The decision to go back to school can be a tough one to make, but there are actually perks for those taking a less-traditional route. In fact, sometimes the “later-in-life” student might have some advantages over more-traditional students.
You Are Better at Managing Your Time … and Your Sanity!
Many nontraditional students have moved out of Mom & Pop’s and have been busy supporting themselves, and possibly a family. Adding college into an already-demanding schedule can seem impossible, but you have experience juggling already, so figuring this out will be a little easier for you.
Be sure you communicate with your friends and family about what you will need help with, and let them help you. And remember that nursing school won’t last forever, so these adjustments will only be temporary. (And worth it!)
You Know What You Want
An adult entering (or re-entering) the collegiate realm better understands what you want for the future, having a past or present from which you want a change.
And you understand the importance of time management in a way that applies to the real world based on your own personal experience.
Better Coping Skills
It’s safe to say that if you’re returning to school as an adult, you’ve probably been managing your own life (and maybe even the lives of your children or family members) for a while now.
You understand that it’s important to look at the big picture and are willing to work hard to do whatever it takes to get the job done. One bad grade doesn’t mean you should hang it up and quit. You have the maturity to know that it just might mean you have to ramp it up and try harder or ask for help, and you also possess the confidence which will tell you that you will succeed if you consistently improve.
Take Action Today!
So, let’s get started! Schedule that information session or follow-up appointment you’ve been putting off today. You’ve spent a lot of time cultivating the awesome adult you’ve become, and you now have the skills needed to create the life you’ve always wanted.
Yes, it might be tough but anything worth it always is. You’ve got this.
What started as a two-week vacation back to the island of his birth turned into a major career opportunity for Glen Cornwall, Dean of Galen College of Nursing’s Tampa Bay Campus, and he wouldn’t change a single moment of it.
Glen was born in Antigua, then his family moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands when he was 2 years old. He started his medical career in 1985 as a Navy medical corpsman stationed with the Marine Corps. He was involved in a few combat operations – including serving in Desert Storm – before leaving the military and moving to the Tampa Bay area to work as an EMT.
One year, he and his wife went on vacation back to the Caribbean, and while in Antigua, he noticed there wasn’t a good Emergency Management System in the country. So, he reached out to the local medical director at the hospital and, as he says, “one thing led to another, and I ended up starting a new EMS program for the hospital. What started as a vacation turned into moving to Antigua for 7 years!”
Once he had the system up and running for the entire island – “you can’t tell the difference between what they have there and what we have in the U.S.,” he says – he started thinking about returning to the U.S. to continue his education. He moved back to Tampa and started by working as a paramedic while he got his nursing degree, then moved into nursing education, where he felt he could help more people.
“I started as a clinical instructor in Galen’s LPN program,” he says. “Then I was asked to take on a couple of theory courses, which then turned into most of the theory courses, along with the clinicals. Then the campus president asked me to be program director for the LPN program. At first, I said no because I loved teaching, and I walked out of his office. But when I closed the door, I stopped, and I said to myself, ‘This might be your chance to help more students. You’ll regret it if you don’t take this chance,’ so I turned back around and went back into his office and told him I’d take the job.”
Now, along with serving as Dean of Galen College’s Tampa Bay campus since December 2018, Glen is waiting to defend his dissertation to complete a Ph.D. in Nursing from Barry University. The dissertation is about the lived experience of the informal caregivers (those with no medical training) of scleroderma patients, something that hits home for him because his wife – a nurse who has dedicated her life to caring – has the rare condition.
“As a young nurse, I had a patient with scleroderma and saw what her family went through,” he says. “After my wife got diagnosed, she and I started a support group in the Tampa Bay area, and in talking with other families, we realized there are not a lot of resources. I hope this will shed some light on the condition and also share these experiences so other caregivers will be able to help their loved ones.”
Throughout his entire career, as he has traveled around the world with the military and as an accomplished musician, Glen feels there’s nothing that’s not worth trying to accomplish. But there’s one word he tries to avoid.
“I tend not to use the word ‘change,’ because in nursing, if you say you’re going to change something, everyone gets upset,” he says. “So, I tell people that we’re making progress instead, because progress goes in only one direction. After all, who’s going to be against making progress?”
It took Tara Dailey, Dean of Galen College of Nursing’s San Antonio campus, a little while to find her way into the nursing field. But once she got started, she never looked back.
“I had gone to college in Texas and was working on a psychology degree, but as soon as I finished the associate’s part of it, I didn’t feel like I was making a difference, so I moved back home to Kentucky,” she says. “One of my family members was going to nursing school and suggested I go, too, and I immediately felt like I found my calling. The funny part is that I’m the only person in my family who is still in nursing!”
