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Freshman Spotlight: Abigail Weber

Abigail Weber |  Pulaski | Radiologic Sciences

Congratulations on acceptance to Bellin College. What made you choose this field of study?

I wanted something interesting that also challenges me at the same time. I’ve always found radiology extremely interesting.

What attracted you to Bellin College?

I like the way the college is set up. It’s a private school with not many students, which makes for a lot of one-on-one time.

What are you most excited about coming to Bellin College?

Being in a different environment and being able to go to school with some new people.

What are your hobbies when not studying for class?

I like to play tennis, hang out with friends, and be outside.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Invisibility

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

Yes, three dogs and a cat

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Freshman Spotlight: Samantha Haley

Samantha Raelynn Haley | Clear Lake | Sonography

Congratulations on acceptance to Bellin College. What made you choose this field of study?

I chose this field of study because I have always wanted to work within the medical field. I have always had a passion to help people and I found Ultrasound to be extremely interesting and something that I could surely see myself doing. Ultrasound has become a passion of mine and I am extremely excited to be pursing it. I am a people person all around and having the capability to have direct contact with patients while helping them is something that is extremely important to me.

What attracted you to Bellin College?

What attracted me to Bellin College was a multitude of things. But I believe that the biggest thing for me was the size of the school. I come from a small town of about 1,000 people, and my graduating class was less than 50 kids. Bellin gives that small-school atmosphere. I love the fact that you will know just about everyone you are going to school with. You will never just feel like another kid in the lecture. Bellin College gives you that family feel, something that I was looking for, and found while visiting Bellin College.

What are you most excited about coming to Bellin College?

I am so excited to meet new people! I am also very excited to be able to learn all about Sonography in such an amazing program!

What are your hobbies when not studying for class?

When I am not studying, I love to hang with friends. It could be shopping, swimming, or just a movie night. I love to be around others so when I’m not doing school work it usually involves me hanging around other people!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I would have the power to read minds. I think it would be so interesting to be able to know what others are thinking!

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

I have a little dog named Rosie! She is about 4 years old and is 9 pounds of crazy. Rosie is a Teddy Bear which is a mix between a Shih Tzu and a Bichon! This little dog is truly a girl’s best friend.

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Freshman Spotlight: Ann Krueger

 Ann Krueger | Oshkosh | Nursing

Congratulations on acceptance to Bellin College. What made you choose this field of study?

I have been in healthcare my entire life in some aspect and have always wanted to continue on with nursing.

What attracted you to Bellin College?

The small atmosphere and also knowing their reputation in the community.

What are you most excited about coming to Bellin College?

Being a student again and meeting new people with the same goals.

What are your hobbies when not studying for class?

Kayaking, hiking, and camping with my family and dogs.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

My superpower would be flying.

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

I have two dogs, a German Shorthair Pointer and a Golden Husky, a bunny, a bearded dragon and four chickens!

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Freshman Spotlight: Taylor School

Taylor School  | Green Bay | Radiologic Sciences

Congratulations on acceptance to Bellin College. What made you choose this field of study?

I chose to study in Radiology because I wanted to find a field in the healthcare profession where I could help people but in an area that truly interested me. I then landed upon Radiology because of my fascination with the inside of the Human Body.

What attracted you to Bellin College?

I was attracted to Bellin College because of its small class sizes as well as the quaintness of the school itself. It’s really close to home for me so I can still be with my family and friends, and it offered the exact educational experience that I was looking for.

What are you most excited about coming to Bellin College?

I am excited to finally start this next chapter of my life. I can’t wait to meet new people and learn alongside peers who share the same interest and passion for helping people as much as I do.

What are your hobbies when not studying for class?

My hobbies include music and volunteerism. In high school, I played in the marching band and the Wind Ensemble all four years, as well as spent many hours volunteering out in my community and at my church.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

If I could have any superpower I would wish for the ability to fly.

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

I have one dog named Bella. She is a Yorkie-Poodle mix.

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Phenomenology looks at the philosophical side of caring

Bellin College, along with the Bellin Health Foundation, Bellin Health, and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, hosted the sole Phenomenology and Healthcare International Workshop in the United States. Phenomenology is, according to Oxford Dictionary is “an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.”

The workshop is based on a project on how to use phenomenology in qualitative research in healthcare by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities in England. The project leader, Dr. Dan Zahavi, is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen where he directs the Center for Subjectivity Research and is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford where he is working on this study. He has authored and edited 30 books and over 200 articles and book chapters and is a world-renowned expert in phenomenology. He was not in attendance at the workshop in Green Bay.

