Dr. Lin Hughes is the Dean of Nursing at Nebraska Methodist College. Hughes has extensive experience in both nursing and education. She has worked for 42 years as a nurse and 30 years as an educator. Hughes took time this week to discuss her career, advice for nursing students and what makes NMC special.
What is your background in nursing, and what has been your career path to becoming the Dean of Nursing at NMC?
Oh my, where to start? My husband was a pilot in the Air Force so we moved about every three years. Nursing is wonderful as a career because of its flexibility. I started out as a surgical nurse in an eight-room operating room in Colorado Springs, Colo., then became the charge nurse on an orthopedic-neurologic unit in Valdosta, Ga. I took critical care courses and next became the charge nurse in the pediatric unit, emergency department and intensive care unit at a rural hospital in Caribou, Maine, for more than three years.
We moved to Rapid City, S.D., where I worked on a progressive step-down unit and started my journey in teaching. I started my MSN (educator focus) and taught at the diploma school associated with Rapid City Regional Hospital, then at the diploma school in Dayton, Ohio. Our next move was to Moreno Valley, Cal., where I taught nursing at Riverside Community College and finished my MSN at Loma Linda University. I also worked supplemental in intensive care units there and became the supervisor at Riverside Nursefinders.
Our next military orders were to Offutt Air Force Base. I started in the MICU at Methodist Hospital and started teaching at Nebraska Methodist College. I continued to work supplemental in the ICU and teaching full time. In 2002, I received my PhD from UNMC. In 2006, I became the BSN Nursing Director at NMC and was mentored by Dr. Marilyn Valerio. In 2012, I became the Dean of Nursing.
You’ve worked both as a nurse and an educator for much of your career. How did you manage to do both?
I have worked for the last 22 plus years in the Methodist Hospital critical care unit and became certified in critical care 20 years ago. About nine months ago, I decided to devote the time to my present role as dean and gave my notice. I worked casual status/supplemental in ICU while teaching at NMC. The critical care supervisor was very flexible with my schedule on the weekends because of my full time position at the college. I thought that it was important to keep my skills current while teaching as an educator.
What is the most common piece of advice you give to your nursing students?
I just spoke to the NRS445 and NRS446ACE classes about the importance of forming a plan for future education and promoted lifelong learning. I stressed the impact that joining professional organizations can have on a career in keeping abreast of best practices, developing leadership skills and networking. The greatest advice for our nursing students would be to keep caring, knowledge and safety at the center of their nursing practice.
What sets Nebraska Methodist College apart?
NMC is special because of our focus on the individual student and wanting to develop every student into the best healthcare practitioner — one with a heart to care for each individual patient.
What do you like to do outside of your job at NMC?
My family of four children, four grandchildren and husband is my main focus outside of NMC. We do enjoy each other — whether playing soccer in the backyard, watching the grandchildren play sports, or hiking at our cabin in Colorado (despite the recent 12 inches of rain and no roads). I love to read, cook, entertain and work out at the YMCA whenever time permits.
Being a college student often means living on a tight budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Omaha is a hub of things to do that won’t break your bank. If you are looking to get out and about without spending a lot of dough, put down that Ramen, because we’ve got some great ideas for you:
- Ride the slides at the Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall. Seasoned sliders bring wax paper for extra speed. After that, head over to the Old Market to take in Omaha culture at its finest.
- Take your picture standing in two states on the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge. Then enjoy all the great parks and attractions Omaha’s riverfront has to offer.
- Be inspired at one of Omaha’s art galleries. The Joslyn Art Museum , the Bemis Center and Hot Shops all have free admission. Also, don’t miss Artsarben later this month at Stinson Park.
- Air guitar to some of Omaha’s best bands. Catch a free concert at Midtown Crossing or go see a local show at the Slowdown or the Waiting Room — both popular all-ages venues. Some local shows are as cheap as $5.
- Ride like the wind down the Keystone Trail — just a half-mile from campus — or explore Omaha on one of its many other trails.
- Make a hole in one. Forget about green fees — play a round of disc golf at Seymour Smith Park at 72nd and Harrison streets.
- Pay homage to our country’s veterans at Memorial Park. Memorial Park is a great place for a walk or ride. It’s also an excellent spot to go sledding in the winter.