When asked what her favorite part of the job, she says “hands down, it’s making a difference for the students.” Normally an introverted person, she finds that being around students brings out a different side of her.
“My husband can tell when I’m in front of students or not because when I come home, if I’m bouncing, he knows I met with students that day,” she says. “They make me feel more upbeat, more positive, and happier overall. I love working with students, and I love working with faculty to help them work with the students, too. When my faculty succeed, that’s like my success, too, because the students are getting what they need.”
She started her own nursing career as a practical nurse in Kentucky in 1997, which is why she finds herself often advocating for practical and vocational nurses. She also believes in the importance of education, earning her associate’s degree from Northern Kentucky University, her bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, and her Master’s Degree from South University in Savannah, Ga. Oh, and you can call her Dr. Dailey now, since she recently earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from American Sentinel University.
Beyond education, one of her passions is leadership, and she is constantly finding ways to combine those two in ways that will help Galen College students and faculty.
“This year I’m participating in Leadership Women Texas, a state organization covering all types of disciplines with women who get together and discuss best practices in leadership,” she says. “I’ve been able to link with lots of women, including the director of the food bank in Dallas. We had built and launched a food bank inside our campus in 2017 – over 90 students visit the food bank every month – and we are looking to see if any potential collaboration opportunities exist. This type of leadership networking allows me to tap into greater partnerships and ultimately help the students and Galen.”
Outside of work, Tara loves spending as much time with her family as she can. She has a 20-year-old who lives in Indiana and an 8-year-old son who’s getting ready to turn 9. She also said she is “addicted to baking shows, even though I can’t bake very well.” But she’s not going to be making too many sweets any time soon – now that she has finished her personal educational journey, she has been “working hard on my physical self, having lost more than 80 pounds since January, so no cake for me right now!”
No matter what she’s cooking up, you can guarantee it will be in the best interest of the students at Galen College of Nursing’s San Antonio campus.
Spring 2020. The world is frozen, horrified at the rising tide of the Coronavirus pandemic. Healthcare workers are still working nonstop, and nursing students are desperately wishing they could be there to help.
But with clinical rotations and even on-campus coursework suspended, the only thing future nurses could do was try to find ways to connect with – and show their support for – the people on the front lines who had become their mentors, teachers, and, above all, friends.
At Galen College of Nursing’s Louisville campus, Sharon Evans, then a 4th-quarter ADN student and National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) chapter president, was discussing the problem with Constance Cruse, a Spring 2020 BSN graduate and 2019 NSNA President.
“The Galen students couldn’t be in the hospital, and nurses were so isolated … so we were thinking ‘There has to be a way we can show support, and (the clinical sites) can still have this experience with a Galen student,’” Sharon says. “How can we reach out to the community? What can we do to still have a presence in the hospital, build morale, and keep a presence among the doctors and nurses?”
Then Constance, who has a 6-year-old son, thought of “Flat Stanley,” the traveling paper-cutout hero of the popular children’s “Flat Stanley Project.” She’d recently accepted an RN position with Norton Audubon Hospital, and from her SNAP work in the Audubon ER, she remembered “Flat Henry” – a stand-up photo of the hospital’s therapy dog who had to stay home during the lockdown, too.
That’s how the Galen NSNA “Flat Students” were born. And it didn’t take long to figure out how to put them to work.
“I work with nurses who love to teach, and they want to teach … so I thought ‘What if the Flat Students went in to work with me?’” Constance says. “What if we took them into these situations to show Galen students our nurses are still willing to be there for us, and also that we’re supporting them? What if we show our support, and thank them and say we’ve missed being there with them?”
Things just took off from there. Sharon and Constance worked with Galen’s marketing team to create the cutouts, and Constance took them into work with her. She says the Flat Students turned a day on the front lines into a day of real fun. She photographed her co-workers interacting with the Flat Students – “I can see you smiling behind your masks!” she said – while they worked on shift reports, patient care, and other clinical activities. One of the Flat Students was even kitted out in PPE for a photo!
Now, the Flat Students are taking on lives of their own. According to Sharon, since their debut in the Norton Audubon ER, NSNA members have taken Flat Students to several other facilities – always accompanied by treats – with even greater adventures planned.
“It’s really been a team effort. That’s what NSNA is all about, too – it’s about teamwork, building relationships and using them to be involved in the community,” Sharon says. “It was brainstorm of love. Constance came up with a great idea, and it’s been great to watch it go.”
