Dr. Nancy Bellucci is a familiar face in a new role as the Program Director of the Online RN to BSN at Galen College of Nursing. She has been a member of Galen’s faculty since November 2016. Before becoming the Program Director, Dr. Bellucci served as course lead faculty and chair of the Online RN to BSN Program Evaluation Committee. Dr. Bellucci said she will mentor and help nurses “build upon their skills and identify their gifts.” She detailed how the program will enhance nurses’ careers.
Where did you start your career?
I started on the medical-surgical floor in a hospital in southern New Jersey. From there, I became an operating room nurse and then a manager in clinical education, which lead me here as a member of academia.
What attracted you to Galen?
I was referred by someone who retired as an academic administrator, and she suggested that I apply for an adjunct position. I had been working at a number of other online programs at the time. When a full-time position opened, I interviewed for the position and became a full-time member of the faculty of the Online RN to BSN program.
How will students benefit from the Online RN to BSN program?
It serves as an excellent pathway to becoming a professional nurse, by way of all the different courses we offer in the program. It also serves as a great platform for a student to begin thinking about a master’s level education. All of the courses we offer in the Online RN to BSN program serve as the foundational platform for students to think about themselves, not only as a registered nurse, but also how they can impact society by being involved in policy and procedure changes, identifying challenges, and providing solutions that will benefit patients and the workplace. The program is designed to help the students achieve their goals in an ever-changing healthcare setting.
What are some of the responsibilities for your role?
First and foremost, I am a mentor. I think it is important that nurses help each other build upon their skills, identify their gifts, and be able to explore different career paths by way of quality projects. I actively mentor and engage in the socialization of the faculty to the new role, whether they be adjunct or full-time. I also oversee operations such as staffing and quality improvement to help enhance the curriculum. I attend student advisory council sessions and listen to students who provide feedback about the courses. I participate in program evaluation, curriculum and retention committees, and serve in all other capacities that help the program.
Do you have any advice for students entering the Online RN to BSN program?
Students should take their time with the content. They also should look at the courses as an opportunity to expand themselves and their thinking. Students should make sure to use the resources available in the courses to be successful, and if they find that they are hitting a barrier, they need to verbalize their concern to the instructor. Their instructors can help improve navigation in the courses and help them understand the content. A lot of these concepts are foreign to the practicing nurse because they are thinking about what they need to do at the bedside or what they need to give to their patients. Practicing nurses need the confidence to help expand their thinking beyond the bedside.
Favorite candy bar: Snickers, even though I have not had one in a long time.
Favorite sport: I like golf. It is probably the most boring sport you can watch on television. My favorite player is Tiger Woods.
Favorite food: Spaghetti and meatballs
Foods you hate: I hate seafood because my grandfather caught tons of fish. He grew up during the Depression-era, so we always ate what was on the table, and there was a lot of fish on a lot of nights.
Favorite hobby: Playing with my dog. He’s a little guy, a Maltese-Yorkie mix, so he’s a Morkie named Jersey.
Favorite movie: A Dog’s Purpose. It’s the life of a dog re-imagined through many different lifetimes to get back to his original owner. You’ll cry the whole time if you’ve never seen it.
As the author of several textbooks and namesake of the resource center, Community Liaison and Education Consultant Nancy Maebius’ name stands out at the San Antonio campus of Galen College of Nursing.
Maebius, Ph.D., MSN, BSN, RN, has served as a consultant, educator and faculty member at Galen for 28 years and has written several textbooks and guides for Galen’s VN program.
Her tireless service to Galen and passion for vocational nursing (VN) led to the naming of San Antonio’s campus student resource center in Maebius’ honor in 2012. Among the speakers at the dedication ceremony was former Mayor Julian Castro, who is now a 2020 presidential candidate.
The visionary leader continues to leave a mark in an industry that is close to her heart: nursing.
Maebius, whose father was a physician, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, the oldest of three children. Her parents encouraged them to pursue the career of their choice, so with an interest in science and psychology, she decided to pursue nursing education.
