When Hazard Kentucky native, Krista Ritche, reflects on her Galen experience as an ADN program alumni, she recalls the importance of maintaining the small-town feeling and finding a sense of community in determining where to pursue her nursing degree.
Finding an institution that embodied the same values as Ritchie was an important component of her educational journey. Growing up, Krista was diagnosed with various illnesses and spent a lot of her formative years in hospital rooms and doctor’s offices. “The nurses that took care of me growing up made the greatest impact on how I see myself and who I wanted to become. I just knew that I too wanted to be one of those people and help others feel better in the same way that was done to me.”
After having her two children, Ritchie’s desire to become a nurse became too large to ignore. A few friends suggest Galen College of Nursing. She decided to attend one of our enrollment workshops and recalls the feeling of shock and excitement after arriving on campus.
“When I first stepped on campus, I was welcomed with open arms. I met almost every faculty member that day and felt invested in from the start. I could just tell that they were willing to work with me in any way I would need to be successful,” said Krista.
Krista graduated from Galen in March of 2020. She is currently working “exactly where she should be” in Pediatrics and Labor and Delivery.
“I would say the Galen family didn’t just focus on my education. In my home town, everyone knows everyone in their class and we were all taught one thing. You don’t just become a nurse because you know things. You become a nurse when you care and develop a sense of empathy. My Galen experience engrained the confidence in me to deliver compassionate, empathetic, and quality care to my patients.”
Nakyra Williams is a current student in Galen’s ADN Program at our Cincinnati Campus. There was never a question in Williams’ mind as to what her future career path would look like.
“I feel like nursing is a field you have to be called for. It’s embedded in me to support others and make them feel safe, comfortable, and cared for even in their most vulnerable state,” explains Williams.
After discussing nursing school options with some friends and family, Williams discovered Galen. She noted that the nurses she spoke to who graduated from Galen embodied the values and dedication to patient care that she strived to have. Upon her arrival to our Cincinnati campus, Williams notes, “the atmosphere of Galen was unlike anything else. The smaller class sizes provide me with the opportunity for more one-on-one instruction and my classmates offer me an amazing support network.”
Nakyra notes that the people at Galen have made a huge impact on her nursing education and overall Galen experience.
“I remember when I first started at Galen. I was so afraid to become an outcast or not have any friends. However, you’d be surprised at how close you become with your nursing student classmates! I have met some amazing people that I will keep in my life forever.”
It wasn’t solely her peers that fostered a welcoming and supportive environment, her clinical instructor Mrs. Ellis extended the same level of support inside the classroom. Williams recalls that Ellis makes sure that every day her students leave learning something new.
“Mrs. Ellis makes me feel nothing less than capable of being successful and she always made me feel safe enough to come to her with anything,” boasts Williams.
The clinical experience can be challenging, but surrounding yourself with eager and similar peers makes all the difference.
“Your class will laugh together and cry together. You will probably practice skills on each other too! Believe me, it may feel awkward at first, but your classmates are experiencing clinicals with you and want you to succeed alongside them.”
Nakyra Williams intends to work in the ICU/Critical Care Unit after her graduation in 2023. She offers this piece of advice to her fellow students.
“Despite how tough the program may get or how tough your outside life may get, remember your why and keep on pushing!”
Meet Keith Beckerich, MSN, RN. He has been a clinical instructor for the Galen Cincinnati ADN and BSN programs for a little over a year. Throughout his career, community care, education, and leadership have always been defining traits in Beckerich’s life.
What is the most important aspect of a clinical environment?
Having a controlled environment where students are comfortable and able to learn is imperative. But also, as educators, we must allow them to have freedom too. Having the ability to make and learn from mistakes in a clinical setting is critical to advancing education. My job is to make sure they are doing it safely. So, overall I’d say the most important aspect for a clinical environment is the ability to expand your independence in a real-world environment by actively increasing your knowledge and experience with patient care.
Most unique way you taught a class?
I actually just taught a class last week that was really fun and creative. I was teaching students about Cardiac tamponade – when extra fluid builds up in the space around the heart and it can no longer pump. So, I took a straw and blew up a glove, first with air, and then with water so students can see the halted expansion visually that the fluid can cause. I really think this was a great learning tool as it was a real-world simile as to something they may treat in a patient one day. Moreover, it was really fun and we all had a good laugh throughout the class.
