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Student fast-tracks JTO nursing program to serve country

President and CEO Connie Boerst, left, and Sam Grow following his graduation ceremony at the college.

Shortly after arriving on the Bellin College campus in the summer of 2018, graduate Sam Grow learned he would be deployed with the Army Reserve for a year sooner than he had anticipated. That meant an already fast-track junior transfer bachelor of science in nursing degree became an even quicker-than-usual pace. Grow was deployed in late January on an undisclosed mission.

Bellin College leaders, including President and CEO Dr. Connie Boerst, worked with Grow to make sure he had all the necessary qualifications to complete his studies early and with the same standards expected of all students.

“We value our students and their education and we knew that if we had a deployment in the middle of his education and he had to come back, it wouldn’t be in his best interest,” Boerst said. “With a degree in hand, he’ll have more opportunity when he goes to be deployed. He’ll have a better skill set to serve our country.”

Grow is a First Lieutenant and medical operations officer in the Army Reserve medical service corps. While on deployment, he won’t be serving as a nurse but will be in a more administrative role. It was recently reported to Bellin College that he earned his Registered Nurse title after passing the NCLEX exams before leaving the country.

“When I found out I was deploying with the Army Reserve, Bellin College leaders almost immediately came up with a plan that would allow me to graduate a semester early and take my NCLEX before I left the country,” Grow said. “They worked with me to create a special schedule and made sure I was comfortable with how rapidly I was progressing through the program and offered extensive support throughout my entire journey.  I am eternally grateful for all the staff and faculty and Bellin College, and, thanks to them, I look forward to working in the nursing field upon my return from deployment.”

While on deployment, Grow said he would be doing medical mission planning and support for a surgical team.

Dr. Mary Rolloff was a newly minted Bellin College dean of nursing when faced with Grow’s predicament. She sat with Grow and decided to “fast-track an already fast-tracked program” after initially thinking it couldn’t be done.

“Sam (Grow) was so responsible in notifying us so early of this anticipated deployment that I started thinking, ‘Could we do something different, is there any way so that he could finish and leave with his degree in hand’,” Rolloff said. “He said he would do whatever he needed to do to make this happen and he has done that and more.”

For some of his tailored academic plan, Grow became a section of one and completed group projects and classwork solo, Rolloff said. Faculty, staff and leaders worked to assure all standards were met while working around Grow’s unique needs especially when one two-week training exercise last November, became two, two-week training exercises, she said.

“Not only did he succeed, but he excelled in the process,” Rolloff said. “The reality was it really did take a village for this to happen.”

It’s not the first time Bellin College has done such a task for a student. Staff members recall at least two recent examples when faculty and staff have assisted military students in order to get them through their education and back to his or her military obligations. 

 “After getting my first undergraduate degree from a large state university, I couldn’t believe that the staff would be so friendly and receptive,” Grow said. “I felt like every one of the staff and faculty truly cared about me and my goals, and wanted me to succeed. The faculty all have a wealth of knowledge and experience and were invaluable resources whenever I had questions about content or skills.”

Grow was honored at a special ceremony at the college in early January.

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Heidi Monroe

Assistant Professor Heidi Monroe co-authors NCLEX study

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Caroline Val and Lauren

BSNA students represent college at WSNA convention

Three female students pose at convention.

Lauren Harvey, from left, Valerie Ehr, and Caroline Wagner at the WSNA convention.

The 71st Annual Wisconsin Student Nurses’ Association (WSNA) Convention was held Feb. 7-9, 2020, in Wisconsin Dells. Bellin College had 12 BSNA members in attendance, including three of our students Caroline Wagner, Val Ehr, and Lauren Harvey, who also serve on the WSNA Board of Directors.

The conference began on Friday evening with dinner, a keynote speaker, and games/service opportunities. While still no Bellin winners with the WSNA Olympics, the group slayed Bingo and making rag chew toys for a local animal shelter.

Saturday opportunities included a vendor hall, opportunities to attend a variety of breakout sessions such as learning about various Nursing Specialties, NCLEX Success, and learning about recovery from opioid addiction. The students sold T-shirts during the convention. The day concluded with the “House of Delegates” meeting.  Bellin College had three delegates in attendance in addition to the three board members. Sunday began with additional break-out sessions followed by a closing brunch/ceremony during which awards, and election results were announced. The brunch was well-attended despite the deteriorating winter weather.  

Bellin Student Nurses Association (BSNA) members.

Caroline Wagner, who currently serves as the WSNA president, also was the conference organizer. Dr. Lori Kulju, BSNA co-adviser and MSN program director said she heard many comments about this year’s conference “being the best” in a long time.

“I have attended the conference for the past five years, and thanks to Caroline’s attention to detail and leadership, this conference was by far the best,” Kulju said. 

Both Val Ehr, who serves as the WSNA Nominations Director, and Lauren Harvey, who serves as the WSNA “STAT” editor,  were involved in planning the conference.

The remaining nine students were true ambassadors for the college throughout the entire weekend. Kulju was so proud to say they were Bellin students.  Bellin College also had three BSNA members run for the 2020-21 WSNA Board of Directors. Both Val Ehr and Lauren Harvey were re-elected to serve in their current positions for the 2020-21 year. 

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New Radiation Therapy Program

Bellin College to begin radiation therapy program

Beginning in fall 2020, Bellin College will begin offering a three-year Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy degree. The program, fully accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), aims to give graduates of the program the skills and confidence necessary to be a leader in the field.

“The radiation therapy program perfectly aligns with our current medical imaging programs,” said Dr. Mark Bake, Dean of Allied Health Sciences at Bellin College. “The unique three-year bachelor curriculum focuses on the importance of patient care and the continuous technological advancements in the profession. We are excited to be bringing this high-demand program to the Northeast Wisconsin area.”

Students enrolled in the program will be prepared through a combination of state-of-the-art classroom education, clinical experience and laboratory practice. Graduates will be eligible to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. The final year of the program includes a full-time clinical internship which will provide the real-life, hands-on experience needed to be successful as a radiation therapist.

“The launch of the Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy aligns with the mission and vision of Bellin College,” said President and CEO Connie Boerst. “We are experts at educating healthcare professionals and this unique offering is in high demand in healthcare today. Students will walk away with an outstanding education and will be leaders in the profession. We continue to expand partnerships at the local and state level and are excited to engage in this new endeavor.”

The program is unlike any offered in Northeastern Wisconsin. That uniqueness will give students another option when looking for a career. Employment of radiation therapists is expected to grow 9% from 2018-2028, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More information, or apply

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