In 1963, Maebius graduated with a BSN from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked at the National Institutes of Health. Two years later, she married her husband, who studied law at George Washington University. The couple moved to Austin, Texas, in 1966 for graduate school where she attended the University of Texas in Austin’s inaugural Master of Science in Nursing program. She was also one of four founding faculty members in 1969 at the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing in San Antonio and served on the faculty for nine years.
In 1985, Maebius began working in staff development for Humana Women’s Hospital. Six years later, she was recruited by Humana to help create the school’s curriculum and teach in the Humana Health Institutes’ VN program. The Institute’s name was later changed to Galen College of Nursing.
When she first began teaching in the VN program, Maebius used RN textbooks as there weren’t any nursing textbooks for VN students. As a result, she co-authored one of the first medical-surgical textbooks and co-authored the second and third editions. She also co-authored the first two editions of one of the first Anatomy and Physiology textbooks for the program’s students.
For more than a decade, Maebius has taught Anatomy and Physiology and pharmacology in the VN program to over 1,100 students.
“I enjoyed working with a diverse group of students ranging in age from 20 to 61, many of whom were first-generation college students,” she said. “The role of LVNs has expanded over the past 30 years, and many of our VN program graduates have continued their education, earning ADN, BSN, and MSN degrees.”
Maebius, who completed her doctoral work in curriculum and instruction from UT Austin in 1990, said teaching at Galen was an excellent opportunity to apply her research in the VN program.
“Reflecting on my years at Galen,” she said, “I have watched the school grow from one class of 30 VN students per year to our current enrollment of over 1,700 VN, ADN, and BSN students, while retaining excellence in the quality of the curriculum, faculty, and staff, and administrative leadership.”
Maebius added, “There has been a continued shortage of nurses, and I appreciate Galen’s single-purpose focus of nursing education that supports the critical need for nurses. I look forward to seeing what the next years will bring for Galen.”
As a little boy, Johnathan Pritchard, MBA, MSN, RN loved superheroes. He always felt it was heroic to save someone’s life.
“I thought I wanted to be a police officer or a firefighter, and as I got older, I realized that the nursing profession was a pretty incredible profession,” he said. “I felt if I really wanted to be a superhero, nurses are everyday superheroes.”
“My classmates and professors were incredible,” he said. “I enjoyed working with them, and it was a great experience.”
After he graduated from Galen in 2016, he landed a staff nurse position at The Kidz Club. The Kidz Club provides skilled nursing care to children who are medically complex and unable to attend a regular childcare facility.
“There are always moments when you’re practicing as a nurse, and medical situations don’t always go as planned. But the skills I was able to learn from Galen helped me during those situations,” he said. “I’ve always felt very prepared for what I might see and what I would have to do in order to ensure that my patients achieved an optimal level of health.”
Pritchard continues to advance in his career by leaps and bounds at The Kidz Club. While there, he eventually became a charge nurse and then promoted to Director of Nursing at one of the facilities in Louisville. Today, Pritchard is the Director of Nursing Operations, and he oversees the daily operations at seven facilities, which include six in Kentucky and one in Florida. He has been working with the company for six years.
“There’s a lot of case management that goes into what we do, and so we build a plan of treatment for these kids that’s signed off by their primary care doctor,” Pritchard said. “It’s much different than a hospital where a patient comes in, we treat them, and we send them on their way. Instead, these children are with us, so we really get to know them and their families. We really feel like we have an opportunity to help impact that child’s life as well as help these families.”
Pritchard is grateful that he has been able to apply his educational background to his career. He has been able to accomplish some of his superhero goals of making a difference in a little person’s life.
“Galen really built the foundation of nursing for me and allowed me to go on to do other things with my degree. Nursing is a wonderful profession, and I think that’s why some people get into it,” he said. “Nursing has its stressful moments, but Galen has prepared me for those types of situations that you’ll run into. It really has enhanced my career.”
Galen College of Nursing Online RN to BSN student Petra Lesmeister didn’t choose nursing, it chose her, she said. Lesmeister is the May 2019 “Student of Term,” and she couldn’t be more excited. The Missouri native, who is the oldest of nine children, said that she enjoys taking care of people. One of her first jobs was at a local nursing home, and it motivated her to pursue nursing as a career.