Dr. Casey Rentmeester, Director of General Education and Associate Professor of Philosophy for Bellin College and has authored a book on the phenomenology of the environment and 18 articles and book chapters. His most recent work focuses on the phenomenology of healthcare. He was integral in securing Green Bay as a location for one of the workshops as he has known one of the researchers, Dr. Anthony Fernandez, since graduate school. The event was held in the Titletown Ditrict at Ariens Hill and Titletown Tech near Lambeau Field in Ashwaubenon.

“I think the workshops went as well as it possibly could have,” he said. “The fact that we had over 80 participants, spanning from providers to professors to students and even patients, come to a workshop on phenomenology, a term that many of them likely did not know before attending, is simply, well, phenomenal. I sit on the Best Patient Experience Committee at the Bellin Health System, and everyone was raving about how excellent it went at our meeting the next day.”

The presenters of the workshop were Dr. Rentmeester, Dr. Fernandez and Dr. Steven Burgess.

Dr. Fernandez is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Kent State University and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford where he is aiding Dr. Dan Zahavi in his research on phenomenology.

Dr. Burgess is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Benedictine University. He has several peer-reviewed publications and has presented his research internationally. He regularly teaches courses in phenomenology.

The event began with a presentation by Dr. Rentmeester, Dr. Fernandez and Dr. Burgess before groups were split off to work in small groups for more targeted discussion sessions at Titletown Tech.

“In the breakout session I facilitated, the faculty were initially carrying the conversation, as might be expected, but the students ended up having some very valuable contributions,” Dr. Burgess said. “On the whole, I thought the workshop attendees offered some truly insightful ideas about the way phenomenology can be applied to medicine.”

Dr. Fernandez was impressed by the workshop attendees, most of which were healthcare professionals from all areas of the industry, or community members involved in advising on patient needs and ideas.

“So many people were willing to share candid stories of their experiences as both health care professionals and as patients,” he said. “Their stories really brought the philosophical concepts to life and demonstrated how phenomenology can help us reflect upon aspects of our experience of illness and disability that we’d normally pass over.”

“Most people do not associate the traditional foci of philosophy with healthcare, aside from some questions of ethics; this workshop did not focus on the standard biomedical ethical questions and instead made use of a field-phenomenology that originated in rather abstract thinking,” Burgess said. “The considerations we discussed: body as object vs. body as lived; the ‘space’ of the hospital room; the unwritten norms guiding healthcare practice; etc., were very concrete and are certainly not ‘side issues,’ but instead essential to providing quality healthcare.”

Phenomenology and philosophy in general isn’t without its challenges and healthcare is no exception.

“A major obstacle to philosophical—and, specifically, phenomenological—applications in healthcare is the inaccessibility of philosophical texts,” Dr. Fernandez said. “The workshop breaks new ground in two ways. First, is distils some of the most useful concepts from phenomenology and makes them accessible to people without a philosophical background. Second, the workshop guides attendees through the process of reflecting on their own experiences in light of these philosophical concepts, providing attendees an opportunity to not only better understand their own experience and the experience of their patients, but also to get a clear grasp of the philosophical concepts by putting them into practice.”

“I think one of the biggest things we all showed genuine interest in was how to understand the patient’s perspective in order to provide patient-centered care,” Dr. Rentmeester said. “In philosophy, phenomenologists have been working on understanding the perspectives of others for over a century now, and it is just fantastic that this work is now bleeding into the healthcare setting, since it is so relevant to providing empathetic care to patients.”

After the breakout sessions at Titletown Tech, the groups reconvened for a wrap-up discussion on what was learned and discovered during those breakouts.

“I really enjoyed our reconvening session where we discussed phenomenologically inspired questions and I think many of those well-positioned at Bellin Health and Bellin College could see the potential for some of these in how routine healthcare can be improved,” Dr. Burgess said. “Some simple questions like ‘what do you fear most with this procedure/plan of treatment?’ or ‘what do you hope to get out of your experience?’ can really impact patient experience and more importantly quality of care. Some promising ideas that were floated were to include such questions in Vitals Procedure with every patient; to offer training programs for nurses and doctors to become more aware of their patients as whole persons; to screen prospective employees during interviews for aptitude with phenomenological care.”

By all accounts, the workshop was a success to those involved.

