Karen Sanchez wins 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award

Karen Sanchez, Class of 1997, has been selected as this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipient by the Bellin College Alumni Council. Sanchez was nominated by fellow alumna Donna Radcliff who says “Karen is a compassionate and experienced Family Nurse Practitioner and nursing leader with a demonstrated history of making a difference in the lives of the patients and communities she serves.”

Sanchez works for Outreach Healthcare-N.E.W. Community Clinic in downtown Green Bay where she serves the homeless and uninsured in Green Bay and the surrounding communities in Brown County.

“We were well prepared to serve as professional RNs upon transitioning from Bellin into our professional careers and often reflect on the excellent education we received,” Radcliff said.

“Karen is an advocate for the poor and the vulnerable and has made significant improvements by implementing the patient-centered medical home model in the Outreach Healthcare Clinic for the patients and populations in her care,” Radcliff said. “She is also a great role model for her patients and colleagues as she is an avid marathon runner, and a tireless advocate for improvements in healthcare delivery, especially for those who are underserved and uninsured.”

Sanchez will be honored at this year’s Alumni Homecoming on Sept. 12, held at the Green Bay Botanical Garden in Green Bay. For more information, or to register, see the Alumni Events page.

How does Karen Sanchez exemplify the Mission and Values of Bellin College?

» Commitment to lifelong learning — After earning her BSN at Bellin, Karen went on to earn a graduate degree in Nursing, is board certified, and she participates in annual nursing conferences to ensure excellence in nursing care. She is a sought-after nurse expert, serving as a preceptor to emerging nurse leaders and sharing her insights with fellow clinicians and community leaders to improve patient care delivery and reduce the costs of health care.
» Leadership — Karen has served as a community leader and advocate for the patients and populations she serves in Green Bay and Brown County. She is a strong nursing leader who has made significant improvements in the patient-centered medical home model of care; reducing hospital and ER admissions
and improving the health and well-being of her patients. She is a frequent guest lecturer, fostering a learning community for emerging nurses and health care professionals committed to improving healthcare practices.
» Integrity — Karen works with patients and populations in some of the most challenging of circumstances. Her compassionate respect of each patient and their families who are often homeless, suffering from mental illness, addiction and numerous co-morbidities requires the very highest integrity, and she demonstrates this value consistently as she serves her patients in this practice setting.
» Community — Karen’s nursing expertise as a Community Health FNP serving the poor and the vulnerable demonstrates her commitment to her community. Her partnership with educational organizations, health care delivery systems and grassroots organizations has resulted in improvements in healthcare delivery for the Green Bay and Brown County communities.
» Caring — Karen empowers her patients by caring for them in a holistic manner. She applies the nursing process in her professional life and works collaboratively in a patient-centered way. Her patients and the community benefit from Karen’s deeply compassionate care with patients and populations who are often
overlooked or marginalized. I marvel at her tireless advocacy for her patients.
» Excellence — Karen has demonstrated her excellence in nursing by ensuring evidence-based practice and she is a tireless researcher and problem solver. She exhibits this value daily as she cares for patients, measuring the clinical outcomes to ensure prevention of disease, and manages existing disease in partnership with her patients, keeping up to date with needed interventions and improving the health and well-being of her community.

— Donna L. Radcliff

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Q&A with BSN traditional student Kylan Myers

Kylan Myers

Name, Program, Grad year: Kylan Myers, BSN Traditional, May 2020

What attracted you to Bellin College?

I grew up in a very small town, so naturally, I was attracted to Bellin College’s small class sizes. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend another small school, but once I attended an information session, I knew where my heart was set on going. Bellin has just about everything any prospective student could want, so after getting accepted, it was an obvious choice for me.

What has been the best part about being in school at Bellin College?

There are so many things that come to mind when being asked this question. If we were to look at it from an academic standpoint, I would say the best part of Bellin College is definitely the hands-on experience offered to us in the health science resource center (HSRC) in the lower level. While deciding on where I wanted to go to college, I toured many nursing schools and was less than impressed with what they had to offer. This is why attending a healthcare centered school is great. When looking at the best part of school from a social aspect, I would have to say the friends I have gained and the connections I have made with others are my favorite. Everyone at Bellin is so friendly, making it an even better environment or community to be a part of.

What made you pursue healthcare? 