- Pick up a spare at one of Omaha’s many bowling alleys. Bowling is a great group pastime that doesn’t break the bank, and West Lanes bowling alley is just a mile and a half from campus near 72nd and Dodge streets.
- Shop for groceries at an Omaha farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets near campus include Aksarben Village, Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Midtown Crossing, Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. Some of the farmer’s markets have free entertainment and, best of all, free samples!
You may have already read our previous blog talking about What is a surgical tech? so we thought in honor of 2013 National Surgical Technologist Week, we would highlight the successes and insights of Nebraska Methodist College's very own student, Molly Bouc.
Molly is a second year Surgical Technology student from Lincoln, Nebraska. She is set to graduate with her Associate of Science in Surgical Technology in May 2014.
Hands On in the O.R.
Surgical technology is an exciting, hands-on, impactful career choice. "One of the main reasons, I want to be a surgical technologist is that I like the overall idea of seeing something new each day walking into the operating room. With every person's anatomy being different, you never quite know what to expect once a surgery begins on a patient, " said Molly.
"What solidified the idea for me was while attending a Medical Youth Leadership Conference, I was able to witness a live feed of a knee replacement. While others squirmed at the site, I was immediately drawn to the image. From there, the journey began in seeking out how I, too, could be a part of such a miraculous experience."
Learn It. Do It.
Education is important, like any career, to gain the skills and knowledge to be a successful scrub tech. Some of the most popular courses are those that take place in high-tech labs that give students an opportunity to learn and practice their skills in a learning environment.
"I’m a hands on learner and love getting involved in the action. So, having the opportunity to practice the skills we learned in a lab setting overall connected the picture for me on a larger scale."
It's All About Family.
Nebraska Methodist College takes pride in our learning environment. We're a family -- here to support you and help you succeed in the classroom and beyond. But according to Molly, that is what makes the surgical technology profession all the better.
"I think what I find most intriguing about the surgical technology profession is the family atmosphere. Working side by side with one another to get a task done gives an individual the feeling of being a part of a team and the feeling of accomplishment that goes along with it."
Interested in Surgical Technology?
If you're interested in the profession, come visit our campus. See the labs, the tools, the experiences of a surgical technologist. Join us for one of our official Visit Days, where you can talk to an admissions representative, see campus and meet students and faculty.
Watch a Video about Surgical Technology
Whether you are looking for a challenge, want to make a difference, or are interested in meeting new people, Nebraska Methodist College has a variety of student organizations offering students a number of opportunities.
NMC’s student organizations range in focus, giving students a chance to be involved on campus, gain more knowledge about their chosen career path, or grow their personal faith.
Among their many activities, students involved in these organizations serve the campus community, organize events benefitting local non-profits and attend events focused on profession development.
According to Erika Pritchard, coordinator of Student Leadership Development at NMC, being involved in a student organization is a great way to learn skills outside the classroom that students will take with them into their careers.
“Through student organizations, students learn how to be leaders, work in teams, communicate effectively and make a difference in the lives of others — all highly important skills in the health care field,” says Pritchard.
NMC offers the following student organizations:
- NMC Sorority is a social and service-oriented sorority open to all NMC students. The sorority promotes personal development and intellectual growth and works to build lasting bonds of friendship among students though community service, chapter meetings and social events.
- Methodist Allied Health Student Association (MAHSA) is open to all students enrolled in allied health programs. The organization is focused on professional development and community service, and is divided into Physical Therapy Assistant, Radiology, Respiratory and Surgical Technology chapters.
- Methodist Student Nurses’ Association (MSNA) prepares nursing students for the professional field and offers networking opportunities at the local, state, and national levels. MSNA is open to all nursing students.
- Campus Crusade for Christ is a Christian interdenominational organization with chapters on college campuses throughout the world. The organization offers bible studies, missionary outreach trips, leadership retreats, joint events with local chapters and other social events.
- Pathfinders is an opportunity for students to learn about themselves and others through team building activities and projects, including the planning of Carpe Diem — a summer overnight event for new students.
- Student Government offers leadership opportunities for students interested in serving the NMC student body. Student Government is a medium of communication between the faculty, administration and students. Officers are elected each spring for the following academic year.
- Student Housing Association promotes a positive environment for students, which encourages the appreciation of individuality and respect for diversity.