How valuable is Galen’s focus on hands-on education?
Hands-on experience for a nurse is by far the best way that students can learn. There are many careers that you can move through without being hands-on. Nursing is not one. Every nurse will need that experience with patients and their families. You must have that intrinsic value of being able to learn in that way. Most students, I have found, learn best with this method as well.
What were you like as a student?
I was 35 when I began nursing school. I had a background as a medic in the military and as a firefighter. So, I had a lot of basic medical knowledge when I started nursing school. I didn’t need to study or take as many notes as most people around did, but I was that student who held study groups and tutored whenever anyone needed it. I definitely feel that I was a leader in the classroom. It was so rewarding to help my former classmate succeed. I knew I wanted to be a nurse educator from the moment I started school, so by naturally being a leader in the classroom, I knew I was making the right career choice. It really helped prepare me for my time at Galen College of Nursing.
What should students do to stay motivated?
It is up to the instructor to find situations and circumstances that will let the students thrive and learn. You don’t want every lesson to seem boring or mundane. You advance each quarter, and each quarter should be an advancement of what a student can do. Their interest and passion combined with a constantly buildable curriculum will help maintain motivation.
What is your favorite part of being a nurse educator?
There is always a moment where you can see a look on a student’s face when the material just clicks. Seeing that is enough motivation to continue teaching for the rest of my life.
What can a Cincinnati student expect or look forward to at Galen?
We have a great campus with a close and supportive community. Incoming students can expect a challenging, but accomplishable goal in becoming a nurse. There are tons of nursing schools out there, and I would never speak negatively on a school that commits to teaching nursing education. But I will say that I will ALWAYS speak highly of a nursing education from Galen. It is worth it.
What is your advice for those wanting to be a nurse educator?
If you have the passion to do it, just go for it. Try it out by teaching some clinicals and getting experience. There is always a place for nurse educators. You just have to put yourself out there and see what fits you best.
Kameron Owens is a recent graduate from the LPN to ADN Bridge Program at our Cincinnati Campus. Owens’ dedication to the nursing profession has inspired classmates and educators who have had the privilege to work alongside him. Though his time with Galen has come to a close, Owens reflects fondly on the experiences and education he had with the college.
What brought you to Galen?
“Galen’s reputation was the ultimate factor that guided my decision. Friends of mine attended Galen Cincinnati and encouraged me to pursue my RN degree there, due to their strong and structured curriculum. The preparation students are given allows us to be successful in our programs and chosen career paths. “
Why did you feel called to the nursing profession?
“It all began with my grandparents. They were my inspiration because I wanted to be sure that they never had to worry about not having caring support within their health and lives in general. Once I was pulled in, I have not been able to see myself in any other career in this world. I have a natural calling to care for and support others. So many people and patients will tell me that I have a good and positive aura to my presence that makes them feel more comfortable in a critical time. Knowing that I can find answers and make a way to not only care for, but to also “get things done” for someone who may not be able to for themselves, is the best reward to keep me in this profession.”
Was there a Galen Nurse Educator that impacted your nursing education?
“There were multiple instructors who really offered their knowledge and time to us, students. Each instructor has their own way of guiding us, but you will find that Galen’s instructors truly have their student’s best interests at heart. All of the Galen faculty shows the student body equal support and positive encouragement throughout their journey.”
What was the highlight of your Galen experience?
“Some of my best experiences occurred during clinical rotation. The clinical instructors are a relief from class, but also a great benefit to our educational pursuits. My clinical rotations were during the COVID-19 pandemic, so there were moments where it seemed overwhelming, but some of the experiences that I received in clinicals were most exhilarating. It motivated me to keep pushing forward. Our instructors encouraged and influenced us to keep reaching for gold and showed us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Do you have aspirations of furthering your nursing education?
“I do plan to continue forward in my education. I have not selected a program yet, but my goal is to apply and obtain acceptance into an HBCU nursing or healthcare management program!”
Do you have any advice for potential students interested in Galen College of Nursing?
“I would encourage students to keep their heads to the sky! Nothing worth fighting for comes easy in this world, but in pursuit of a nursing education, thriving effort and discipline are key! Self-care is key! Positive surroundings are essential! A positive mental capacity encourages determination and ambition to cross the finish line.”