As a little girl, I was deathly afraid of animals, but for some bizarre reason, I always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. I don’t know if I thought I would get over my fears before graduating from school, or if I was like any other child that chose the first career that came to mind whenever asked. Throughout middle and high school, our guidance counselors always had us take career path quizzes. Each time I took these, nursing was in my top three. Unlike many, I do not have a parent or grandmother or even a sibling that is a nurse. I didn’t know much about nursing until my junior year of high school. After attending an information session and working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), it was then I decided that nursing was the path for me. I had no revelation or moment that it occurred to me, I just knew that nursing was the right choice for me.

What are your future goals? What do you see yourself doing after graduation?

After graduation, I plan on moving back to my hometown in northern Wisconsin. Since I have not yet had any specialty clinical experience, I am not 100% sure what area I hope to be in. As long as I am working as a nurse, I am sure I will be happy. My hopes are to stay working as a nurse, but I would definitely consider going back to get my MSN as a Family Nurse Practitioner once I have gained enough experience as an RN.

Any advice for students who might be thinking about coming to school at Bellin College?

If you are thinking about coming to Bellin College even a little bit, I say go for it. My expectations as a senior in high school have changed drastically from my reality as a now senior in college. Bellin College may not be well known everywhere yet, but I can promise you that in the Green Bay area, it has an excellent reputation and there is a reason for it. No matter what degree you are coming to Bellin College for, have an open mind and be ready to learn more than you ever thought possible! This is a great school that I am so thankful to be attending.

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Siblings carry on Bellin College tradition

Students sit in the atrium.

Max and Nellie Soda

A long-standing tradition at Bellin College has been members from the same family attending the school. Whether it’s generational with students attending the same school as a parent or grandparent, or siblings attending together or right after each other, there are many instances of this throughout the years. This spring, Bellin College was home to several sets of siblings. These pairs of siblings have come forward to share their story. They all come from various backgrounds, but all have one thing in common — the desire to help people.

Nellie and Max Soda

Nellie and Max Soda are originally from Princeton, Wisconsin, in Green Lake County. Growing up on a farm with a family of six, their mother’s background as a nurse had an influence on her children.

Nellie Soda found the sonography field with a little help from older brother Max. It was a high school sports injury Max received that sparked an interest in that type of healthcare for Nellie.

Max was a sophomore in high school when he needed an ultrasound on his kidney after coming down on another player’s knee wrong at football practice. Seeing the technology during the ultrasound was intriguing to Nellie, who was a sixth-grader at the time.

“I always wanted to be in healthcare, but I didn’t know which one to do,” she said. “So I liked the technology of sonography because I didn’t really want to do nursing. I’d heard enough war stories from mom, so I didn’t want to do that part. I wanted to do something a little bit different that would still
be useful.”

Their mom being an OB nurse at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin was a factor in Max’s choice to join the 15-month nursing program. He came to the college in January and will be graduating in October 2020. Max began his healthcare pursuits at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in biology before following in his sister’s footsteps and coming to Bellin College.

“Based on the prior education that I had to build off of, the accelerated program seemed like the best route, because you can get in and get out, start making money and get on with life,” he said. “But also that it’s in-person, unlike other accelerated programs. I learn better in person versus an online program.”

While in different programs and different career paths, they still find time to get together as part of a family; church and Sam’s Club being favorite outings. Currently, three Soda siblings are in the Green Bay area. Another brother is studying at UW-Green Bay.

Future plans for the pair are still somewhat up in the air. Max thinks he’d enjoy working in an operating room or an emergency room or doing wound care and maybe eventually becoming a traveling nurse. Nellie is still waiting to find out what parts of sonography she enjoys most or even possibly obtaining more education in the future. Depending on the circumstances she’d like to move back home to the Princeton area.

Erin and Shannon McCauley

Sisters study on campus.

Erin McCauley, left, and Shannon McCaulley study in the atrium at Bellin College.

Sisters Erin and Shannon McCauley both graduated in May 2019, from the nursing program, however, they didn’t come in on the same path. They both found themselves at UW-La Crosse before coming into Bellin College. Erin came to the college as a junior transfer student and Shannon as a 15-month student.

Being in school together wasn’t new for the sisters since they overlapped about two years while at UWL, however, they haven’t lived together since they were in high school. While at Bellin College they only had maternity class together.

