that can help them step up their game in their other classes. Everything you need to teach GPS is right there for you, and you have an incredible GPS faculty support network. We collaborate and share ideas and make the course better together.
Failure’s not an option. We’re here to ensure our students’ success.
What do you like most about teaching at Galen?
I love seeing the ‘aha!’ moments and the passion in these students. I love helping to form our mission of tomorrow’s nursing. Galen gives me a work-life balance that I can have a flexible schedule so that I can concentrate on my family and work. Teaching our students has tapped into my passion.
January 27, 2020 – Louisville, KY – For the third year in a row, Galen College of Nursing is pleased to announce that it has been named one of the 2020 Best Places to Work in Kentucky in the large-sized employer category (consisting of more than 500 U.S. employees). Galen is included with 31 companies that have been selected as winners in this category.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management and ClearPath Mutual Insurance Company announced the 100 companies that made the 16th Annual Best Places to Work in Kentucky list with winner rankings to be revealed at an awards dinner Thursday, April 23.
The selection process, managed by Best Companies Group, is based on an assessment of the company’s employee policies and procedures and the results of an internal employee survey. The competition is a multi-year initiative designed to motivate companies in the Commonwealth to focus, measure and move their workplace environments toward excellence.
Galen’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Vogt said, “Galen College is thrilled to be recognized with this distinction for the third year in a row, especially as we participate in the global celebration of the Year of the Nurse. We are so proud that we have now been recognized in the states of Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, and Texas as an employer where our culture is the highest priority in creating a great place to work and to learn. I’m honored to work with such dedicated employees who strive to make Galen a welcoming and life-changing college for our students.”
About Galen College of Nursing
Founded 30 years ago, Galen College of Nursing is one of the largest private nursing schools in the United States. With a focus solely on nursing education and a mission to expand access to nursing education, the College offers master’s, baccalaureate and associate degree education and practical/vocational nursing (PN/VN) programs to over 5,000 students on its campuses in Louisville, Ky., Hazard, Ky., San Antonio, Tx., Tampa Bay, Fla., Cincinnati, Oh., and Online. Galen is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. For more information about Galen College of Nursing, visit galencollege.edu.
For more details about Best Places to Work in Kentucky, visit www.bestplacestoworkky.com
LiSandra Washington, MSN, MBA-HCM, RN, has always desired a career in healthcare. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Washington moved to Florida with her mother in 1993 and became a Certified Nursing Assistant.
Two years later, she saw an ad in a Tampa Bay newspaper for the Health Institutes of Tampa Bay, now Galen College of Nursing, and decided to advance her nursing education. She completed the Practical Nursing (PN) program and eventually was among the first graduating class of the LPN to ADN Bridge program. After graduation, she was determined to pay it forward to aspiring nursing students.
“The education I received here was solid,” she said. “It was important to our instructors that we became responsible healthcare providers. I wanted to return to Galen and give back what I received.”
Not only is Washington a proud graduate, but her husband, Jevon Washington, BSN, RN, is one, too. Before they were married, the pair agreed to enroll in Galen’s nursing programs together. He has completed the PN, LPN to ADN Bridge, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs at Galen. Today, he teaches weekly CPR classes at the Tampa Bay campus and works as a home health nurse specializing in wound care.
Washington believes her education has given her many options in nursing over the last 15 years. After graduation, she became a director of nursing for a pediatric home care company. Throughout her career, she has been a case manager, hospice nurse, interim program director, pediatric hematology/oncology nurse, and lead research nurse for a children’s hospital in Tampa.
In 2014, she joined the Tampa Bay campus as an instructor and is now an academic success liaison for the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. She also teaches pharmacology classes online and tutors students in pharmacology on-ground and online sections, fundamentals, maternal child, and ATI remediation. Washington is thrilled she is fulfilling her goal of helping Galen students.
“The PN program is an amazing program and a great stepping stone for students because it gives them a solid foundation and opportunity to start working as healthcare providers and find their passion in nursing,” she said. “When they find what they are passionate about, they will work hard and excel in it.”
Washington advises students to grow both personally and professionally.