Three years ago, she and her family moved to Austin, Texas, and as she began to research nursing schools, she found out about Galen through one of her friends. Lesmeister was impressed with the College’s commitment to nursing education, but there was one catch: She would have to drive 2½ hours to attend her classes in San Antonio. Lesmeister made the choice to stop working at a job so that she could attend the program’s clinicals.
“It was something I could do, and I was willing to make some sacrifices,” she said. “Even though many of us were commuting, we would all still make time to get together and study. I really loved the sense of connection that we had with each other.”
In September 2018, Lesmeister completed the LVN to ADN program and is now giving her car a much-needed break from the road while studying online for her BSN. Recently, she learned that her father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, she and her family returned to Missouri to assist him with his medical care.
“This has been one of my harder semesters in the Online RN to BSN program because we’ve driven back and forth to Kansas City a couple of times,” she said. “When I got Student of the Term, I was shocked. Every spare moment that I had, I was trying to complete my schoolwork so that I could do well.”
Although she is taking her classes online, Lesmeister said her teachers are always available and provide unending support. She credits her instructor Cassie Foote, DNP, RN-BC for providing her with insightful advice and study tips.
“She was really good about describing exactly how she wanted you to do the project, so you knew exactly what was expected of you,” Lesmeister said. “It has been a good experience.”
There was no question in Foote’s mind to nominate her ‘standout student.’ Lesmeister would always go the extra mile and learn what was needed to fine-tune her online assignments, Foote said. She sees a bright future for Lesmeister.
“When she participates on the discussion board, she takes the time to read the posts and respond with something very thoughtful,” Foote said. “You can tell she’s really engaged with all the material. She’s just a real standout student in every way. I think she has great potential to be able to go on into higher education, get her master’s degree, and possibly her doctorate if she’s interested.”
In July, Lesmeister will be working at the University of Kansas in mental health and will graduate from Galen in October.
John Lundeen EdD, RN, CNE, is thrilled to join Galen College of Nursing as the Program Director of the online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. In his new role, Dr. Lundeen will provide engaged leadership in the development and implementation of the MSN Nurse Educator track, drawing from his extensive experience in nursing education. We caught up with Dr. Lundeen to learn more about his career, tips for students, and why he loves Payday candy bars.
Where did you start your career?
I began at the University of West Alabama, where I earned my associate degree in nursing. From there, my wife and I moved to Birmingham, Alabama. I started on a medical-surgical floor in a hospital in Birmingham. Over time, I worked in the medical intensive care unit and the cardiac cath lab. I also worked a short stint as a critical care transport flight nurse onboard a fixed-wing aircraft.
Later, I attended the Ida Moffett School of Nursing at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where they have an RN-MSN bridge program. There, I earned my master’s in nursing education. After I earned my master’s, I began teaching at Samford and was there for 11 years. In that time, I attended The University of Alabama where I earned my EdD in instructional leadership in nursing education. While at Samford, I taught in the baccalaureate program and then transitioned to the master’s and finally the DNP program.
What attracted you to Galen?
I have worked previously with four executives from Galen on different boards at the national level. Their personalities and dedication to nursing education were inspiring. Hearing them talk about Galen, the new opportunities here, and the rate in which they were able to make things happen was very appealing to me.
When I found out about the MSN program, the opportunity for growth and the chance to create something great was what drew me, and I just thought, ‘You know, I have prepared myself for this.’ I knew that everything I have done up until this point including my education, serving as a commissioner on the CNE Commission, and my affiliation as governor-at-large on the board of the National League for Nursing has prepared me for this role. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to do this!’
How will students benefit from the online MSN, Nurse Educator Program?
Our program will provide students with an opportunity to get a higher education and advance their careers. Becoming a nurse educator will open opportunities for them to teach in clinical areas and simulation environments. They can work in hospitals as directors of education for nurses and the ancillary staff. It will also prepare them for careers in a range of pre-licensure nursing programs.
What are some of the responsibilities of your role?
I am going to be making sure that the curriculum is designed to a level for what we want in a master’s prepared nurse, and just making sure that the content is addressing the standards for our national organizations and our accrediting bodies. I am also responsible for hiring and supervising faculty who will teach and manage those courses. It is also my responsibility to encourage them in faculty development opportunities that help them reach goals they have set for themselves, as well as help them to achieve those goals.