“It’s been really nice because we’ve had overlap with all of our classes, so studying together and learning from each other,” Erin said.

Shannon echoed those thoughts. “Since she’s in the JTO option she’s taken the classes before me, so if I have questions she’s really good at helping me or clarifying certain disease processes,” she said. “So she helps me a lot if I’m unsure of information, so that’s been nice.”

Both sisters knew they wanted to be in healthcare in some capacity, but were unsure in which direction they would go.

“Seeing our family and friends and their interactions with the nurses just cemented the fact that I should be a nurse,” Erin said.

Shannon has always been interested in healthcare and nursing. She says the catalyst was watching a friend’s family member going through heart failure and seeing how the nurses handled the family. Observing how nurses explained the information to them in terms they could understand really solidified her decision to go into nursing.

“I knew I wanted to be in healthcare,” Shannon said. “I didn’t know exactly in what way. I thought maybe radiation therapy originally, and then I shadowed and was like ‘nope, I want more hands-on care.’ And just from talking to family members and seeing how much of an impact nurses have, I just knew that was probably where I was headed.”

As for the future, Erin recently accepted a job on the Neuro Floor at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She eventually would like to continue her education with EMT courses and more.

Shannon recently accepted a job at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee on a Medical Surgical Telemetry Unit, but ultimately her goal is to “be someone that helps people in a time of need and provides that relief and comfort when they’re going through a terrible time, and who people respect and can go to if they’re having questions or

Brayden and Brock Maroszek

Brothers hold a Bellin College pennant

Brock, left, and Brayden Maroszek

Brayden and Brock Maroszek of Suamico were both in the BSN traditional program this spring. Being in the same track but on a two-year delay, Brayden graduated in May 2019 while Brock is class of 2021, has helped them continue the bond they forged while growing up.

“I really enjoy seeing him around and it is fun to see him improve. We also are able to help one another like a tutor would,” Brayden said.

Brayden always knew he wanted to go into the medical field.

“When I was in eighth grade I was diagnosed with epilepsy and in the following year had to have brain surgery,” he said. “As a result, I spent a lot of time at Froedtert Hospital and got to see what nurses did. I also wanted to give back after everything other people did for me.”

Brock had a little hesitation when he decided to join the nursing field because he is male, but he now says “it’s where I should be.” One way he looks to make a difference could be by working with male patients. On one of his first clinical experiences, he was able to bring an older male patient out of his shell a little bit and was able to connect with him about sports.

“I went in there and started talking to him and you could tell he didn’t want to engage with other people,” he said. “So basically I went out of my way and I saw on his board he had all football and sports stuff. So I asked him about the Badgers game and he just got a big smile on his face, like nobody had talked to him about that before. That was one of my really good moments in clinical.”

Adrenaline and excitement also attracted Brock to healthcare.

“I always wanted to do something kind of exciting and where I wouldn’t regret all the work I did,” Brock said. “Where I don’t sit in an office every day.”

Aside from the classroom, Brayden found hands-on training most useful.

“My favorite memories from Bellin College are spending time with my classmates and the disaster simulations,” Brayden said. “I really enjoyed being both the patient and the nurse. I feel those sims were great training for both people involved in the situation such as active shooters and how to operate in a hospital when there are large amounts of
patients arriving.”

Brayden graduated from Bellin College on May 18, 2019. His future goals include working at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and, down the line, getting his master’s degree and becoming a nurse practitioner.

Brock’s biggest dream is to be a nurse on a flight team or to one day work in Hawaii. Beyond that, becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse anesthetist are also on his radar.

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Bellin College students named to Spring 2019 Dean’s List

Bellin College would like to congratulate our students who have been named to the spring semester 2019 dean’s list. The dean’s list is composed of students who earned a grade-point average of 3.5 or better in Bellin College courses, are in good disciplinary standing, and carry at least 6 credits.