“I am always encouraged to see Galen graduates making an impact in the healthcare arena and look forward to seeing them pay it forward one day as well in the workforce,” she said. “There are so many avenues for LPNs to pursue in nursing.”
She credits her teaching style to one of her favorite and current Galen professors.
“Mrs. Theresa Kirk made me feel like a strong student and leader. She made her students connect the dots, and the ‘aha’ moments were my best memories,” Washington said. “She’s one of the reasons I came back to teach. When students get that same ‘aha’ moment, I feel as though I have done my job. I consider it a privilege to be able to pour back into them what she poured into me.”
As a final nod to our 30th anniversary, we interviewed Co-Founder Kathryn Mershon to learn more fascinating details about how she and Humana Co-Founders David Jones and Wendell Cherry decided to open nursing schools to address a severe nursing shortage in the late 1980s.
Mershon has more than 25 years of experience as a senior health care executive. For 13 years, she served as a senior officer of Humana and was responsible for developing corporate strategies for quality, consistency, and cost-effectiveness of nursing practice. She founded and served as president of Humana Health Institutes, known today as Galen College of Nursing.
Preparing to ride a bike across the country is a feat that requires training and hard work. Galen College of Nursing Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Steve Hyndman loves an athletic challenge. That’s why he decided to put his trained, hard-working feet in motion last year to pedal across 10 states from May to late July.
“When I was younger, I was running marathons, 10Ks, and 5K road races. As I started getting older and my legs couldn’t really do that anymore, I sat around for 10 years or so, and eventually, I didn’t feel well physically,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something.’ I’m not the kind of person who can just exercise for the benefit of exercising. I need a big goal.”
That big goal turned into training for eight months to ride his touring bike on the TransAmerica Trail. The route includes Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon at the Pacific Ocean. This long and winding trek is a total of 4,216 miles, and it took Hyndman 56 days to complete his journey.
“I’d ride 100 miles one day and 50 miles on another day. It just depended on how I felt,” he said. “I’m used to long-distance and endurance, but it had been a long time since I’ve done something like that.”
He traveled to Virginia and loaded his essentials on his 80-pound bike, including a tent, sleeping bag, cookstove, and bear spray for any wilderness encounters. Luckily, Hyndman didn’t have to use any of the bear spray, but he saw moose, elk, buffalo, and other animals along the way.
He also never used his stove.
“I ate packaged turkey, Beanie Weenies, Twinkies; you name it. I basically lived off gas station food,” he said. “That’s the good thing about riding 80, 100 miles a day; you can eat anything you want because you’ll burn it off.” When he began his road trip, he was 200 pounds. But, after he finished his cross-country bike ride, he weighed 163 pounds.
And then there was the weather. The cyclist said he faced various temperature changes and occasional bouts with thunder, lightning, and hailstorms.
“I remember one day being out in the middle of nowhere, and it was 20 miles back the way I came or 40 miles forward before there was anything, and the storms were horrendous,” Hyndman recalled. “I felt as if the bolts of lightning were coming toward me, and I had nowhere to go.”
He then looked on the map and noticed a railroad track running by the road and a creek crossing the road. He figured if there was a small body of water crossing the way, there had to be a bridge, which was a mile away from him. “I got under the bridge just in time,” he said. “In July, while in Colorado, I spent the night in some of the high mountains, which were 10,000 feet or so. I would wake up the next morning, and my hands were freezing. I didn’t realize that even in mid-July, it was going to be cold in the high mountains.”
And, the retired U.S. Air Force officer loved every minute of it.
“If I had time, I would’ve turned around and ridden back,” Hyndman laughed. “When I retire again, those are the kinds of things I want to do, just maybe not 60 days at a time. Once I accomplished the trip, I decided, ‘OK, I proved I can do it.’” Hyndman kept track of his adventure on his blog, SteveAcrossAmerica.com.
The avid cyclist continues to ride between 30 and 40 miles to keep in shape. Hyndman said he plans to hit the road again on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route next year. The 3,083-mile journey is an off-road bike route between Jasper Canada and Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
“It’s supposed to be the toughest mountain bike route in the world. Some of the mountains are so steep that you can’t ride up, so instead, you have to either push or carry your bike up the mountains,” he said. “That’ll be a challenge and it will get me motivated to train again.”