- Ambassadors is a selected group of students who assist Admissions and Developmental Services staff in representing NMC to the public at college functions, recruitment activities, and orientations.
For freshman, the first few weeks of college are often a combination of fun and stress. You are living on your own for the first time, meeting new people and — most importantly — learning a lot of new things to set you on the path toward your career. Any one of those things can be either exciting or overwhelming, depending on your point of view.
It is important to get off to a good start and settle into your new life as a college student in the first weeks. Here are a few pointers to help you start off strong:
- Go to class. You have probably heard this a hundred times by now, but this is the single most important thing you can do at college. It’s why here are here. One college class is filled with a lot more information than your average high school class, so attending each one is important.
- Make a schedule and don’t procrastinate. Keep a planner of when you have class and when your assignments are due. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to study or finish an assignment.
- Meet new people. College is a chance for you to make new friends who share your passion. Your new friends will also become your support group when things get stressful. Seek out social activities or student organizations on campus where you can get to know your fellow students.
- Stick around on the weekends. The first weekends of the school year are a great time to connect with your new friends outside of the classroom.
- Explore your surroundings. If you are new to Omaha, go see a movie, watch a concert or go walk around downtown and get acclimated to the area.
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy and exercise to avoid the “freshman 15.” If you’re looking for a place to work out, try Nebraska Methodist College’s fitness center. Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
- Have fun! College is a great experience on many levels. Enjoy it and make the most of your opportunities.
The Fall 2013 session of online courses recently began at Nebraska Methodist College. We thought it appropriate during this back-to-school season to share some helpful tips to being successful in the virtual classroom:
Make your online course a priority. Take your online course just as seriously as if you were in an on-campus class. Your GPA can’t tell the difference. Be aware of all your assignments that are due — not just tomorrow, but over the coming weeks.
Manage your time. Online classes are great for working professionals with unpredictable schedules, but make sure to schedule study time every day to log into your online course. Try to set a routine study time each day. Work and family interruptions happen, but the routine will help you study consistently.
Make a study space. Study in a place where you can get away from distractions. Doing your coursework in an at-home office setting or at your local library is a good alternative to the couch in front of the TV or trendy coffee shop.
Read your course syllabus closely. It will lay out clearly the course expectations, grading, required textbooks, learning tools at your disposal, and required hardware and software for the course. Your syllabus is your course manual.
Back up your work. Before submitting your assignments, save them on your computer and back them up on a flash drive. Sometimes glitches happen and backing your work up multiple times will protect you from having to do it over.
Be involved. In online courses, participation is often a big part of your grade. It’s also where learning takes place. Login every day and take time to be part of the discussion.
Have a study buddy. Make a friend in the course with whom you can discuss questions and assignments either offline or through other channels.
Ask questions. If you are having trouble with an assignment, don’t be afraid to ask your professor about it. If you are having software problems, ask our Education Technology Department. (Have questions right now? Visit our Online FAQ.)
Use what you learn! Take what you learn in your online course and apply it in your real-world career.
August marks the start of the school year for many Nebraska Methodist College students, with the fall semester of on-campus classes beginning Aug. 19. Whether you are a freshman moving to campus for the first time or a returning upperclassman, here are a few tips to help you make a smooth adjustment to college life:
- Adjust your sleep habits now. If you’ve been in summer vacation mode, you may have gotten used to staying out and getting up at later times. Going to bed a little earlier now and setting your alarm clock for when you’ll be getting up for class will help you be alert and awake for your first day.
- Pack your things for moving day. If you will be moving to Josie’s Village or somewhere else near campus, it’s a good idea to start packing your things early to help avoid a stressful moving day. Packing early will also help you decide if you can make it all in one trip or determine if you’ll need help moving.
- Buy textbooks and school supplies. You don’t want to be the one borrowing a pen and a piece of paper on the first day of class. Stop into the NMC Bookstore to buy your books and stock up on supplies. Don't forget to get some NMC swag, while you're at it!
- Upgrade your technology. If you have a computer, now is a good time to perform any needed upgrades and updates or to install any new software you’ll need for the school year. You might also want to remove any unnecessary programs that are slowing down your computer.
- Have your car checked out. Whether you’ll be living on-campus or commuting, give your car a once-over before school starts. Change the oil, check the tires and have any needed maintenance done to help you avoid any preventable car problems during the school year.