Do you have any advice for students entering the MSN program?
Enter with a strong desire to learn more. Graduate students are expected to do more independent learning and seeking out more information than what is provided. Students should have a higher level of inquiry, search more, and be ready for more writing. The master’s level is more reading and writing intensive. I know there are many people who say they can’t write and wouldn’t be able to make it in graduate school, but there are so many people at Galen who are willing to help students be successful.
Our program is online, so as an MSN student, you’re going to have to set deadlines. It is fast-paced because it is an eight-week term, so you’ll need to be prepared for a rigorous education. However, your faculty will be there and will support you.
Favorite candy bar: Payday. It’s the best of both worlds, sweet and salty. It’s the most amazing candy bar.
Favorite football team: Ole Miss Rebels (Hotty Toddy!)
Favorite food: A juicy bacon cheeseburger cooked on an old, flat grill at a diner.
Foods You Hate: I hate a fried egg that’s got runny egg white.
Favorite Hobby: My favorite thing to do right now is to help out with my daughters’ bands. I have enjoyed being involved with the band booster programs.
Favorite Movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
As Allida Williams talks about her 29-year career at Galen College of Nursing, a warm smile lights up her face. In 1990, the alumni records manager began as a receptionist at the Louisville campus when it was above a radio station in downtown Louisville. She laughs as she recalls how much the nursing school has grown in 30 years.
“We used to be a whole lot smaller, of course. We started with just the PN program, and we knew every student. We even knew their personal stories,” she said. “I appreciate the growth and being able to service more students, but sometimes I miss being able to know all of our students personally.”
During those early years, Williams was especially proud of the students during graduations. She also described some of the hurdles that students cleared to make it to the finish line.
“Transportation can be tough for some of our students. One student I knew had to take a bus to every clinical, which were held in a separate location, and every class, even when they were doing 3 to 11 p.m. clinicals,” she recalled. “There was so much pride and excitement just to see them graduate and be able to change their lives and their families’ lives.”
Williams is delighted that she can keep in touch with many of Galen’s graduates across the country. She enjoys traveling to open houses and alumni events to network with recent graduates and learning where they have started their new careers. She also is helping to establish stronger alumni associations on Galen’s campuses.
“I love hearing the things that they are doing now in their careers and where they’ve been able to go once they graduate from Galen,” Williams said. “There’s such a vast array of things they’re able to do with a Galen education.”
Senior Director of Financial Aid Joni Penland has watched Galen College of Nursing grow up. She had a front-row seat to Galen’s humble beginnings in 1989 while she worked for Vice President of Nursing Kathryn Mershon, RN, MSN, CNAA, FAAN at Humana. Penland began working in the Audit Department at Humana in 1980 and eventually became Mershon’s executive assistant.
In 1982, there was a high demand for nurses, and Humana desperately needed to staff its hospitals. Mershon was asked by Humana officials to look for ways they could address the severe nursing shortage, including starting their own nursing school.
“They looked at areas with the greatest shortages with Humana hospitals in the vicinity,” Penland said. “That’s why we created campuses in Tampa, San Antonio, and Louisville.”
Penland began her career as a part-time office manager at the Louisville campus before moving to Galen’s corporate office where she was responsible for accounts payable and receivable. When an opening for a director of financial aid position became available, Penland was thrilled to take the reins in management for the three campuses.
“I’ve always appreciated and thought it gave me a unique perspective going from a part-time office manager to the senior director of financial aid rather than if you come in as a leader, and you haven’t seen the other side of it,” she said. “I was ready to dive in for the challenge to be the director for three campuses at that time, and I have been here ever since. It’s amazing how far we’ve come as a college.”
In the early ‘90s, Galen’s Louisville campus started with just three instructors who taught pre-licensure, vocational and practical nursing programs and the classes were held above a radio station in downtown Louisville.
“Basically, everything outside of our clinicals was held on the third and fourth floors of the building at 4th and Chestnut,” she said. Eventually, parking became a challenge for students. As the school continued to grow, there just wasn’t enough space for parking and more classrooms, Penland said. In 2004, Galen moved its current operations to its four-story Zorn Avenue building.