Highest Honors (3.90-4.0 GPA)

Rachel Abrahamson

Tiffany Alberg

Casey Andersen

Cassie Mae Anderson

Sarah Batten

Kayla  Bauer

Elizabeth Bildings

Alexandria Campshure

Samantha Cryderman

Jane Daelke

Kaisa Davison

Aurora Delebreau

Olivia  Diedrich

Valerie  Ehr

Nicole Erdmann

Tiegan Fager

Rebecca Fernlund

Ashley Fenn

Sarah Finnel

Jennie Fonseca Alvarado

Mikayla Foskett

Danielle Gardner

Jadyn  Gentz

Kennedy Getsfried

Morgan Graetz

Mary Grandahl

Laura Gransell

Cassidy Grieger

Kathleen Guilette

Melanie Haedt

Jennifer Hanes

Brooke Hanmann

Lauren Harvey

Jodi Hattendorf

Jamie Healy

Caitlyn Henry

Briana Jaeckels

Haley Jankowski

Joann Jindrick

Christine Kaburu

Taylor Korth

Charlotte Koshak

Macy Krenke

Kamryn Koss

Jenna Leitermann

Sydney Lemerond

Alexis Lemieux

Kacie Lenhart

Olivia Letter

Lily Liebmann

Michaela Machurick

Kathryn Makeever

Kayli Mallien

Luke Manderle

Brock Maroszek

Erin McCauley

Houa Moua

Haley Nackers

Miranda Natrop

Mikayla Neveau

Cassandra  Nyman

Celia  Osorno

Maria Pankow

Melissa Patnode

Michelle Paulson

Allison Prebeg

Claire Raethke

Natalie Reinhard

Victoria Routhieaux

Larissa Russell

Josh Salm

Lindsey Schueller

Olivia Schuh

Carly Schulz

Maximilian Soda

Nellie Soda

Robert  Sorenson

Kristen  Stencil

Brady Tanck

Shannon Thoma

Tammy Topper-Maki

Adrianna Tupper

Allie Van Pay

Caroline Wagner

Rachael Whitefield

Alexis Wilber

Ivy Williams

Danielle Winter

Samantha Yenter

Ashley Young

Samantha Zittlow

Holly Zorn

High Honors (3.75-3.89 GPA):

Sierra Bates

Anna Berghoefer

Abby Broeniman

Alexandra Bellile

Jacey Bal

Megan Boudreau

Martha Daley

Chelsea DeShambo

Kristen Douglass

Erica Ensrud

Daniel Flynn

Kevin Foote

Alexander Goyette

Kristin Griesbacher

Rebekah Hammond

Alyssa Jonet

Lauren Leick

Lydia Luebke

Kristan Molling

Emily Murphy

Kylan Myers

Jensen Navis

Ellen Noldin

Celine O’Toole

Morgan Rabideau

David Rasmussen

Samantha Renard

Megan Ross

Ashley Schukow

Chloe Springer

McKayla Steenbock

Jordan Thiry

Meghan Tilot

Miranda VanLannen

Anna Verbruggen

Amber Wagner

Taylor Weier

Ceilidh Westenberger

Samantha Zabel

Kalysta Zdanowski

Jenna Ziorgen

Honors (3.50-3.74 GPA)

Jordan Alarcon

Patience Alberts

Candice Anderson

Noah Arndt

Jessica Bohlman

Kelsey Brauer

Rebecca Claas

Elizabeth Collins

Amy Davids

Skylar Donath

McKenna Eisch

Brianna Evers

Hannah Flury

Hanah Gadke

Moriah Grahl

Carolyn Harz

Katherine Henning

Brooke Janquart

Katherine Knapp

Kristina Krier

Titus Lam

Maria Lamers

Mariah Loe

Elizabeth Madsen

Victoria Maloney

Alexis Marvin

Christina Maser

Katherine McLain

Nadine Miller

Emily Nelson

Miriah Nelson

Jacob Nichols

Danielle Niemi

Samantha Olson

Chloe Pallex

Paige Pichette

Steel Ricke

Chelsea Ronsman

Natalie Rose

Tabatha Ruska

McKenzie Scheld

Kenzie Schmidt

Brooke Seeholzer

Lindsey Semler

Emily Spindt

Ashley Sturzl

Brianna Taplin

Abigael Tesch

Tara Tursellino

Chloe Valdivia

Nicole Van Enkenvoort

Jessica Wagner

Kaitlyn Wagner

Gabriella Weier

Jordan Wellens

Taylor Wilcox

Sierra Wille

Chelsea Wollenberg

Melissa Zernicke

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Eric Chaconas named new DScPT program director

Dr. Eric Chaconas has been named the new Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy program director at Bellin College. The college recently expanded its offerings in collaboration with Evidence in Motion to include post-graduate physical therapy programs.