Natasha Colón is a current Tampa Bay student in our ADN Program. Colón’s Galen story is one of passion, perseverance, and ingenuity. Her nursing journey began in March of 2020, just a few days prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she discovered that she was pregnant with her daughter. The challenges of the pregnancy combined with the overwhelming stress of a global pandemic offered Colón her fair share of adversity.
Yet, she persevered throughout those nine months, which resulted in Colón finding her calling in the field of nursing. Natasha explains that her experience in labor with her midwife inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.
“The midwife that helped me through my pregnancy made me feel safe and prepared to take this massive life step. She truly made me feel like I was more than another patient. It was after that experience that I knew that I wanted to give others the same positive birthing experience I had.”
She recalls discussing this aspiration with her cousin, who recommended she look into Galen of College of Nursing. After a few meetings and a campus visit, Colón was enrolled and on track to becoming a nurse.
On campus, Natasha truly felt inspired and eager to learn.
“I love going to class. The teachers are always there to support me while still challenging me academically. They truly create an environment that I feel l can thrive in both personally and academically,” she says.
However, it was her time in our Advanced Simulation Center and clinical settings that inspired Colón to create a tool that would, not only help advance her hands-on experience, but her peers’ as well. Natasha found that organizing her head-to-toe assessment and care plan was difficult due to the large size of notebooks and the inevitable amount of scrap paper used.
Colón desired to have a notebook that would eliminate this inconvenience and focus better on patient care. So, she designed a specialized journal that displays a breakdown of Galen’s Head-to-Toe Assessment and Care Plan on the left and a section for reflection on the right. Moreover, she measured the exact dimensions needed to allow the book to fit conveniently in the pocket of her Galen scrubs. Immediately she began looking into turning her idea into a reality and after a mere 48 hours, the book was available for order.
Colón’s intention was for the book to be for personal use. However, her classmates soon took notice of its clean design, helpful interior, and convenient size and inquired her as to where to get one. This led to Colón beginning to sell this book to other students. The students left raving reviews of the usefulness of the book and brought it to the attention of some Galen faculty members.
“I really just wanted to share this tool I had created and I am glad that it is helping my classmates improve their clinical skills. Beyond that, I am glad that my classmates supported me and my idea. I really think this book, though small, can truly help Galen students learn to provide exemplary quality care,” explains Natasha.
Colón is set to graduate in 2023 and is enthusiastic about her future in health care.
“I have aspirations to continue my nursing education and become a certified nurse-midwife. I cannot begin to explain how excited I am to give others the same birthing experience that I had.”
Beyond her career aspirations, Natasha Colón elaborates that she wants to be sure to foster an environment of inclusivity and diversity during her time at Galen and in her future as a nurse.
“Making sure every person I encounter feels supported, cared about, and safe will always be my top priority. I always want to help others. I love helping my peers in class, my daughter grow, and my patients feel better. Caring for others is and will always be my calling,” boast Colón.
In support of Colón’s dedication to nursing education, passion for patient care, and desire to help others, Galen College of Nursing will be offering a limited number of Colón’s books in our on-campus stores.
At Galen College of Nursing, we truly change the life of one to care for the life of many.
Joel Neuhart is a Cincinnati Campus student with a passion for education and a fierce drive to help others. Neuhart was on a hiatus from school after receiving his degree in Biomedical Science and utilized that time to research which medical field he felt a calling toward. He began researching and quickly found nursing was the right fit.
“Once I graduated, I wasn’t perfectly clear as to what direction I wanted to go. However, after a little digging, I discovered a vast field of possibilities with nursing. There are tons of specialties and opportunities to have direct patient interactions and continue learning new skills,” says Neuhart.
After realizing his calling was in nursing, Neuhart began looking into accelerated programs and found Galen College of Nursing. He attended an Open House event and notes that he felt invited and “invested in” from the moment he entered the building. Moreover, after discussing his interest in Galen’s accelerated program he was informed that some previous credits would transfer over and help him graduate even quicker.
“Galen provided me a welcoming environment, opportunities, resources, and a quicker route to my degree than any other program I looked into. At Galen, I felt that I was more than just a number. I was cared about by faculty, staff, and even students. After my Open House experience and a few discussions with my admissions representative, I knew I was making the right choice.”