So, watch for future “Flat Student” appearances in healthcare facilities near you. They’re a sign that Galen College students truly value their teachers and mentors, and that even when they can’t be there in person to get hands-on experience, they can continue to be there in spirit, sharing their love of nursing and their pride in the people who answer the call.
Hannah Robinson has wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember because of her “drive to help others,” as she likes to say. And she chose Galen College of Nursing because she felt like Galen was the best fit for the kind of nurse she wanted to be.
“I loved the community at Galen. Everyone around you is like-minded and on the same mission,” Hannah says. “We all have the same mindset, which makes it extremely easy for your peers to become family. The professors push us as if they’ve known us our whole lives. Galen is full of love. Galen feels like family.”
Now that the Louisville native has earned her Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), the next step is a job at University of Louisville Hospital as a Trauma ICU nurse, where she knows she’ll be able to help people.
“Nursing to me is more than putting in an IV or a catheter – it’s holding the hand of a patient who is in there for the first time or being there for that family member who just found out their mom is sick,” she says. “I like to be the change in healthcare and that’s what brought me to nursing, and to Galen.”
No matter where her career takes her, she will think back on her time at Galen fondly and lovingly.
“The thing I’ll remember most about Galen is the professors. I remember each and every one of them – their stories, their backgrounds, and why they love nursing,” she says. “Nursing school is extremely hard, but they make it easy.”
New Jersey League for Nursing, led by Galen Executive Vice President Tracy Ortelli, wins national award
The New Jersey League for Nursing (NJLN) has been chosen by the National League for Nursing (NLN) as this year’s recipient of the coveted Constituent League Excellence in Innovation Award.
The NJLN is led by President Tracy Ortelli, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, who is also Executive Vice President of Postlicensure Nursing Education at Galen College of Nursing.
“New Jersey has really been hit hard by COVID-19, so to get this recognition now is especially meaningful,” says Dr. Ortelli.
In addition to offering excellent programming opportunities to its members, the NJLN has expanded its grants and scholarships program to include 26 nursing students at all levels of educational progression. Each of those students is eligible to receive awards from $250 to $1,000, with one advanced degree candidate who pledges to remain in the state’s nursing workforce eligible for a $10,000 scholarship award.
“The NJLN has been focused on awarding scholarships to nursing students so they can continue their education. We’re very proud of our ability to help our members in this way,” says Dr. Ortelli.
The award was presented at the recent NLN annual Education Summit, which was held virtually for the first time this year. Galen College of Nursing is a proud sponsor of the NLN Education Summit.
“Today, more than ever, the National League for Nursing has depended on state, regional and local leadership to support nurses and nurse educators on the frontlines of health care. While we face the challenges of a pandemic, along with demonstrable health care disparities reflecting the social determinants of health, innovative programming and other initiatives to support students and faculty are truly needed,” says NLN President Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAONL, FAAN, Professor and Dean Emerita at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and president of The Wise Group. “The New Jersey League for Nursing has been a role model in this regard, helping to spread the National League for Nursing’s message of sustained, inclusive, culturally sensitive educational excellence in the preparation of the next generation of nurses to deliver outstanding patient care, advancing, in particular, the health all New Jersey residents.”
The NJLN supports and implements the mission of the NLN to promote excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the nation’s health at the constituent level. The NJLN is a premier nursing Organization in the State, with more than 105 Years of promoting the positive image of nursing.
Joline Lowe was working at Methodist Hospital-Stone Oak in San Antonio in March when its first COVID patient arrived. An RN for more than a decade, she hadn’t seen anything like it – how the patient deteriorated and how the entire body was affected.
“There’s a lot to learn, and a lot to teach the families about, too,” she says. “And because people can’t visit, we had to count on phone calls and Facetime and work with the patients in the isolation room to help them remember that their families are still with them and they’re not alone.”
The new Galen instructor, who teaches Med-Surg and Gerontology for the LVN program, also had to remind her colleagues that they were not alone, either.
She often spent time talking with other nurses through social media groups. It was in one of those groups that she saw a painting by Meagan “Meags” McGinty of a nurse in a medical mask, face shield, and scrubs that resonated with her. When Joline showed it to her mother-in-law, she responded simply: “I can do that for you.”
The 71-year-old Jeannie Hope Gibson created her own piece, drawing her daughter-in-law freehand in pastel on paper in her medical mask, holding the hand of a COVID patient.
The piece (pictured here) is called “The Gift of Love.” The inscription on the back reads, “To Joline with love and respect for being there during this troubled time. For all that you risked, for the comfort you provided, thank you. Mama J.”