“I think that the workshop showed that dialogue between healthcare professionals and academic philosophers is incredibly productive and enlightening for everyone involved,” Dr. Fernandez said. “Talking through concrete examples with healthcare professionals not only brings philosophical concepts to life. These conversations often challenge philosophical assumptions about the nature of embodiment and illness, pushing philosophers to rethink their own assumptions.”

“I think there is a tremendous amount of room for growth in this field, and this workshop represents just the beginning,” Dr. Burgess said.

One question remains, where does Bellin College go from here with phenomenology?

“For Bellin College, I think it would be great if a full course could be developed on phenomenology of medicine and illness,” Dr. Fernandez said. “While a one-off workshop is a great introduction to the value of phenomenology for healthcare, a full semester of this kind of content and discussions can go a long way toward influencing long-term healthcare practice.”

Dr. Rentmeester said the team will be looking to hold a follow-up to this workshop, possibly in 2021.

“The fact that Bellin College and Bellin Health is working closely with top-notch researchers at the University of Oxford really speaks to our dedication to our vision as a college, which is to be the best health sciences college in the state of Wisconsin, and Bellin Health’s dedication to providing the best possible experience for patients,” Dr. Rentmeester said.

Other locations of workshops were University of Oxford in Oxford, United Kingdom; University of Iceland in Reykjavik, Iceland; Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark; and University of Manitoba in Manitoba, Canada.

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Bellin College Golf Classic canceled due to pandemic

Bellin College 19th Annual Golf Classic logoThe 20th annual Bellin College Golf Classic set for June 22, 2020, at Oneida Golf & Country Club was another side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The golf committee made the difficult decision to cancel the event because of the current safer at home order and not being able to ensure a top-notch golf outing for participants.

“While we are disappointed that we will not be able to hold the 20th annual Bellin College Golf Classic, it is the right choice to make,” said Thomas Shefchik, Vice President of Advancement for the college. “As a college preparing future healthcare professionals we need to set the example and ensure we are doing our part to keep our event attendees and in turn our community safe.”

The annual event is a main fundraiser for the college. Each year, a different area of need is identified as a need for funding. This year the event was set to raise money towards the purchase of an array of educational models to be used by all Bellin College students in anatomy and physiology courses.

“Many of the attendees have participated in this event year after year and they understand the important role the funds raised have on the quality of the education we provide at Bellin College,” Shefchik said. “Even though the event is canceled for 2020, many of the attendees have decided to make a gift of their event fees and sponsorships because of their dedication to our students.  We are extremely thankful for their support.”

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HSRC donates PPE, weathers new normal

One of the areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is the Health Sciences Resource Center at the college. Located in the lower level of the building, the HSRC is the resource all students utilize to practice skills they will need when they enter the work force.

Shortly after the need for Personal Protectice Equipment, or PPE as we’ve all learned, arose, the HSRC staff and Bellin College went through supplies and were able to donate to Bellin Health. Staff gathered supplies amounting to 640 masks, 172 isolation gowns and 15 surgical gowns to give to the health system to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Since the HSRC is one of the most hands-on areas of the college, it has been paramount to have a plan in place once students are able to return to campus. This summer, only the year-round Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography students will be allowed to practice skills.

“We are looking forward to the students return, it just may be a little different than what we have done in the past,” said Bonnie Luebke, Health Science Resource Center Director and Simulation Coordinator.

While students and staff have largely been off campus, the HSRC staff cleaned and disinfected all areas and supplies that are used in simulation or practice labs.

Along with planning and prepping for the return of students, they hosted and taught a skills refresher course for Bellin Clinic staff, LPNs and medical assistants.

“We had 40 staff members go through multiple stations over 2 days,” Luebke said. “This gave the clinic staff time to practice skills that they don’t do at the clinic in order to prepare them for assisting at the hospital if needed especially if a surge occurs.”

HSRC Coordinators Bruce Chinen and Sarah Johnson have assisted faculty with nursing classes as well. They have each taken on a group of students to conduct online simulations with to replace vital clinical time using the i-Human simulation program.

When students are back on campus, the HSRC staff has planned and prepared for cleaning and disinfecting and social distancing measures

“We have determined some limitations on number of students allowed in the learning spaces in the HSRC, adding additional rooms or additional lab sections,” Luebke said. “Students will need to follow the rules set forth by Student Services department.” 

