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Nursing Achievement Coach Helps Students Excel

Posted by Marc Costanzo on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 3:39 PM

We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to improve student outcomes. Nebraska Methodist College prides itself on the infrastructure we’ve put in place to enhance achievement. From the brand new Student Engagement Center, which has quickly proven popular among the campus community, to the various counseling services we offer, we’ll do whatever we can to help students attain success.Nursing-Student-Patch.jpg

Recently, we took another step that will have a hugely positive impact on our college. NMC now has a certified Nursing Achievement Coach on staff, someone whose job is dedicated to helping nursing students with whatever issues they may encounter in the process of attaining their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

I recently had the chance to sit down with that Nursing Achievement Coach, Kim Hall. A part of Nebraska Methodist College for more than seven years, Kim has been helping students succeed that entire time. Now, with the title of Nursing Achievement Coach in place, it seemed like a great time to find out exactly what it means to help the nurses of tomorrow succeed today.

First Year Fears

For plenty of students straight out of high school, the transition to college is jarring. Many of our undergrads were successful in high school but find that the rigors of higher education, especially within a degree geared toward nursing, are steeper than they’ve encountered in the past. That’s where Kim comes in.

“I see a lot of 101 nursing students,” said Kim. “(They ask) ’How do I do patho, pharm and 101 altogether?’”

(That’s pathophysiology, pharmacology, and introduction to community-based nursing)

“That’s a big load. Just making a calendar sometimes is such a foreign concept to freshman nursing students because they didn’t have to study in high school. They don’t know those things because nobody’s really sat down and told them.”

Kim therefore helps them organize their lives in such a way as to promote successful study habits. The other huge aspect of Kim’s work is test preparation. Kim is what’s called an ATI (Assessment Technologies Institute) testing specialist, and she explained just what that means.

“ATI is a computerized testing that our nursing students, from the first semester that they’re in the nursing program to the time they graduate, they take proctored computerized testing to get them ready so that when they do NCLEX they’re ready to rock and roll.”

(The NCLEX is the certification exam that all nurses must pass in order to practice)

“Our goal as ATI is harder than NCLEX, at least that’s what our students tell us and that’s what we want it to be. But a lot of students struggle with that…It takes a lot of practice to figure out what are they (the test questions) really asking me…nurses do 80 things at one time and to pick that one priority is really hard for some students. So it takes a lot of practice.”

“I go over question by question with any student that wants to go over it and most of the time I see those students that didn’t pass. But a lot of times students were 'A' students wanting to come in and look at their exam because they could be better. And that’s awesome.”

Becoming an Achievement Coach

Kim had been doing this sort of thing at Nebraska Methodist College for awhile, but when it came time to back that assistance with a certification, she says she gained even more knowledge while going through the necessary classes, learning techniques that will allow her to help students even when they may not realize they need the assistance.

“How are you going to ask that student you really want to know something that’s probably none of your business but you need to know it? How am I going to get them to talk, how am I going steer them in the right direction? It was anybody-focused but then I took it and made it more student (focused).”

“I learned how to be kinda intrusive with my coaching,” said Kim. “I shove them in to a place where they need to go but they just don’t know they’re ready to go. It was an awesome course.”

Coaching Compassion

Throughout all of this, Kim never loses sight of the fact that nursing is and will continue to be all about compassion. She lives this herself, and she strives to make sure students understand how important that is, putting me in the role of a patient to provide an example of what she’s talking about.

“As nurses, we need to be able to sit down and talk to Marc,” said Kim. “I need to know what makes Marc tick. If it’s even for five minutes. I think some of us have lost that, because we are so busy, we are so overwhelmed with all the nursey things we need to do.”

“I wanted to be more mindful, more aware of my clients, my patients, people I talk to. How do I want to give back to the profession that has given me so much? And it’s to teach our students to be real with their clients.”

Before I close, I need to mention that, literally minutes before I spoke with Kim for this blog post, we received a notification that the college had been mentioned on Facebook. I actually was late to our meeting because I wanted to see what it was about.

While I won’t go into the details, one of Kim’s students was having a rough time due to some tragic personal circumstances, and Kim made a simple gesture that helped to get that person through that instance. This individual wrote a post explaining the situation. What made the post even more heart-warming was the number of people who chimed in with their own words of support and accounts of how impactful their own experiences with Kim had been.

It showed me that, long before Kim’s role as a Nursing Achievement Coach was formalized, she truly had been making a difference in so many lives. I’d like to thank her for taking the time to speak with me. It’s clear that nursing students at Nebraska Methodist College are in the right hands with Kim Hall in their corner.

Are you interested in a nursing career of your own? Download our degree guide to learn more about our Bachelor of Science in Nursing option.

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Topics: nurse education, faculty spotlight, nursing