“It’s an absolute honor to join such a high-performing team,” Chaconas said. “The people that make up this program, Bellin College, Evidence in Motion and Bellin Health are the reason I pursued this position.  Everyone I have interacted with is intrinsically driven to provide a premier post-professional educational experience for physical therapists.” 

The DScPT degree program expands on the knowledge, skills, and abilities obtained from the fellowship certificate with an emphasis on research, educational leadership and advanced practice. Students may choose to complete only the fellowship component or may choose to continue to complete the DScPT degree. Successful completion of an orthopaedic manual physical therapy fellowship is required to complete the DScPT program.

“Our profession really needs a program like this to meet the growing demand for teaching and research faculty in the physical therapy profession,” Chaconas said. “We need more physical therapists trained at the Fellowship and Doctor of Science level to advance research and teach in our physical therapy programs throughout the United States.”

Chaconas practiced physical therapy while continuing his education to become a doctor of physical therapy. He has taught at many levels, most recently as an associate professor at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.  

“Bellin College is truly a center of excellence, partnered with one of the highest performing health systems in the United States in Bellin Health and then Evidence in Motion which is the premier educational company in the physical therapy profession,” he said. “This DScPT program is in the perfect position to bring together the absolute best from the clinical, educational and research aspects of our industry.”

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Distinguished Alumni Bake

Bellin College seeks nominations for Distinguished Alumni Award

GREEN BAY — Bellin College is seeking nominations for the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award. Nominees will have graduated from any Bellin College or Bellin Hospital program and will be considered based on their professional accomplishments, community service, contributions to the health care profession, and how they exemplify the mission and values of Bellin College. Nominations will be accepted until 4 p.m. July 31. All nominations will be reviewed by a committee and the award will be presented at the 2019 Alumni Homecoming event on Sept. 12 at the Green Bay Botanical Garden.

To nominate a Bellin College alumni, please complete the Bellin College Distinguished Alumni Nomination Form or print, complete and mail the printable nomination form to the Bellin College Development office, 3201 Eaton Road, Green Bay, WI 54311 to

Past winners of the award include Dr. Mark Bake in 2018, Donna Zelazoski in 2017, Sally Karioth in 2016, Lori Fayas in 2015, and Peggy Gauthier was the first recipient in 2014.

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MSN students deliver scholarly projects

Masters of Science in Nursing students presented their scholarly projects May 14, 2019.

Those who presented were a mix of graduating seniors and a few from the class of 2020.

Projects ranged from mandatory influenza vaccinations for employment to various projects on diabetes and pain management.

Faculty advisers work with the students over the course of about nine months. The faculty members who advised the projects this semester were Dr. Lori Kulju, Dr. Mary Rolloff, Dr. Connie Boerst and Dr. Vera Dauffenbach.

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Bellin College, MCW-Green Bay take part in disaster simulation

The Bellin College Atrium and Health Sciences Resource Center of Bellin College was transformed Thursday, April 18, 2019, into a simulated multi-casualty tornado event. The simulation aimed to give students at Bellin College and the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay a chance to practice skills learned in the classroom and at various clinical sites.

The event is the culmination of multiple departments working together for the past 4-5 months to give students the real-world experience in a controlled environment. Students in the nursing, radiologic sciences and sonography programs and M2 students with Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay took part in the event.

“This simulation allows students the opportunity to not prepare for the simulation like they have in the past and to have to come in and not know what role they will have, what kind of patients they will work with and what will need to be done,” said Kathie DeMuth, assistant professor of nursing for Bellin College.

Staff volunteers and students were staged in the Atrium area to recreate all aspects associated with a multi-casualty event. In total, there were 42 “patients” for students to contend with and prioritize, as they would if it were a real-life scenario. These simulated patients also received realistic-looking makeup, or moulage, to increase the legitimacy of his or her injuries.

“Disasters are increasing at local, national, and global levels, as is the need for all nurses and communities to be prepared,” said Kevin Stringer, HSRC technology specialist. “Today’s graduating nurses need strong skills in disaster nursing to manage a variety of disasters in a local to a global context. Nurses can bring unique skill sets to manage emergency situations, including proper assessment, priority recognition, communication, and collaboration skills. Competency in these skills allows nurses to make accurate, life-altering decisions in highly emergent and demanding situations. This realistic, hands-on activity approach allows them to experience a disaster before job placement.”