- Stock up on supplies for your new home. Make sure you’ve got a good supply of all the necessary toiletries. Having some snacks on hand is also a good idea.
- Spend time with family. Make room for some “quality time” with your parents and siblings before classes begin. When school starts, they will miss you, and you will miss them too.
- Connect with your fellow students. If you’re a returning student, plan a get-together with a few of your close classmates. If you are a freshman, make contact with your roommate and get acquainted.
- Say goodbye to summer. If you are someone who absolutely must make the most out of your summer, get in one last hurrah. Go to the lake, lay by the pool or enjoy one last summer festival with your friends. (But don’t worry, fun is still allowed after classes start.)
- Set goals. Come to college knowing what you want to accomplish. Writing down a few goals will help you stay focused on what you want to achieve, whether that is maintaining a high GPA or pursuing a certain area of your career field.
What are you doing to get ready for the school year?
Let’s face it. You finished nursing school and now you got your first big job.You’re feeling good about yourself... on top of the world. As the weeks start to pass, you start thinking that you missed the "survival skills" class during your college career.
We've rounded up a few Nebraska Methodist College grads to give some (humorous) input about what they didn't learn in nursing school.
How to survive the night shift.
You never knew how little sleep you can survive on until you work the night shift. Sleep schedules are constantly being turned around. You do a ton of “snacking” all night to keep yourself awake. It’s not all about giving people their pills and tucking them in—crazy stuff happens at night! It’s bizarre to want to go get a nightcap with your co-workers at 8 am.
“Gross Story” Etiquette.
Unless you are surrounded by other nurses or healthcare professionals at all times, it is typically not okay to discuss all the gross things you see at work on a daily basis. We just assume everyone else thinks those gross things are acceptable dinner conversation.
Never buy white shoes. Ever!
I still think it is crazy they require nursing students to wear white shoes in the messiest profession around. When you are dealing with the kind of “clean-ups” nurses deal with daily, the last thing you want is a pair of bright white tennis shoes. The all white uniforms still baffle me!
It is not unrealistic to hold my bladder for 6-12 hours a day. Seriously… a nurse never has time to pee. There should be bladder training programs in nursing school.
How to eat on the go.
Nurses don’t get to eat or drink either- which is good for the above bladder issues. You have to learn to eat a bite here, a saltine there- just to keep your blood sugar up.
It's dark in there.
Often times you need a flashlight when putting in a catheter.
Nurses eat their young...kind of.
It's not really true in the sense that everyone thinks. Nurses don’t have TIME to eat their young. We have time for working as a team, caring for our patients and a whole lot of charting. If other nurses can’t keep up, well, the ship is sailing without them.
Gas Mask Etiquette.
Often times when you're inserting a suppository, a patient will pass gas in your face. It took me awhile to figure out how maintain my composure and not let my gag reflex take over.
It's just general knowledge that you're going to deal with different people with different personalities. But being able to work with grouchy doctors with multiple personalities is something that takes fine practice. You have little contact with REAL doctors in school so I was quickly surprised by the working relationships I would form with them.
Making a Difference.
We all know that we will make a difference in our patients' lives. But until you really feel that and see it in their eyes, you just can't teach it in a classroom.
No nursing school can teach students what it's like to live nursing every day. Nurses are lifetime learners and continue to build on their knowledge base. Nurses see it all but it takes a career to do it.
Thank you to Jillian Plymesser, BSN, RN, Kristin Markel, BSN, RN and Annie Bowman, MA, BSN, RN for contributing.
In an effort to control costs and improve public health, the culture of our nation’s healthcare is changing from one of treatment to one of prevention. That same attitude is being adopted across the country by companies that are feeling the bite of health insurance premiums into their profits and organizations that are seeing preventable diseases taking significant tolls on their communities.
As an organization, Nebraska Methodist College is no different than companies from the corporate sector. We have the same goals to keep our workforce healthy and well. But as a college, we have the opportunity to not only practice workplace wellness but we also educate the future health promotion professionals.
So what is a health promotion manager?
This emphasis on prevention has created demand for health promotion managers who are responsible for designing and overseeing wellness programs and initiatives in corporate, public and nonprofit settings.
In a corporate setting, a health promotion manager might lead an employee wellness program. Wellness programs aim to reduce healthcare costs, improving a company or organization’s bottom line. The programs also work to ensure a happy, healthy workforce, which can have a number of positive effects on productivity.
In public and nonprofit settings, a health promotion manager could be responsible for overseeing a publicly- or grant-funded initiative focused on improving public health in their community. Such initiatives have become common across the nation targeting health concerns such as obesity and diabetes, among others.
How We Do Wellness
Nebraska Methodist College has implemented one of the more successful wellness programs in the country, according to the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA). The WELCOA Well Workplace Awards recognize companies nationwide for quality and excellence in worksite health promotion.
WELCOA designated Nebraska Methodist College a Platinum Well Workplace, the highest level of recognition. Thirty seven organizations earned the Platinum distinction nationwide this year. NMC, the only Nebraska college to earn the platinum designation, was one of the first three in the nation to earn the platinum award with its inception in 2001.
See the video shown during the 2013 WELCOA Well Workplace Awards Luncheon:
Health Promotion Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health promotions employment opportunities are expected to grow by 37 percent over the next decade, out pacing many other careers. Careers in health promotion range in pay. Here are some examples of average salaries for jobs in health promotion:
Health and wellness coaches — $41,000
Wellness program consultants — $61,000
Wellness program specialists/coordinators — $65,000
Wellness program directors — $70,000
Health Promotion Education Options
Nebraska Methodist College’s Health Promotion Management online master’s program prepares students for a variety of careers in health promotion. The program combines health and wellness concepts with theories in business and human relations principles, financial, organizational, management and communications.
That’s because health promotions managers need to be well rounded. They are expected to be able to implement wellness programs for both individuals and large groups. They also need an understanding of how their programs affect a company’s bottom line in order to make the case for their work from a business perspective to the CEO.
NMC students who earn a degree in health promotion management learn how to assess wellness situations in any environment. They can implement programs, demonstrate to management measurable and beneficial changes in employee wellness to have a direct impact on an organization's bottom line.
NMC’s Health Promotion Management program is flexible, allowing students to balance education with their personal and professional lives. Courses are five weeks long, with one week off before the start of another course. The program, which requires 33 total credit hours, can be completed in as little as 16 months.
Today’s surgeons perform advanced procedures that save lives in ways we may have never thought possible years ago. But surgeons can’t do it alone.
So what is a surgical tech?
At the surgeon’s side is the surgical technologist, more commonly known as surgical tech. Surgical techs are the right-hand person of surgeons in the operating room. They set up the operating room for surgical procedures, making sure that all needed tools and equipment are available and working properly. Surgical techs then assist surgeons during surgery, doing everything from handing them instruments to cleaning and closing wounds.
Being a surgical tech can be fun and exciting, but it may not be for everyone. The job in many cases is not for people squeamish at the sight of blood. While some surgeries are routine, others can be stressful situations demanding quick and efficient work in order to help save a life. However, the job is equally rewarding to know that you have helped to make a difference in someone’s life.
“You may be doing surgery on a patient who has a brain tumor, and it is a great feeling when the surgeon is able to successfully remove the patient’s tumor allowing them to lead a normal life,” says Christy Grant, Nebraska Methodist College Surgical Technology program director. “Knowing that you had part in that procedure and made a difference for that patient is amazing.”
Surgical Tech Skills Needed
Composure --Working in an OR can be a highly stressful. The ability to maintain calm and composed in high-pressure environments will help you be successful in this career.
Endurance -- as part of a surgical team, surgical technologists need to be comfortable standing on their feet for an extended period of time and have the ability to work quickly and accurately for long hours.
Details oriented -- Surg techs need to have the ability to pay close attention at all times to ensure procedures are performed safely and efficiently.
What is a surgical tech's salary?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median surgical tech salary in the U.S. in 2010 was $39,920 per year, with an average projected job growth until 2020 of 28 percent. Demand for surgical techs varies from area to area, but currently, the job is in high demand in the Omaha area with many job postings available.
Nebraska Methodist College’s Surgical Technology program offers students small class sizes that allow students more one-on-one learning opportunities with instructors. The program has affiliations with nearly every institute in Omaha to give students the chance to get a wide variety of experience in surgical specialties.
Nebraska Methodist College’s Surgical Technology program also has a 100-percent employment rate. Students often get jobs either before or soon after graduation.