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Bellin College pivots to drive-in graduation

One of the bright spots during the pandemic for the college has been able to provide the 134 graduating seniors with a creative send-off.

After graduation had to be postponed in April, staff pondered how to give seniors that proper ending that all students strive to have. With largely every graduation canceled across the country it wouldn’t be surprising if Bellin College needed to do the same.

With some restrictions lifted for drive-in theaters, Bellin College Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Public Relations Matt Rentmeester along with other colleagues started wondering if a drive-in graduation could be pulled off.

“We wanted to make something special for our students, and we brainstormed a little bit, myself and a few of my colleagues, and we came up with a drive-in movie theater option, and it’s been well-received by a lot of our 134 graduates,” Rentmeester said.

With a little over a week to plan the event, preparations were made the week leading up to the May 16, 2020, ceremony at Field of Scenes Drive-in in Freedom, with a little help from vendors and staff.

Students and family descended to the drive-in with decked-out vehicles in their graduation caps and gowns ready to party like we’re living in a pandemic. The ceremony was broadcast over the radio to those in their vehicles.

BSN graduate Tori Hipke was happy to have an actual ceremony.

“Like every graduate, you’re always looking to cross the stage and receive your diploma with family and friends, but this is really unique what Bellin College has done for us,” she said.

President and CEO of the college, Dr. Connie Boerst, spoke as well as three of the four student class speakers. A virtual video ceremony with messages from the featured speaker Katherine Reinke, President and CEO of Bellin Health Chris Woleske, and Bellin College chairman Mike Van Asten, along with all four student speakers is being produced and will be distributed to graduates and their families.

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COVID-19 impacted Bellin College students and alums

The impact of COVID-19 was felt throughout Bellin College and also our alums.

Sierra Bates, 2020

Recent graduate Sierra Bates was working in the Intensive Care Unit at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital during the last several months. She offers a little bit of what it is like working during the COVID-19 situation.

“I am trying to work extra hours as I am using my work experience for clinical,” Bates said. “I am also required to pick up extra on call shifts for our COVID-19 ICU. We wear hair covers, face shields, and surgical masks 24/7 on the floor. We wear our N95s for all vented patients, patients with trachs, CPAP, BIPAP, and any aerosolizing procedures. We also get temperature checked at the door when we come in and interviewed about symptoms. I have been given a mask to wear in and out of work in addition to my PPE on the floor.”  

“Studying isn’t great as I am very distracted at home,” Bates said. “I miss studying at school!” 

Many students are just looking forward to being back on campus and later lending a hand to those already on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“It’s definitely been tough being away from my friends and Bellin College family,” said Lauren Harvey, 2021 BSN student. “Learning online just isn’t the same as being on campus.  However, you simply have to adjust and make the best of a tough situation. With the recorded lectures up on my TV, it’s just like being in class minus the professor plus a couch. I hope and can’t wait to be back in lecture for my senior year this fall. That puts me one step closer to graduation and one step closer to joining the profession that’s so bravely on the frontlines of this battle we’re facing.”        

Capt. Jessica Feda, left, and John Wegh on deployment.

Our nursing program isn’t the only one affected. The doctor of science in physical therapy program and physical therapy fellowship has also seen changes.

Many of our fellows-in-training have been laid off or furloughed, see patients via telehealth, or are providing services beyond PT within their health systems,” said Mark Shepherd, Orthopaedic and Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship Program Director. “The outpatient physical therapy world has been really effected. The upside, though, is our fellowship program is hybrid — meaning all of our didactic content was already offered via online learning.  We excel in this offering as we have been doing this for over 10 years now with fellowship training so we haven’t skipped a beat in any of our didactic course offerings.”

Physical therapy fellowship student, Capt. Jessica Feda, in the National Health Service Corps and was deployed to the frontlines of care. She was assisting with screening and treatment of patients with COVID-19. These professionals are learning the best practices in the rehabilitation of the patients who may have ICU-acquired weakness, frailty and pulmonary function that can impact outcomes.

Kelsey Tavs, 2018

Bellin College alumna Kelsey Tavs, BSN class of 2018, is an RN at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton working to care for COVID-19 patients.

“Everything you see hyped up on social media — the personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing, visitor restrictions, fear of infecting your own family members, and nurses uniting together — has a different kind of meaning when you are the one in the room providing care for those in the fight against this virus,” Tavs said.

