Faculty Feature: Training the new wave of in-demand nurses | Stark State College | North Canton, Ohio
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Faculty Feature: Training the new wave of in-demand nurses

Rachel Anderson, MSN, RN, nursing faculty instructor

Meet Rachel Anderson, MSN, RN, nursing faculty instructor

Rachel Anderson, MSN, RN, has always enjoyed taking care of others. It’s a calling that fits perfectly in her role as a nursing faculty instructor at Stark State College. Here, she explains what she enjoys most as an instructor – and as a nurse – and describes what sets Stark State’s nursing program apart.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your role.

A: I work with other nursing faculty members to promote student learning across the associate degree nurse (ADN) program. I’ve primarily taught in the first-semester fundamentals nursing course, as well as the second-semester med-surg 1 course. I also love working with students in the skills lab setting. That’s where I can promote a safe learning space for students to practice critical nursing skills they will use every day. I have also been learning about the clinical coordinator role. This role encompasses many duties, including organizing student groups to attend clinicals at various hospitals and other area clinical sites, as well as working with all of the clinical instructional assistants who act as instructors in the clinical setting.

Q: What do you enjoy most?

I love the “lightbulb” moments. They’re one of my favorite things about teaching. It’s great to see students understand what’s being discussed or make a connection between concepts. That’s what teaching is all about – guiding students to understand complex concepts and applying them to the nursing practice.

Q: What initially drew you to the nursing field?

A: I’ve always enjoyed caring for others. But my biggest influence was my mom. She’s been a nurse for almost 40 years. She’s also a clinical instructional assistant here at Stark State. She’s been my biggest role model for the type of nurse and educator I strive to be. I have fond memories of visiting her at work as a child to have lunch together, as well as bring-your-kid-to-work days.

Q: Have you always worked in higher ed?

A: I have not. I started working as a nurse at a local hospital in the float pool. I was there for about seven years. I did work as a clinical instructional assistant in Stark State’s nursing program for three years prior to accepting a full-time position in fall 2022. After I transitioned to full time, I left the float pool and became a wound care nurse at a local nursing facility. While wound care is something many nurses don’t like, I enjoy it, because I can take time with each patient to meet their needs. This also allows me to keep my nursing skills current while teaching nursing students here.

Q: What are the strengths of Stark State’s nursing program?

A: One our biggest strengths is that our student population is so diverse. This allows for great discussions encompassing many backgrounds and lived experiences. Another strength is that all of the faculty members want the students to succeed. We work well together to help students achieve their dreams of becoming a nurse.

Q: Stark State offers several nursing programs – ADN, practical nursing, RN completion for LPN, RN completion for paramedic. Why is it beneficial to students that we offer these different pathways?

A: I think the different nursing programs are what set Stark State apart from other colleges. These different pathways meet students where they’re at so that prior learning achievements are taken into consideration on their journey to earning their nursing degree. Because our student population is so diverse with varying backgrounds, these different programs give students options.

Q: From your perspective, explain the benefits of earning a nursing degree via the community college path.

A: The nursing shortage is a critical topic in the health care industry. Earning a nursing degree at Stark State allows students to do so in a relatively short time frame, while gaining critical knowledge, concepts and skills to prepare them to enter the workforce and be great nurses.

Q: What’s one thing that students are always surprised to learn about our nursing program?

A: The flexibility within the programs. There are the traditional day cohorts that have classes during the day and clinicals during the week. But we also have an evening/weekend program that offers courses in the evening with clinicals on the weekend. The LPN to RN program is also available at both our main campus and Stark State College Akron.

Q: Describe your approach when it comes to helping students succeed.

A: I always meet the students where they’re at, and together we discuss how I can best help them. I tailor teaching methods to meet student needs to promote success. I must find creative ways to motivate them to learn, while keeping in mind that, in addition to being a nursing student, they also have lives outside of school that impact their learning and success.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who was interested in learning more about the nursing field?

A: Nursing school requires a lot of work and dedication! The friends you make are unlike any other friendships you will find. Support from friends and family is a must to help you focus and be successful in your nursing courses. But once you’ve completed your degree, earned your license and become a nurse, it’s such a rewarding field. Nursing is so diverse, and there are so many opportunities to work in different areas.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

A: I don’t have any one destination in mind. I would actually like to travel around the world to different spots of interest and iconic locations. Immersing myself in the local culture and learning about each location would be so much fun!

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