Students were joined by various healthcare professionals from the area along with the Bellevue Fire and Rescue Department and County Rescue Services. Eight doctors and several nurses were on campus to help guide students in their simulation.

Dr. Brad Burmeister

“The disaster drill is really an exciting event for all of the students,” said Dr. Brad Burmeister, clinical professor with Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Bellin Health doctor. “This is my second year involved as a faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin – Green Bay campus. While the opportunity to hone some clinical skills is certainly present for the disaster, the biggest asset and unique opportunity are to work with other students.

“Oftentimes interprofessional collaboration is difficult to emulate for a student — they often are working and learning sort of independently in the clinic, ER, or in the OR,” he said. “Putting them in charge of a disaster though forces them to work together and communicate. While our group did great with communication, we had a good conversation at the debriefing about how communication could be better in the future.”

Sonography and radiology students also assisted with the simulation drill. The different departments often don’t get a chance to work together, but got their chance during the event.

“Imaging students have worked with the nurses in different aspects before, but not in a disaster situation. We have these objectives for all students. Interprofessional communication is key,” said Christina Smith, radiologic sciences instructor.

The main objectives for participating students are: 

  • Appreciate the importance of interprofessional communication
  • Demonstrate effective use of knowledge, skills and abilities to safely provide patient care
  • Collaboratively and implement interventions based on assessments and priorities
  • Identify value of partnerships in provision of quality patient care

Staff usually conducts two simulation events per year — in spring and fall. They can range from a shooting incident, fire and anything in between.

See more photos

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BSN student represents college, state at NSNA convention in Salt Lake City

Bellin College BSN junior student Caroline Wagner joined three other nursing students to represent the Wisconsin Student Nurses’ Association at the National Student Nurses’ Association April 2-7 at the 67th Annual Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 3,000 other nursing students from the U.S. took part in the convention.

While she was at the convention, Caroline met with state presidents from across the country to share what individual states take part in with hopes of gaining new ideas to bring back to Wisconsin. In addition, she participated in a three-day NCLEX Review Course, attended focus sessions such as “Medical-Surgical Nursing Made Insanely Easy” and “Pharmacology Made Insanely Easy” to learn strategies to remember important nursing topics, attended a scholarship reception only for a select few who received The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association scholarships and also got certified through the American Red Cross-Disaster Certification in Sheltering and Disaster Health for nursing students.

Student nurses in attendance also heard from various speakers about nurses needing a seat at the innovation table, encouraging nurse innovators and entrepreneurs in the workforce to be a part of companies that are trying to create health systems or equipment without needed input from nurses.

Caroline also had official business to attend to while at the convention. She served as the Wisconsin state delegate, participating in business meetings only for delegates to vote on resolutions and by law amendments as well as voting for the new NSNA board.

Besides being a delegate for the NSNA during this convention, she is also the Vice President of BSNA, President of Student Senate and a student ambassador.

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corrina dart new photo

You’re coming to nursing school at Bellin College, now what?

Community outreach is one of the many opportunities available to students at Bellin College.

Congratulations! If you are reading this, then there’s a good chance you have chosen nursing as your intended profession. I am here to tell you that you are in store for a whole lot of smiles, sweat, tears, unforgettable moments and a profession that will continuously keep you on your toes. You will be there for people during their best and worst moments in life (I’ve only been in healthcare for a few years so that is saying a lot!). I am sure that you are feeling a bit nervous as you start on this new journey, but I want you to know that WE ALL HAVE BEEN THERE! Every single nurse, CNA, doctor, or anyone else who you may encounter in healthcare has started at the beginning — just like you. So whether you have years of previous medical experience under your belt or area a complete newbie, we all continue to learn new things every day. When I started nursing school, I remember having absolutely no clue about what to expect. My hope is these tips relieve some of those beginning jitters and help you feel a little less alone in this new world of nursing school.