Three years later, Galen opened its Cincinnati campus. However, before bringing Cincinnati on board, the associate degree bridge programs were established at the other three campuses.
“That was our first nursing degree program and it was a learning process,” Penland said. “Since that time, we have added the online RN to BSN, prelicensure associate, and prelicensure bachelor degrees. In our efforts to continually look for new ways to support the nursing profession. We are all looking forward to enrolling our first group of graduate students in our MSN program. The growth has been amazing.”
And, the numbers continue to rise. When Penland started at Galen, the school’s population was roughly 600 students enrolled in one program across three campuses. Now, there are six nursing programs and upwards of 7,700 students who have received financial aid in the last year.
In 2013, Galen opened its 3,000-square-foot simulation center at its River Green campus in Louisville, which was dedicated to Mershon. And, in 2017, Galen launched a campus in the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) System Center building in Hazard, Kentucky, offering the associate degree in nursing through a two-year program and LPN to ADN Bridge. Galen and ARH joined together to offer additional nursing education opportunities in the region.
Penland credits Galen’s 30-year success to its ‘forward-thinking’ employees. Each program’s curriculum and faculty have received positive responses, she said.
“We are proud to have strong growth in our student enrollment. Our graduates are well-prepared for the real world and transition into rewarding nursing careers, which helps to change their lives and patient outcomes,” she said. “This couldn’t be done without our forward-thinking employees. Galen’s future is limitless.”
Two student groups from the Louisville campus of Galen College of Nursing recently took their research on the road to the Kentucky League for Nursing’s (KLN) 15th Annual Nurse Educator Conference in downtown Louisville. Brandy Crompton, Taylor Coffman, and Katherine Draper presented their poster titled, “Communication to Prevent Medication Errors,” and Amber Gelnett, Keila Mendez, and Augustina Osei submitted a poster titled, “Promotion of Resurgence in Early Childhood.” Both presentations were accepted at the conference.
Faculty Advisor Dr. Andrea Houser, who teaches a Communications and Teamwork class, recommended that her students submit an abstract to a professional organization’s state conference. Each student is placed on a team of peers, and the team has to create and present a poster presentation. The conference project teaches them critical-thinking and professional skills outside of the classroom, Dr. Houser said. She was thrilled both groups had the opportunity to network with more than 150 nurse educators at the conference.
“It’s that professionalism piece that students do not see by just going to class day after day. Going to a conference is not only the place where networking happens but also role modeling. I feel strongly that students should be included in conference activities,” Dr. Houser said. “In this project, all I did was show them the way, and they took ownership of the project. I could not be more proud of them.”
The two groups were given a selection of topics, and Gelnett, Osei, and Mendez’s poster highlighted an issue that has been making headlines. The group was interested in how measles has returned with “such a full force,” and it was a subject that was discussed in their class for a few weeks, Gelnett said.
“We also wanted to help everybody bridge that gap between theories versus evidenced-based practice, and other beliefs that might deter people from getting vaccinations,” she said. “Our topic was well-received since it’s such a prevalent issue.”
Mendez said the group prepped for three to four weeks in case the questions became difficult. Although she was nervous during her presentation, Mendez said the nurse educators made her feel comfortable during the presentations.
“Many of the nurses asked us several questions, and it forced us to really think about our responses,” she said. “Everybody was really sweet and very helpful. They helped us to learn a lot.”
Crompton, Draper, and Coffman’s group decided to display the seriousness of medical errors at the conference. It was also a “hot topic” discussed in their class, Coffman said.
“Even though it’s a simple, initial task that you learn, it’s something that gets neglected pretty often,” she said. “And in the United States, medication errors are still on the rise despite all the efforts that educators are putting into place, trying to prevent them.”
Crompton and Coffman hope that more nursing students present at conferences similar to KLN. Both students called the daylong presentations “a great experience.”
“I felt proud when Dr. Houser asked us if we would do it. I’ve never written an abstract before, but that was a fun thing to learn well enough to be accepted,” Crompton said. “It was a great experience because we interacted with nurse educators. I took away a lot.”
Once her group’s presentations were completed, Coffman said she was inspired by the advice many of the conference attendees shared with her.