Now, the artwork hangs in Joline’s home office in San Antonio, where she teaches Galen students and thinks often of all her former colleagues, still working every day to help people as only nurses can.
Rear Admiral Aisha K. Mix, Chief Nurse Officer for the Office of the Surgeon General and Health and Human Services, is sharing a special congratulatory message with the newest graduates of Galen College of Nursing.
“Greetings Galen College! It is with tremendous excitement that I join you virtually to convey my congratulations on a job well done. As you are well aware, completion of a rigorous nursing program is no small task, but you did it,” RADM Nix says in her virtual address. “By design, your studies at Galen have prepared you with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to care for patients, to care for their families, and all the communities across the nation and in this world. The current pandemic has certainly highlighted the impact and the contributions of nurses to the health and wellbeing of our country. Representing all levels of nurses, you will now join a workforce that nears 5 million members. It also reflects the largest group of healthcare professions in the United States, and the most trusted. I am honored to be one of the first to welcome you into your new role within the nursing profession.”
As Chief Nurse Officer, RADM Nix provides advisement on the recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention, and career development of thousands of nurse professionals. She is responsible to provide leadership to more than 4,000 Public Health Service (PHS) and civilian nurses. With 25 years in nursing, she is an experienced clinician, public health practitioner, educator, and emergency manager.
In support of the PHS, RADM Mix served as Deputy Team Commander and Team Commander during several deployment operations. In addition, she deployed to Monrovia, Liberia, to support the 2014 Ebola Response and assumed the role of Field Operations Policy Lead in the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
RADM Mix is a board-certified National Healthcare Disaster Professional and graduated with her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Nursing from Hampton University. She completed her Master of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins University and received her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, with a focus on educational leadership, from Case Western Reserve University.
We are honored to have her address our amazing Galen students as they embark on the incredible journey of nursing. Congratulations to all our graduates!
Galen Alumni and Online RN to BSN Student Serves on the Front Lines of New York City’s Coronavirus Care
We all know nursing is a calling. But for Galen Alumni Morgan Glynn, it also came to mean calling… and calling, and calling…45 minutes’ worth of redialing the Krucial Staffing Health hotline to sign up for deployment as an ICU nurse in New York City at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Morgan – who has an ICU background and was working with Coronavirus patients at Baptist Health marveled a little when she remembered the Krucial signup process, and was amazed at the number of nurses who wanted to sign up.
But get through, and get signed up, Morgan did. Two days later, she found herself at the Louisville airport with bags, ticket, and laptop (so she could continue her Online RN to BSN coursework), saying goodbye to her family.
“Once I got through, they basically told me I had 48 hours to deploy to New York. From there, she had just a few details, including the name of a hotel in New York City. “I was definitely nervous. I didn’t know what to think; I didn’t know what to do; how it was going to go, or anything!”
Morgan comes from a nursing family. Born in Louisville and raised in Southern Indiana, she watched her mother, Sherri Wilson, work in healthcare since she was a small girl. Sherri also graduated from Galen, as did Morgan’s sister-in-law, Karen Buckley.
Karen was also on the New York assignment, but was staying in a different hotel and deployed at a different hospital. In fact, so many nurses came into town that nurses from Krucial Staffing alone filled as many as six hotels. A friend of Morgan’s was there, too, but again, at a different hotel and a different hospital. “So basically, I didn’t know a single person there,” she said.
After an orientation and a three-day on-call period, Morgan received her assignment: the night shift at a hospital in Brooklyn. “April 11th, that was my first day. From there, we did 21 days, with two days off in those 21 days.”
We asked Morgan to describe her first day. “It was hectic. The staffing company staffed an entire unit of ICU Coronavirus. So it was…it was different. Okay, actually, it was chaos!” she laughs. “We were all with the same recruiting company, but we didn’t know each other. We were from all over the country. We got onto a bus, went to the hospital, got off the bus, and met our unit leader.”
“They had transformed a recovery unit into a makeshift ICU. I think there were five of us there. They gave us our PPE … gowns, N95 masks, shoe covers, hair covers, gloves, face shields, everything. We put it on … at first it took us like, 20 to 25 minutes to get it all on in the right order so we wouldn’t contaminate it taking it off, but as the days went on we got quicker.”
“So we get our PPE on, and we go into the unit, and there’s not one floor nurse to be found. It was kind of scary. There was a charge nurse, and some doctors, but the day shift had already left to catch their bus.”
“We lined up, we got our patients–we each had as many as four patients, which is on the high side for an ICU,–and at that point it was ‘Fend for yourself!’