When Humana’s Senior Vice President of Nursing Kathy Mershon wanted to start a nursing college in the Tampa Bay area in 1989, she called on Sharon A. Roberts to lead the charge. More than 50 years after beginning a nursing career that has taken her around the world, Roberts remembers where the initial spark was ignited.
From an early age, Roberts wanted to become a nurse.
“I just wanted to help people and take care of them,” Roberts said. “My grandfather’s death inspired my goal to become a nurse, and I was in sixth grade at the time. I never changed my mind.”
That drive led her to enlist in the Army Nurse Corps, and in 1968, she passed her board exams and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. A few months later, on Christmas Day, she received her first assignment: Vietnam. “I wasn’t even out of nursing school a full year, and I learned so much,” Roberts said. “If you didn’t appreciate the sanctity of life before, you sure learned it over there.”
Roberts spent a year in Vietnam and Germany for two years, where she was the head nurse of a surgical nursing unit. In April 1972, she was discharged from the Army and continued on her nursing education journey to Nurse Practitioner.
While working in St. Petersburg some years later, Roberts received a phone call from Mershon, whom she had met in the mid-1980s and had an ambitious assignment in mind: open a nursing college in Tampa Bay. Roberts became the founding dean of the Tampa Bay campus.
“For the first month, our students were in a medical office building at Humana Hospital Sun Bay. And in that medical office building, there was a conference room we used because we only had one class while we were identifying a larger location for the school,” Roberts recalled.
What was then the Humana Health Institutes Tampa Bay eventually moved into a 6,500-square-foot building. Over the years, the Tampa Bay campus has expanded into a state-of-the-art facility with over 90,000 square feet.
“It was just exciting to be doing something new because there were no private schools for nursing in the area, ” Roberts said. “It was also fun writing the curriculum, and it was a big learning experience for me.”
Roberts said her most significant contribution to the Tampa Bay campus was launching the simulation labs in 2005. She wanted interactive clinical environments where students could get a glimpse of what it was like to work in a hospital with patients.
The campus started with two simulation labs, “and now they’ve got a simulation hospital. That’s what we were moving toward. Galen’s leadership is really on top of all the available educational technologies,” she added.
In 2013, Roberts retired as dean of the Tampa Bay campus. Five years later, the Tampa Bay campus unveiled the Sharon A. Roberts Library in honor of the career and legacy of its founding dean. She now looks back at that career with profound joy.
“From a professional and personal standpoint, I’m proud of many things I have done, but the two that I am most proud of are my service in the Army Nurse Corps and opening the Galen Tampa Bay campus,” she said.
Roberts also shared advice to students who are interested in enrolling in one of Galen’s nursing programs.
“Go visit the school, take a tour, and talk to students,” she said. “When it comes to this profession, you’re taking care of people. It’s not about a procedure. It’s not about giving an injection. It’s not about giving pills. It’s about caring for that human being who’s before you. It’s compassion and understanding of the human condition and all who care about them.”
In honor of November’s celebration of National Native American Heritage Month, we salute the rich contributions of Native American nurses who opened doors for the many nurses who have followed in their footsteps.
One of those trailblazers was Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail, RN (1903-1981), who was an accomplished registered nurse and a tireless advocate for better healthcare for Native people throughout the 20th century. She became the first Native American nurse to be inducted into the American Nursing Association’s prestigious Hall of Fame in 2002.
Born on the Crow Agency reservation in Montana, Yellowtail was an activist who fought to transform healthcare for native populations. After graduating from Boston City Hospital School of Nursing in 1923, she returned to the reservation to work in the Bureau of Indian Affairs Hospital. While working at the hospital from 1929 to 1931, she observed discrimination against Native American patients, including the non-consensual sterilization of Crow women. Outraged, she spent the next 30 years fighting to end abuses in the Native American healthcare system.
In 1962, Yellowtail received the President’s Award for Outstanding Nursing Health Care. She later joined several state health advisory boards, leading to her appointment to President Richard Nixon’s Council on Native Health, Education, and Welfare in the 1970s. The appointments gave her a national platform advocating for the health needs of her people.