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Skillfully Caring: Nursing

Spring 2012

Skillfully Caring: Nursing

Personalized instruction and state-of-the-art technology helped one non-traditional student succeed.

For some, returning to college at age 37 can be challenging and downright scary. For Carri Rosera, a graduate of Fox Valley Technical College’s Nursing-Associate Degree program, being a single mother with three kids even magnified the challenge.

“I soon realized I made the right choice when the Fox Valley Tech instructors took me under their wings,” states Rosera. “They helped me through so many things that were going on in my life. My feelings about Fox Valley Tech are strong because the place was so life-changing for me.”

Chemistry with Dr. Miriam Douglass was one of Rosera’s first classes. “It involved a lot of math—a subject in which I was never very strong at,” she says. “She stayed after class with me, giving me math problem after math problem, and I ended up getting an A in that class!”

Zoe Cujak, dean of the Health division, believes that helping students succeed through a mentorship-style approach is a vital part of her area and the college as a whole. “The professionals who recently came here from the national accreditation agency remarked that every student they interviewed talked about the nurturing and caring support they received from our faculty,” she notes.

Today, providing nurturing support has become part of Rosera’s daily work. “I’m a registered nurse at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, working on the in-patient medical floors,” she explains. “I take care of very ill patients who have cardiac problems and cancer. Many are facing end-of-life issues.”

Rosera said that she felt well prepared for her job from day one. “The classroom instruction was amazing, plus our clinical experiences offered a great deal of insight,” she notes. “And the Human Patient Simulation (HPS) lab ensures you get hands-on experience handling everything. The patient simulators are very real and can be programmed to present any medical condition. Even after graduation, we can go back to the HPS lab to tune up our skills to provide the best care possible on the job.”

“At the college, we work in collaboration with our area health care employer partners to assess their current and future needs,” Cujak says. “We have an excellent placement rate. Ninety-eight percent of our recent associate degree graduates have found career positions. The graduate placement rate for our medical assistants is about ninety percent.”

The role of the health care worker is also changing and expanding, according to Cujak. “At Fox Valley Technical College we’re preparing our graduates with skills they will need to succeed in a professional environment that is leaner—a place where people will simply have to perform more tasks.”

Rosera continues to make learning new skills a regular part of her professional life. “With nursing you are learning every day,” she states. “I recently passed the ONS Chemotherapy and Biotherapy course and am now able to administer chemotherapy. I would also like to take the Advanced Cardiac Life Support classes, in addition to earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

Rosera credits FVTC for her continued success. “When I think of Fox Valley Tech and all the people who helped me, I get tongue-tied,” she says. “Going back to school also helped me instill the importance of education in my children.”

The FVTC Health division offers a wide range of programs. In nursing, graduates include registered nurses with associate degrees as well as licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and medical assistants. In addition, the division offers dental programs for both dental assistants and hygienists, and other specialized programs like Occupational Therapy Assistant, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Medical Coding Specialist, Health Information Technology, and several certificate offerings.


Human Patient Simulation Technology Brings Training to Life at FVTC

Robotic simulators are used as best practice tools for all students in Fox Valley Technical College’s Health division and for those in the Emergency Medical Services programs, in addition to medical professionals throughout the region. “These simulators are very lifelike, high-tech robots,” notes Bob Sternhagen, director of the Human Patient Simulation (HPS) Lab at FVTC. “I work with instructors and then program the simulators to present the symptoms of whatever disease or disorder the students are studying.”

For students, work in the HPS Lab is like seeing patients. They make treatment decisions and see the results of their efforts. “We have one simulator that actually gives birth,” notes Sternhagen. “When I show someone a video, they assume they’re looking at a real human patient. Students are gaining the most effective learning experience possible before hitting the workforce.”

Research has shown that simulation labs play a critical role in health care education today. “FVTC associate degree and certificate paramedic students can now earn half of the 800 hours of clinical experience they need on simulators,” states Sternhagen.

Sternhagen, who has been teaching at FVTC for 37 years, was part of the team that brought simulation robots to campus a dozen years ago. “The manufacturer, Medical Education Technologies, Inc., or METI, now directs other schools to us for best practices,” he says.

Area hospitals and other medical providers use HPS technology to keep the skills of their employees up to date. FVTC’s virtual hospital setting and outreach capabilities with HPS technology exemplify the college’s unique position in training the next generation of caregivers.

View video of Human Patient Simulators >>

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