“COVID-19 has even more so ignited my passion and pride for the nursing profession,” Tavs said. “The distinct characteristics of a nurse have been highlighted tremendously these past few weeks — intelligence, a caring and compassionate heart, adaptability, resilience and even our entertaining sense of humor. When some are told to stay in their home, nurses are the ones running full force toward the action.”

For students who are also spouses and parents, it has also been a unique experience.

Ashley Wallner’s daughters helped decorate their front door in support of healthcare and frontline workers.

Ashley Wallner, BSN 2020, has had to juggle being a teacher to her fourth- and first-graders, studying online as a nursing student and working at the hospital, which she was called off from which gave her more time to spend with her children.

“Transforming to an exclusively online format has been an adjustment,” Wallner said. “It is hard to wake up and feel motivated to sit down and listen to lectures via a computer screen, study for exams, or be able to concentrate with children also home.”

“Many of us have looked forward to the moment of walking across the stage, being handed our diplomas, and celebrating that moment with our families,” she said. “For me, it was something that I needed as it would be a memory to tie everything together for my children. They see every day how hard I work and study, but it was the memory of celebrating with them that is the hardest part to get past.”

Lindsey Semler, BSN class of 2020, worked as a CNA at Bellin Hospital during her last semester at Bellin College.

“It is easy to say that this is not how I envisioned my last semester of nursing school,” she said. “If this situation has taught me anything, it is the importance of being flexible and adaptable as a nurse. With classes being switched to online and the college closing, my friends and I have been able to have study sessions and work on group projects through virtual video chats. I, also, work as a CNA at Bellin Hospital and have worked on the COVID unit several times. Again, this has put me outside of my normal routine, but it has strengthened my passion to be a nurse. This is what I have been preparing for in all my education. There’s no denying these will be unforgotten times, but the lessons and growth occurring from it is what binds us all.”

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Educating future healthcare workers while managing a pandemic

Faculty and staff were forced into a new way of working in March when the safer-at-home order was enacted by Gov. Tony Evers. With Bellin College being deemed an essential business, employees were able to access the building to facilitate working from home and conducting online courses.

All spring events at the college were canceled due to COVID-19, including all outside recruiting and events, staff development day, Campus Preview Day and all Hands On Healthcare events on campus and mobile events.

Faculty who were used to teaching classes face-to-face had to transition to holding classes virtually and also juggling their own family’s needs.

The nursing instructors had some unique challenges when scheduling virtual classes.

“When the decision was made for classes to be put online, many students, since they are nursing students, scheduled themselves to work to help with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Heidi Monroe, assistant professor of nursing. “This made it difficult to schedule “live” online classes. To handle this situation, I had emailed all the students in my courses two dates that I expected them to attend a ‘live’ class. The dates and times were those when we would have had class.” 

Often, just the challenge of moving instruction online was a challenge.

“The biggest impacts of the COVID-19 has been adapting the course work to an online format, staying connected with the students, finding ways to supplement clinical content and trying to juggle work, helping my kids with their virtual learning, and family life,” said Andra Sartorelli, radiologic sciences instructor and clinical coordinator. “My new office is either on the kitchen table or in the basement area as my husband is also working from home and has a lot of conferences calls,” Sartorelli said. “I guess in the grand scheme of things, it is a small price to pay to stay healthy.” 

Students in the diagnostic medical sonography program were unable to come to campus to use the scanning equipment, which is a huge way for them to learn and be comfortable with the equipment and scanning a human body.

“Our students will be making up the clinical hours in the summer semester,” said Amanda Hogan, diagnostic medical sonography program director and instructor. “All lectures are held live online for my classes and recorded for Stacey May’s.” 

Adapting and learning new techniques was also something instructors faced and led to some different participants in class.

“It forced me to learn how to use Canvas conferences and to come up with some creative ways to conduct class,” Monroe said. “Students really seemed to like the live online class and commented that they preferred it to just watching prerecorded lectures. Also, several students who didn’t typically answer questions in the face-to-face class did answer questions online either verbally or via the chat option.”

“I have been using video conferences with the students to try to stay connected as email is not always the best method of communication.  Thank goodness for technology,” Sartorelli said.

There has also been some positives to come out of the pandemic changes.

“One of the biggest positives is that everyone is now aware of, is not taking face-to-face time for granted or the technology that is available to use at the college,” Hogan said. “We have so many wonderful resources in the sonography lab that we take for granted every day. I look forward to the days I can talk in the hallways and see everyone’s smiling faces.”

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