Allied Health Alumni News

Posted April 12, 2017

Taking the next step

University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center President Charlotte Wray shares her tips for advancing your nursing career – and skills – at any age

Community colleges offer a cost-effective, easily accessible and manageable education for young students. But professionals looking to change or advance their careers later in life can also benefit, says Charlotte Wray, president of UH Elyria Medical Center and a Lorain County Community College graduate.

Wray says choosing LCCC was a critical step in her career success, giving her a foundation of skills that helped her obtain her BSN and MSN degrees. That success led to multiple leadership roles in her field.

“I am very proud to say that I am an LCCC grad and have always encouraged people to consider LCCC when they are pursuing an education,” she says. “The college is a great asset and has always been there to meet and exceed the needs of our community through the many educational programs it offers.”

Wray offers this advice on taking the next step in your nursing career.

Start with your ADN

Born and raised in Elyria, Wray stayed local when pursuing her college degree. She started her coursework and clinical rotations as a nursing student at LCCC and graduated with an associate of science degree in 1988.

Earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) is a good steppingstone to your next goal – an advanced degree. Students can typically earn an ADN degree in 18 to 24 months, learning important nursing skills in patient care and clinical decision making. Many ADNs obtain jobs in acute care facilities, as well as in doctor’s offices, clinics, home-care and long-term care facilities, and the military.

And LCCC offers introductions to potential employers.

“LCCC truly provides value and great opportunities for the students who participate, as well as employers seeking talent,” Wray says.

Invest in continuing education

Wray is a firm believer in continuing education. “I encourage all nurses to go back to school to obtain their bachelors and masters’ degrees,” she says.

A BSN degree is the next logical step in a nursing career and can open the door to many new job opportunities for nursing grads. And the timing couldn’t be better to pursue a BSN. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pushing to have 80 percent of hospital-employed nurses to possess a BSN by 2020. This call to action has motivated more health care employers to offer incentives such as tuition reimbursements and flexible scheduling that help ADN nurses complete their BSNs.

And if you decide not to earn another degree, continuing education courses can help you hone skills that can advance your career. Advanced coursework, seminars and professional organizations all provide opportunities to develop your knowledge and experience.

“We must embrace and commit to being lifelong learners and always try to improve ourselves personally and professionally year over year,” Wray says.

Join the conversation

Advancing your education isn’t the only way to move up the career ladder. If you are interested in a bigger leadership role in the health care field, start by becoming a voice within your community.

“As health care continues to change, the role of the RN is becoming more important to patients and their communities,” Wray says.

“Our knowledge, experiences and insights are critical to contributing to solutions and innovations, so we need to be at the table where these discussions are occurring, and we need to leverage our voices and expertise inclusively and effectively,” she says.

Wray always knew that she wanted to be more than a charge nurse; she wanted to make a difference in her community.

“I wanted to be the captain of the ship, so to speak,” Wray says. “I have a great deal of pride and ownership in the success of this hospital and the health and wellness of the communities we serve. I wanted to be in a position that would allow me to lead the great teams here at UH Elyria and leverage the strength of University Hospitals of Cleveland.”

Her advice to others who aspire to move up?

“It takes motivation and perseverance to be the captain of the ship,” she says.



Posted January 17, 2017

Flipping the classroom

Lorain County Community College is flipping its nursing program on its head. To keep pace with changing technology and shifting student demographics, the college has adopted a “flipped classroom model” to better train nursing students in the 21st century.

While flipped learning was developed in the 1990s, it has experienced a surge in adoption in recent years as educators seek ways to better engage the newest generation of students raised in a digital world. First applied mostly in secondary schools, it has been successfully introduced at a growing number of community colleges.

To learn about the new curriculum, which was introduced to LCCC’s nursing program this fall, we talked with Hope M. Moon, DNP, RN, CNS, Professor of Nursing and Dean of Allied Health, Nursing, Health, Physical Education & