By Dennis Joslin, PhD
President and CEO of Nebraska Methodist College
Who’s tired of talking about the Affordable Care Act (less affectionately known as Obamacare)? Not me. That’s because for healthcare educators, the discussion should be just beginning. Now that the debates have finished on Capitol Hill and the bugs are getting worked out of Healthcare.gov, the conversation should now focus on moving forward.
And that’s where healthcare educators come into play.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing healthcare on a fundamental level, affecting how insurance companies provide coverage, how care providers like hospitals and clinics operate, and how everyday consumers navigate the system. But what can’t be ignored is the role healthcare educators have in meeting the needs of tomorrow’s industry. As healthcare educators, we need to proactively work to identify and address industry demands resulting from the new law, and we need to be ready to prepare students for the new realities in healthcare.
One of the most important aspects of the new law is access to healthcare — access by those with pre-existing conditions and those who previously could not afford coverage. Now, millions of Americans have health insurance who didn’t before, giving them access for the first time to healthcare services. As many healthcare experts will tell you, that presents a major challenge because the healthcare industry is already dealing with shortages of doctors, nurses and health professionals in other disciplines. At the same time, the baby boomer population is aging, which is forecasted to increase demand for healthcare services in the next decade.
This is where we as health professions colleges and universities have a responsibility to respond to the demands of the healthcare industry. Colleges and universities can’t sit back and be content with their current healthcare offerings. Even though the ACA has opened the door to accessible healthcare, we haven’t solved the issue if enough healthcare providers aren’t available. Instead, we need to continue researching the needs of the industry and working to add and expand programs to meet those demands.
At our institution, Nebraska Methodist College, one example of this is our recently-added Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. We added the program because we saw a void in primary care providers in Nebraska and the region, especially in rural areas. Primary care providers are crucial in detecting illnesses and diseases in patients at early stages when care is both more effective and less costly. We found rural areas of the state are having a difficult time recruiting physicians; however, those roles can be filled by DNP-prepared family nurses practitioners. We felt that this type of education and skill set was really needed most in our state and aligned best with the ACA’s focus on preventative care.
Preparing more healthcare professionals is only half of the challenge. Health professions institutions need to work to place individuals in jobs and locations where they are needed most and can be successful. This means utilizing the networks of your health system, faculty and alumni to connect students to those careers. For instance, at Nebraska Methodist College, we have a rural health advisory committee that we work with in planning our curriculum. Many of those advisory members are willing to have students precept in their communities as part of their clinical experience. Those opportunities prepare students for what they will actually experience in that rural environment and can often lead to jobs.
In addition, healthcare educators need to accept the challenge from the ACA to improve care. Graduates should be prepared to provide care using the best evidence-based practices for each respective discipline. They also should be prepared with skills to engage patients in the care they are receiving and educate communities about prevalent health issues.
Lastly, graduates should recognize their role in helping their patients understand the ACA. For the average patient, the law can be very confusing, and health professionals should encourage patients to be informed healthcare consumers. While each one of us may not have all the answers, we can direct patients to the right resources where they can find the information they need.
Raising awareness about heart conditions has always been part of Jaime Waddingham’s life. As a paramedic, Waddingham was a first responder who to treated many patients dealing with heart problems. As an American Heart Association instructor, she taught others how to provide lifesaving aid to victims experiencing a variety of issues, including heart conditions. However, when Waddingham’s daughter, Landry, was born, heart conditions became a much more personal subject.
When Landry was born, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called ventricular septal defect, a hole in the wall between the ventricles of her heart. At just 9 months old, she had her first open heart surgery. Two months later, she had another surgery for a rare abdominal defect called situs inversus.
“I have always been passionate about the awareness of all types of heart issues,” Waddingham said. “However, with her defect, I have become even more passionate about awareness, especially for congenital heart defects.”
Today, Waddingham continues to teach about heart conditions and lifesaving as the ACLS/PALS instructor in Nebraska Methodist College’s Professional Development program. Together, she and Landry, now 7, team up to tell others about congenital heart defects and to inspire them not to be afraid of living life to the fullest despite a heart condition.
“Landry is such a strong, happy, sweet little girl. You would never guess anything is or has ever been wrong with her,” Waddingham said. “She embraces it and doesn’t let it slow her down.”
Together, they sell pins created by Landry as well as paper hearts to raise awareness for heart conditions and money for the American Heart Association. They also encourage people to participate in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, to be held May 10 at Miller’s Landing in Omaha.
Waddingham said seeing what Landry and so many other children have gone through makes her even more passionate about raising awareness of the need for more research about the conditions. While Landry lives a relatively normal day-to-day life, she sees a cardiologist each year for a checkup on her heart. At some point, Landry may have to undergo another heart surgery to finish patching the hole in her heart, and she may also need pacemaker. Waddingham hopes that future advancements will improve treatment for her daughter as well as other patients with heart defects.
“In light of American Heart Month, I just want people to be aware that there are a lot of people affected by both congenital heart defects and heart disease,” Waddingham said. “Heart problems really do not discriminate, and too many people are affected by them.”
Waddingham said evidence shows that research for congenital heart defects is underfunded.
According to the Children’s Heart Foundation, twice as many children die of congenital heart defects than all types of pediatric cancer combined; however, funding for pediatric cancer is five times greater than that for congenital heart defects.
Jaime and Landry have formed a team to walk at the American Heart Association Heart Walk on May 10. If you'd like to join their team, you can register below.
Nebraska Methodist College student Ashley Powers has a congenital heart defect, but you would probably never know it.
“I just don’t let it stop me from doing anything,” Powers said.
Powers was born with two holes in her heart, transposition of the great arteries and stenosis of the pulmonary valve. She had her first heart surgery when she was just five days old, and her second heart surgery at the age of 3.
But since then, Powers has lived a pretty normal life, including playing sports like volleyball, softball and track, and pursuing her dream of a career in nursing. That’s a message she likes to share with other children born with congenital heart defects as well as their parents. Powers’ message carries even more weight this month. February is American Heart Month, which is devoted to heart health awareness.
“Even though it’s been very hard and taken a lot of determination, we kids can do it,” Powers says. “We can still grow up and be whatever we want to be.”
Powers, who just celebrated her 22nd birthday Feb. 19, is currently proving that point. She is a student in Nebraska Methodist College’s traditional nursing program and currently works in the radiology department of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.
“I constantly get to see all the heart patients, and I absolutely love it,” she said. “I always want to help and talk with them and give them the hope that they need.”
Powers said her own experience of growing up and receiving regular checkups for her heart at Children’s is what inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.
“I really fell in love with nursing because it’s really such a caring point,” she said. “You are with the patient through everything.”
Powers said her inspiration is Jenny Strawn, a nurse at Children’s. Strawn has been Powers’ nurse since she was a day old. Powers still continues to see Strawn to this day when she goes in for her regular checkups.
To Powers, American Heart Month is a chance for people to take time to understand all kinds of heart ailments. She said people should understand that heart conditions can affect everyone — young and old, male and female — and they aren’t just limited to heart disease and heart attacks. However, as Powers illustrates in her own life, heart conditions don’t have to get in the way of living a normal life. With proper care and regular checkups, those with heart conditions can still live active lives and pursue their goals.
Ashley has formed a team to walk at the American Heart Association Heart Walk on May 10. If you'd like to join her team, you can register below.
Amy Clark, Ph.D., is Nebraska Methodist College’s new Dean of Health Professions, overseeing 19 undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. Clark has 16 years of experience working in healthcare and 12 years of experience in healthcare education. She took a moment this week to discuss her background in healthcare, advice for students and her life outside of Nebraska Methodist College.
What is your background as a health professional?
Prior to becoming a full-time instructor, I was a medical social worker and worked with pediatric and adult populations. My first job as a medical social worker was at Methodist Hospital in 1999, where I worked on the old Oncology floor. I transitioned to UNMC and became a member of the Bone Marrow Transplant team where I conducted psychosocial assessments for patients and filled in for the Liver Transplant Team. I truly was a member of a healthcare team, and by that I was fortunate to work with so many different disciplines and interact professionally with so many wonderful individuals within Allied Health.
What made you want to become a healthcare educator?
I have been asked, as a social worker, why I teach at healthcare institutions. To me it is a very simple answer — I truly love working within the medical field and with healthcare students. The very first class that I taught was a Healthcare Ethics course. Not only did the students love my social work stories, but I enjoyed introducing them to the many complicated scenarios that exist when working with patients and their families. There is no other time in a patient’s life where they are exposed to people who will see them when they are in such a vulnerable state. The role of a healthcare professional at that moment is so vast that instinct alone is not good enough. You truly have to go back to your training, clinical, and practicums and put into practice what you have been taught. It is a powerful thing to know as an educator that your students are responsible for caring for someone in their most stressful and intimate moments.
What are the advantages of pursuing careers in Allied Health?
There are so many advantages to working within an Allied Health profession. Students are now savvier about the cost and applicability of their education. To be able to have a “career in a year” as some of our certificate and associate programs allow is very appealing. The expectation now for many is that education does not end after your senior year in high school. We have so many options that are perfect for students who feel that desire to “help people” by working in the health profession, but don’t want the debt associated with a four-year degree.
What advice do you have for students considering a career in Allied Health?
My advice for any student, specifically one considering a profession in Allied Health, is to do a little research in terms of the professions that are “growing” and hiring now. You will often find that many of the careers are within Allied Health, and the demand will only increase. For on-campus students interested in Nebraska Methodist College, touring our campus will speak for itself.
Nebraska Methodist College truly sets itself apart from other local colleges and universities by having an office devoted to Student Health, many individual study rooms and state-of-the-art simulation areas. The Josie Harper Campus is an amazing facility with such great people on staff to go along with it.
What do you like to do outside of your job at Nebraska Methodist College?
I have three very active children — Jack, Luke and Kate — who really keep my time wrapped up, and I love every minute of it. We live in a small town outside of Omaha, so they are involved in every sport that is offered up to them. My sons are wrapping up basketball season, and my daughter, at seven years old, is already talking about the volleyball camps she wants to be in this summer. They are currently my hobby, although I love to cook and am training for a half marathon in the fall.
Imagine walking into a hospital waiting room where you don’t speak the same language as anyone on staff. You would have extreme difficulty telling a nurse or a doctor about your symptoms or understanding your prescribed treatment. For many in the rapidly growing Latino populations across our state and nation, this is the reality of our healthcare system.
Recent studies project our nation’s population to be 29 percent Latino by 2050. Research also suggests that Nebraska’s Latino population is expected to triple by 2050, accounting for 24 percent of the state’s overall population. Health professionals need to be prepared to serve growing Latino populations with individuals who may speak little to no English.
With that in mind, Nebraska Methodist College has introduced its new Spanish for Healthcare Professionals minor. The minor prepares nursing and Allied Health students to better interact with and serve Spanish-speaking patients. Graduates with the minor will be able to do a number of important tasks in Spanish, including taking a patient history, doing a patient assessment, developing a care plan for the patient, and presenting patient and care plan information to other Spanish-speaking health professionals.
By obtaining a Healthcare Spanish minor, graduates will make themselves more marketable to prospective employers. The minor will position students favorably for jobs in hospitals, clinics and community settings that serve large Spanish-speaking populations.
The Spanish for Healthcare Professionals minor is a total of 18 credit hours. The minor requires students to take six 3-credit courses over two years. Two courses are online, while four others are on campus.
Nebraska Methodist College congratulates students who were recently named to the Dean’s List for the Fall 2013 semester. The Dean’s List recognizes students who are achieving at high levels academically. To qualify for Nebraska Methodist College’s Dean’s List, degree-seeking students need a 3.75 semester grade point average (GPA) or better and must be enrolled in 12 or more credit hours.
Here are a few tips about how to make the Dean’s List:
- Go to class. Unless you have a real reason to miss class, you should try to go to every single session. Missing just one class could mean losing out on important information that you will need for an upcoming assignment or exam.
- Get to know your professors. Ask them when you have questions about an assignment. Engage them in discussion about their expertise and background. You may have the same professors more than once throughout college, so building a relationship will help you clearly understand their expectations.
- Take good notes. Write down all the crucial information you can during class. Also, consider highlighting or marking important excerpts in your textbook so you can refer back to them. If your professor has PowerPoint slides, see if you can get them.
- Study. Set time apart from each day to review material and prepare for your next classes. Read your assigned text, organize your notes, make flashcards, quiz yourself and create study guides to prepare for exams.
- Turn in your assignments on time. In many instances, professors either won’t accept late work, or they will deduct a significant portion of your grade when you turn in an assignment after it is due. Start working on projects as soon as they are assigned.
- Utilize the college’s available services. Nebraska Methodist College’s Academic Resources include free tutoring, supplemental instruction and writing support, among other services.
As a student, your GPA is important. It’s something that graduate programs consider when admitting new candidates and employers look at when hiring new staff. So, making the Dean’s List each semester is a good goal for students to aim for in maintaining high GPAs and setting themselves for the career paths of their choosing.
The holidays probably now seem like just a distant memory for most, and for all you on campus students, your classes are just beginning. For returning students, it probably feels like ages since you left Nebraska Methodist College for winter break. For others who are just beginning your college studies, you might find yourself wondering how to succeed at college. While some of you might feel refreshed and ready to go, for others getting into or getting back to the routine of college and classes can be a real challenge. So here are a few tips to help you get back into the swing of college life:
- It’s all about establishing consistency. College is all about balancing your priorities—classes, studying, social life, and for some—family and perhaps even work. So it is just makes sense to set regular habits that can help you stay at the top of your game. Start first by establishing a routine for going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, and try to make your bedtime hour reasonable. Join a study group that meets regularly. Designate an evening as laundry night. Perhaps set up a time that you have coffee each week after class with a friend. Getting yourself into a regular schedule will help you settle in and focus in the classroom.
- Eat healthy. A well-balanced diet will help you stay energized and undistracted in class. And yes, that starts with a good breakfast. Of all the meals, breakfast, especially for college students, is the most important meal of the day. A good healthy breakfast will give you the energy and stamina you need to focus on your studies and go through your day. Avoiding breakfast will drain your energy quickly and may cause you to eat unhealthy foods. Avoid too much fast food or pop. Eating fast food will have you feeling lethargic, and drinking too many sugary, caffeinated beverages will leave you feeling jittery and distractible.
- Keep track of your assignments in a planner. Writing down what projects you are assigned and when they are due will help you stay organized so you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Avoid procrastination and embrace the new semester as an opportunity to get off to a strong start by working ahead on your assignments.
- Schedule exercise into your day. Exercising regularly will help you feel more energetic and less stressed out.
Block out an hour each day for a visit to NMC’s fitness center or for some other form of activity, like a walk or run on a nearby trail.
- Make time for friends. Whether you’re going to the movies or just hanging out in your apartment, spending time with your friends at NMC can be a great way to decompress after a long week in the classroom.
A college education is an important investment in your future. Paying for college, however, can be very intimidating. But before you say to yourself, “I can’t afford to go to a private college,” you should explore all of the opportunities that exist to help you pursue your education. At Nebraska Methodist College, students have a number of financial aid options.
Applying for scholarships should be one of your top priorities in paying for college. Scholarships, which are offered by numerous groups and organizations, are free investments in your education. You don’t have to pay them back, and there is no limit to how many you can apply for. Whether you are an incoming or current student, you should always keep your eyes peeled for new scholarship opportunities.
Grants are another type of free money to help you pay for college. Most grants are based on a student's need, which is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) results. This is why filling out and submitting your FAFSA is so important. Every student should fill out a FAFSA to ensure they aren’t missing out on assistance they could receive.
Federal work study is an opportunity to supplement your finances while you’re going to school. Students participating in federal work study typically work 10 hours a week in an on-campus position or college-related community program. The total hours a student can work is determined by the student’s need based on their FAFSA.
After applying for scholarships and grants, student loans are an opportunity for students to finance the remainder of their educational expenses. Student loans have to be repaid, and not all student loans are created equal. Students should first apply for federal student loans before considering private or alternative loans. Federal student loans offer better terms and conditions than private loans, which typically have higher interest rates and loan fees.
Nebraska Methodist College’s Business Office also offers a monthly payment plan, which allows students to pay off their balance over the course of the semester rather than up front. Nebraska Methodist College also accepts VA educational benefits. Registrar Melinda Stoner is the VA Certifying Official at the college.
Penny James, Director of Financial Aid at Nebraska Methodist College offers these tips to students seeking assistance in paying for college:
File your FAFSA each year to be considered for federal financial aid. Also, don’t ever pay a fee to file the FAFSA. It is a free application.
If you take out loans, don’t borrow more than what you need. Develop a budget and be willing to make sacrifices in the short term to minimize borrowing and long-term debt.
Read the instructions and fine print regarding your financial aid. Ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand.
Work closely with your academic advisor to develop a program plan. This helps keep you on track to graduate without unnecessary delays.
Beware of scholarship scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The Federal Trade Commission offers tips on spotting scams.
Other Helpful Links:
- Nebraska Methodist College Financial Aid
- Federal Student Aid
- EducationQuest Foundation
- Fast Web
Nursing graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees are finding jobs soon after they graduate, according to a recent survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
The survey was conducted in August 2013 among deans and directors from U.S. nursing schools offering entry-level baccalaureate and graduate programs. Here are some of the survey’s key findings:
- At the time of graduation, 59 percent of new Bachelor of Nursing Science (BSN) graduates had job offers. Four to six months after graduation, 89 percent of new BSN grads had secured a job in nursing.
- Graduates with a Master of Nursing Science (MSN) had even greater success finding employment. Data showed that 67 percent of MSN graduates had jobs at graduation, while 90 percent had jobs four to six months after graduation.
- Based on the responses, 43.7% of hospitals and other healthcare settings are requiring new hires to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (up 4.6 percentage points since 2012), while 78.6% of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates.
Compared to the national average, nurses are finding jobs much quicker than graduates in many other fields. Just 29.3 percent of the country’s new graduates across all disciplines had job offers at graduation, according to a similar study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
The AACN survey indicated new graduates in the South and Midwest were able to find nursing jobs faster than those in the Northeast and West. The percentage of BSN graduates with job offers at graduation were 68% in the South, 59% in the Midwest, 50% in the Northeast, and 47% in the West. At four to six months after graduation, that job offer rate rose to 93% in the South, 90% in the Midwest, and 82% in the Northeast and West.
Many registered nurses who have received their ADN are faced with the decision of going back to school to advance their education.
As other nurses may begin to pull back from their professional life after thirty seven years of practice, current RN to BSN student Peggy Dyer has remained fully engaged as an oncology nurse coordinator at Methodist Hospital. In fact, she has been described as reinvented.
Peggy was recently presented the Clinical Excellence award from the March of Dimes. This award recognizes a nurse whose entire career has been spent in direct patient care providing the highest level of care and compassion for five years or more. She also was honored as the Methodist Health System employee of the month in June 2013.
An interest in education has reignited a passion for nursing as she has come to the realization that there is much more that she wants to accomplish professionally.
We took a few minutes to talk to Peggy to get her thoughts on the subject.
It Was All in His Plan
I graduated from St. Francis School of Nursing in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1976 and have worked as a registered nurse ever since. My decision to get my BSN was a hard one to make. I had lots of support and I really believe God puts people in your life for a reason.
I was fortunate enough to attend the AgeWise Summit with [NMC faculty] Deborah Conley and Fran Henton in 2010. The conference was full of well educated professionals and it was then I told my supervisor, Vici Sortino, that I felt like I was the least educated person there. One of the leaders of AgeWise challenged me to further my education.
Being a graduate of the AgeWise program reinvented my passion for nursing, especially the end of life aspect. I learned so much in that program. I voiced interest to one of the nurse practitioners who was developing the palliative care program at the hospital. Her response was "You don't have your BSN."
Then the hospital announced that all core nurses had to have their BSN by 2018 or step down from that position. The following year I attended the AgeWise Summit again and was approached me about my education. I declined the challenge at that time, but God knew what He was doing.
My current supervisor encouraged me as well as the others I mentioned to pursue a BSN degree. She reminded me that I had a lot to offer and other opportunities could open up with more education. After several discussions with my husband we decided continuing my education was right for us.
It's All a Balance
Managing the coursework varies from class to class, but I try to dedicate certain days to homework. I have not missed out on any family functions, but will admit some have been shortened because Grandma has to do homework. I have always studied in late evenings or into the night.
I do not have to take NRS 480 because I am an AgeWise graduate. I will graduate with my BSN in August of 2014.