“It was a big ‘seek and find,’ that’s all I can describe it as. If you needed some tape, you had to look for it in every single drawer. If you just needed a bag of saline to hang, you just had to go around the whole unit and look for it. Nobody knew. So you know, things took a lot longer to do.”
“But, I think as time went on we were a great unit. We all meshed pretty well, teamwork-wise. We made sure the patients were safe– that was our first priority. And then just teamwork really helped us get through our shifts.”
“Even though it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before–they haven’t made a clinical for that yet!–overall, it was a good experience.”
Work nights, school days
You’d think that nights on a Coronavirus ICU ward would be enough for anyone. But not for Morgan. When she wasn’t working or sleeping, she was doing her Online RN to BSN coursework.
“The first couple of weeks I’d do as much as I could. I preplanned my papers, I’d write out my discussions for that week and the next week. I wanted to do just as much as I could early, in case I got tired in the end. That way, I’d almost have things ready.”
“I’d get home at 10, go to bed around 11. Then I’d wake up at 3:30, do homework until 5:30, and catch the bus at 6:45. I did a little every day; the sleeping was very light. But the coursework helped keep the boredom away.”
This schedule didn’t leave much time for anything else, though she did go over to the Brooklyn Bridge on a break. She also walked around Times Square on “food runs.”
Morgan says those little trips really made an impact. “Our hotel was on Times Square, so I saw it every day. It was really, really eerie when I first got there. I would go outside to grab food or whatever, and I would literally be the only person out there–he one, single person. It was weird, because I’d been to New York before, and there were people shoulder-to-shoulder. But not this time…not one person outside, except myself. “
Morgan came home in early June, just in time for graduation. Now she’s settling back into her life with her husband and two dogs, and is looking forward to traveling as soon as she can. Among other things, she’ll be planning a trip with her “new best friend,” another nurse she met during her time in New York.
And would she do it again?
“Yes. I basically made up my mind when I left.. I wanted to stay longer. If worse comes to worst, like they need us back, or need our help again, I’ll go back in a heartbeat.”
Congratulations to you, Morgan. On your commitment and great work providing care to those who need it most, your safe return, and for continuing your nursing education through it all. We, your colleagues at Galen couldn’t be more proud.. With nurses like you on the front lines, things can only get better.
Alumni Spotlight: Thurman Eversole, Galen Hazard campus
“I never thought I’d be able to become a nurse. And now I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life but nursing.”
Thurman Eversole never saw himself becoming a nurse. After dropping out of high school and obtaining his GED, he was working a seemingly endless series of minimum-wage jobs, because he honestly believed he wasn’t smart enough to do anything else.
Today, Thurman’s career with Appalachian Regional Healthcare proves otherwise, in a big way. He is a highly respected registered staff nurse in the Intensive Care unit at Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, earning certifications in advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) and the trauma-nursing core course (TNCC). He also affects the lives of future nurses, sharing his skills and positive attitude in his role as teacher and mentor to Galen students who gain clinical experience on his unit.
Born and raised in Hazard, Kentucky, Thurman first began working in Security at Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH). That’s where Thurman first felt the spark that became a life-changing flame.
Thurman says, “It was through my interactions with the nurses and witnessing their care and compassion for others that encouraged me. I worked my way up through the company until I found the courage in myself to pursue nursing. It was through the encouragement of others that I was able to believe in myself.”
Thurman enrolled at Galen’s Hazard campus, and graduated with his ADN in July of 2019. At graduation, his fellow students selected him as the recipient of the Marjorie Perrin “Essence of Nursing/Human Touch” award. He has been working at Hazard ARH Regional ever since.
This fall, Thurman will return to Galen to pursue his BSN, and expects to complete it in Fall 2021. Eventually, he aims to continue his critical-care nursing career in a metropolitan trauma-certified hospital.
Thurman says, “Galen has been essential in my journey to becoming a nurse. If it were not for the support of the instructors and staff throughout the program, I would not be where I’m at today. Not only did I gain the knowledge to pass my boards, but I also learned how to confidently care for my patients and their families, no matter where my journey takes me. I like to think that I planted a seed when I started at Galen a seed of compassion and the drive to become a nurse. That seed was well-grounded in Galen, as they have successfully graduated over 20,000 students. With their continued cultivation of my education throughout the program, I grew into a tree of knowledge. They not only gave me the tools to survive the storms of life, they instilled the mindset to thrive. Now, I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else with my life but nursing.”
Congratulations to you, Thurman, and thank you for your dedication. More important, thank you for deciding to believe in yourself. We at Galen, and the students you mentor, and most important of all, your patients – will be forever grateful.