By Barbara R. Fallon
Prior to the pandemic, approximately two thousand students and their faculty took advantage of the academic portfolio at the University of the South, Florida campus – a full range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses of on-site, online and on-site learning. distance. So when COVID-19-related hurdles threatened campus life and learning, South was willing to adapt his teaching methods and not only survived, but thrived.
Importantly, administrators and faculty have recognized — before, during, and after the pandemic — that it takes more than books, simulation labs, and virtual programs to instill the “art and science” of nursing in students. Faculty with clinical excellence, didactic skills, and research insight are an essential ingredient in mentoring students and guiding them through their academic journey.
Susan Hamley, Ph.D., RN, is a model of the qualities of her Southern faculty colleagues. She is an assistant professor in the College of Nursing’s BSN program and began her professional career at a small community college as a homeless mother of two young children. Over the years, she earned a BSN (cum laude) from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master of Science in Health Law (magna cum laude) from Nova Southeastern University. After the tragic loss of one of her daughters, she returned to her clinical roots and expanded her educational experience with a doctorate in nursing from Barry University.
Hamley came to Southern University after her eldest daughter graduated from the School of Nursing, as her experience in the local healthcare environment has made her appreciate the respect the university has among health professionals in the region. She has been a faculty member for three years and the culture of inclusive and integrated learning is what keeps her there.
“Because of its mission and size, South offers the rigor of a larger university and the privacy and personal attention of a community-sized program with highly integrated engagement between students, different cohorts and faculty,” Hamley explained.
“I can attach a face to any student name I have engaged with and help my students recognize how their personal interests and strengths match a variety of career options that will meet their intellectual, professional and human,” she said. . “I always share my experiences as a working mother, a pediatric nurse, a school nurse caring for high-risk students, managing elderly care and providing on-the-ground care for homebound patients, to expose them to the variety of clinical specialties within our profession, regardless of their life experiences. Additionally, there are administrative and academic options to explore. In fact, nursing chose me…and not the other way around,” she said.
Theoretical and practical learning
And that commitment and rigor with faculty/students is what intrigues South’s 8-year-old tenured professor, Sharon Ramjohn, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, who loves the satisfaction of mentoring students but can’t imagine giving up. her passion for bedside nursing. As a Continuing Nurse Practitioner, she not only brings the academic credentials to her students, but also the technology and realism that continuing bedside nursing brings to the profession. Her philosophy is that by sharing her clinical and academic skills, she can connect theory to practice for her students.
“Most of our students are technically savvy, especially after surviving the rigors of virtual learning during the pandemic,” she explained, “so my core value-added advice is to never stop learning during your practical nursing experience after graduation.”
“My students love to hear my personal work stories, but they also need to learn not only how to care for patients, but also how to balance work/study and family life. Many are recent high school graduates, but our diverse student body includes parents/students in career transition and back to school,” she said.
With a range of undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees, Dr. Ramjohn’s doctoral dissertation focused on the value of mentoring novice students, practitioners and faculty and the resilience of female nurse educators. . Experienced in medicine-surgery, research, simulation and public health, rehabilitation and academic nursing, she instills not only her work ethic in her students, but obviously in her own children having raised a son and a daughter who entered the legal and teaching professions.
A career transition
Shayna Adaniel, a career transition student, studied with both professors in her Southern experience. Raised in a family focused on healthcare careers, she considered becoming a nurse, but changed and earned her initial bachelor’s degree in social work. She has enjoyed clients’ engagement with young and old recovering from and enduring eating or memory disorders and coping with health needs during the aging process. This experience, along with her advocacy for Alzheimer’s disease, homebound seniors, and COVID vaccinations for healthcare workers, prompted her to return to nursing school so she could increase her engagement in direct patient care. South offered her an accelerated opportunity in the initial prerequisite studies to accelerate her educational journey in nursing.
Excited after her first day in the clinic, she appreciates the mutual benefits of brightening the day for patients who had limited or no visiting privileges during the pandemic to observe and participate with the staff in achieving their own dreams and career goals. . While her clinics will provide shadow opportunities in public health, women’s health, psychiatry, and medical-surgical nursing, currently in her second term at South, she is still leaning toward specialty geriatric care. .
“I value the personal interaction between faculty members and students, both within my own cohort and with other students. In fact, my best friend is signed up here and six months ahead of me, so we share experiences, likes and dislikes, practical and personal tips to build morale and knowledge to succeed in our goals.
An extremely low attrition rate among faculty (mainly due to retirements) is proof that Southern culture works. Both Ramjohn and Hamley agree: “Having an impact on life at the bedside and in the classroom doesn’t feel like work.
Ramjohn has thrived on seeing her alumni succeed in passing counseling, working as charge nurses at local hospitals, and populating the nursing profession pipeline across clinical, academic, and administrative pathways. Hamley relates to his students’ uncertainties and enjoys helping them clear those doubts by sharing his own professional story and his satisfaction with his personal choices. And, Adaniel has found his niche as an advocate for Florida’s aging population, and; is looking forward to converting her professional experiences in the paramedic community into direct patient care, thanks to her training in the South.