“Everybody there kept saying to us, ‘Make sure you put this on your resume.’ ‘This is amazing! You should be proud of this,’” she said. “And then I remember a few of the KLN board directors kept telling us, ‘This is what separates you from everyone else. This is showing your leadership and power. This is what’s going to take you further.’”
Even though Olukemi Adentan was a web developer and publisher for eight years, she still had dreams of pursuing a nursing career. Her mother, who is a retired nurse and nurse instructor, also encouraged Adentan to become a nurse.
“Growing up, I went to school with my mother. She wanted me to be a nurse, but I didn’t pursue nursing at that time. I went on to get degrees in English and communications,” Adentan said. “But, over the years, I realized I had the qualities of a nurse, and so my mind kept going back to just wanting to be one.”
When Adentan decided to apply to a few nursing schools, she became discouraged from campus representatives who told her she would be placed on waiting lists and needed to complete several prerequisites. Coincidentally, Adentan was helping a friend move from Houston to San Antonio to attend Galen College of Nursing. Her advice inspired Adentan to enroll at the San Antonio campus.
Adentan was so determined to accomplish her longtime goals and follow in her mother’s footsteps that she traveled six hours round-trip from Houston to San Antonio campus every week for both her LVN and ADN degrees.
“I was a good student even though my classes were quite challenging,” she said. “I was coming to San Antonio on Sundays and returning on Fridays, and I did that for the three years. Even though it was a huge challenge, I was able to overcome it because I had great support at school.”
For the past five years, Adentan has been working at Cigna HealthSpring as a nurse case manager senior analyst. She provides patients with medical information and healthcare needs.
“I follow them through the healthcare continuum in a transition of care. When patients are discharged from the hospital, I monitor them, ensuring they understand their discharge instructions, adhere to treatment and medication regimen,” she said. “I encourage patients to follow up with their primary care physicians and specialists. I make sure they have all the tools they need to become independent and healthier at home.”
The proud Galen graduate encourages current students to utilize the resources available to them to help them succeed.
“Many times, students might want to rely on themselves and study alone. But they really should utilize the tools and resources at school, including using the library and participating in study groups. They should also talk to their instructors regularly,” Adentan advised. “Students should try to make themselves dynamic in such a way that they can work into other roles aside from bedside nursing. However, you can do all the bedside nursing you want, if that’s what you love. But the knowledge that you gain in nursing, especially at Galen, will allow you to get into even bigger roles.”
Galen College of Nursing’ Executive VP of Prelicensure Nursing Dr. Audria Denker RN, MSN, DNP, discussed the quality of healthcare and the importance of Galen’s Hazard campus in Eastern Kentucky. She was one of four panelists who addressed the exodus of nurses in the region during the 2019 Eastern Kentucky Leadership Foundation’s conference held recently at Southeast Kentucky Community Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky.
The biggest concern is the quality of nursing in Eastern Kentucky as hospitals staff their facilities with traveling nurses who come in for just 13 weeks to work and then leave, Dr. Denker said.
“They’re temps,” she said. “A temporary nurse is not going to care at the same level about your patients or outcomes. Also, doctors are less likely to come to an area and work unless they know there are permanent nurses on staff. Nursing can have an effect so many things.”
Galen’s Hazard campus has students that come from 23 counties and three different states: Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. Denker is hopeful that Hazard students who are building a connection with Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) will be encouraged to continue their nursing career in Eastern Kentucky.
“It’s too soon to tell if our students will stay in the area, but they are receiving a great education in Hazard,” she said. “It would be beneficial to everyone if they’ll want to continue to give back to the facility that allowed them to learn how to be a nurse. ARH has facilities all over Eastern Kentucky.”
Galen’s Hazard campus is fulfilling a need in the area, she said. Some students drive more than two hours to attend the College because “we’re one of the best nursing schools in Kentucky,” she said.
“Healthcare organizations acknowledge that continually. That’s the beauty of it,” Dr. Denker said.
The two-day conference’s topics included growing a hemp economy, capitalizing on the economic potential of lakes, using 21st-century technology to build your business, and broadband in Eastern Kentucky.
Photo courtesy of WYMT