While Neuhart’s dedication to his education is impressive, his passion to help others that stands out. He is a current Student Advisory Committee member and Galen Student Ambassador. When asked what drew him to get involved so heavily with the college, he explains.
“I love being involved in all things I do. Some people may say it’s over committal, but I have always seen it as extremely determined. I always want to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and being involved in Galen’s student organization has given me so many opportunities to do so.”
“Being a member of SAC allows me to act as a liaison between the college and students. We have been able to present some really great ideas and make a real positive impact on the student body. The way I have always looked at it is that, in nursing, we base improvements on evidence-based practice that is constantly evolving. So, why not take that mindset and implement it with our student body to make a lasting impact for current and future students?” says Neuhart.
When reflecting on his role as a Student Ambassador, he notes it is a rewarding experience. He has had the opportunity to meet and work alongside individuals from “all walks of life” who are considering a path in nursing. He remembers how scary beginning the nursing education journey can be and set a goal to use his platform as an ambassador to help “turn the fear into excitement” for future students.
“Being a Galen Student Ambassador has allowed me to take my amazing Galen experience and pay it forward to the next generation of Galen students,” exclaims Neuhart.
He is set to graduate from Galen’s BSN program in January and has accepted a position in the ICU beginning in February. Neuhart offers a final piece of guidance for anyone who needs one last push to begin their nursing journey at Galen College of Nursing.
“Starting something new can be terrifying, but you’ve done the research and taken the steps, and now is the time to take the leap of faith and start. Nursing can take you so many places and you can touch the lives of so many. It IS worth it.”
At Galen, we often state that nursing is not just what you do, it’s also who you are. Mark Boyce, a current Cincinnati Campus student, is an exemplary example of just this. Boyce, 31, spent many years in leadership roles in the food and retail industry. However, he claims, “there was always a burning desire internally to pursue my dream and enter the healthcare field.” He notes that his wife, a Registered Nurse, was an encouraging force that helped him “take the leap” and apply to Galen College of Nursing.
“From the first time I stepped foot in Galen to take a tour, I knew it was where I belonged,” says Boyce.
His Galen journey began in 2019 but was paused after Boyce and his wife welcomed a third child into their family. Though he had to take a leave of absence, he continued to remain committed to his nursing education and is “back in full swing” in the classroom. He explains that his experience at Galen has helped him garner a new sense of confidence and resilience.
“One of my favorite quotes was from Thomas Edison when he was asked by a reporter how it felt to fail over 1,000 times when trying to make the first lightbulb. Edison replied, ‘I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps’. We often get caught up in what we view as failures, and it is important to remember that those things are just steps in our path to success,” he reflects.
Though nursing school can be difficult, he notes the abundance of resources, opportunities, and faculty members that “go above and beyond” have provided him with every tool he needs to find success inside and outside the classroom. He describes Professor Janet Paguigan, MSN-Ed, RN, CNE, and Stephanie Barnett, MSN, RN, as just this. Boyce explains that their challenging curriculum and unwavering dedication to students has made a positive impact on his nursing journey that will last a lifetime.
While Boyce has maintained great success inside the classroom, he has not stopped there. He is currently serving as the GSNA President and a SAC member for the Cincinnati Campus.
“I am honored to serve as the President of the Galen Student Nurses Association. I love being a part of a student-run organization that gets to serve our community through so many avenues. Not only do we strive to make a difference in the lives of those outside the walls of Galen, but we also hope to make a positive impact on the student body as well! There is a lot of stress in life, and if we can bring some cheer to someone’s day, there’s nothing that tops that feeling,” he explains.
Boyce is set to graduate from our ADN program in 2022 and is hoping to enter the pediatrics field of nursing. However, his nursing journey will not end there. Boyce is planning to continue his education by pursuing his DNP-FNP. He concludes with this advice for anyone hesitant about taking the first steps to enroll at Galen College of Nursing:
“Nursing school is challenging; however, it is entirely worth it if you have a heart for serving people! Don’t hesitate to take that first step and apply! That first step is the hardest, and you will never feel completely prepared, but you will grow and continue learning from there.”