Tip #1: Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Nursing school is about to take up so much of your time it isn’t even funny. It can be tough at first to establish a routine, but if there is one thing I can say to help you juggle all the madness it would be to map out every … little … thing. Your schedule will soon become your new bible and you must quickly learn how to keep track of exams, papers, clinical preparation worksheets and your sacred study time.  At the beginning of each semester, sit down and record every lecture, exam, assignment, clinical, and whatever else may be on your schedule or planner. It’s important also to plan your study time. Other students and myself have found that giving yourself small, frequent, two-to-three hour study sessions rather than using a whole day attempting to cram everything you learned in, is much more helpful when preparing for exams. I’d recommend using a bit of time after each lecture to go through your notes, even if you are just rereading what you’ve just written. Find those study habits that work best for you and stick to them. Give yourself breaks when you’ve deserved them and try your best not to completely deprive yourself of sleep (If you didn’t like coffee before — trust me — you will.)  As I know you’ve heard over and over again, nursing school takes up A LOT of one’s time. Although it can be tough to balance all that is required of you, keeping a detailed schedule helps you to stay on top of everything.

Tip #2: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Nursing school is your opportunity to soak in every ounce of learning that you can receive. When given the choice on a clinical site, try choosing somewhere you wouldn’t have expected yourself to be. Surprisingly enough, most nurses end up nowhere near the specialty they had originally planned on working. 

Once in your clinical setting, take every opportunity available to you. Ask questions, offer assistance, and become someone the staff looks to first for additional help when needed. There is always something to learn, do, or see as a student and now is your time to take advantage of these experiences.  With that being said, get out of your social comfort zone as well! Bellin College has student organizations such as Ambassador’s Club, Student Senate, Bellin Student Nurses Association (BSNA) and numerous others, all of which are extremely welcoming and are a great way to meet other students outside of class.

Tip #3: Take Advantage of Help

Accepting help from others is something I know everyone struggles with. Bellin College offers a huge array of helpful services and I 100% recommend that you take advantage of them! The Student Success Center offers tutoring sessions taught by students who have previously passed the course. In addition, Bellin College faculty are always more than willing to sit down with students to discuss content and exams or practice skills. Please, please, please take advantage of these resources as they will only strengthen your abilities as a nurse! The faculty especially likes to help in any way they can and creating professional relationships with them is always a benefit for your future. (I promise you, they are WAY less intimidating to talk to than you think!)

Additional Recommendations:

Corrina Dart

» Purchase a set of shoes that you will use for clinical and clinical alone. Currently, you are required to wear all white shoes. Most students wear typical Nike tennis shoes or something of the sort. Unless you plan to wear them for years, please do not spend a fortune on these. They will very quickly become dirty and you will be walking miles (yes I said miles) each day in them. If you are looking more long term, I do highly recommend Danskos. These shoes are a bit pricy but hold up very well. Each person has their own opinion on them though, so I would definitely try them out before buying.

» Get yourself a reliable stethoscope. I personally use the Littmann Classic III stethoscope and it works great. Any Littmann or MDF is typically reliable. This will be something you will use throughout your entire time in nursing school as well as after you graduate. A good stethoscope makes a huge difference.

» Your clipboard will become an essential part of your clinical rotations. Amazon has a huge variety of these. Type in “nursing clipboard” and you’ll know exactly what I mean. I recommend the Tribe RN Nursing Clipboard. It has normal vitals, lab values, ABGs, and medication calculations printed on the back; all of which are super helpful while you’re still beginning to learn these during busy clinical days.

» If your clinical instructor, professor, or classmates offers a daily report worksheet to you, TAKE IT. Accumulate and save as many of these spreadsheets as possible. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, these are printable sheets that are used every day as a nurse. It helps immensely when keeping track of vitals, assessment, meds, tests, therapies, or really anything else that may involve your patient throughout the shift. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to these, and you will quickly learn which layout works best for you. Having worksheets given to you from others who have been there before makes narrowing it down much easier.

» Lastly, the best thing I can tell you is to take care of yourself. Set aside time to do things that you enjoy and don’t let the stress of school take over your life. Make an effort to create friends in nursing school; they will be the people you can relate to most during your college experience. Keep up the motivation; I promise you there IS light at the end of the tunnel! You are headed into a respectful and rewarding career. Know that even on the hardest of days, you are your patient’s biggest advocate, supporter, and their last line of defense. You save lives. You comfort the sick. You cannot expect that to be easy.

Congratulations on picking the GREATEST profession and I wish you the best of luck in your career! 

Corrina Dart
BSN Traditional 2020

The views expressed in this blog entry are her own and are not an endorsement by Bellin College.

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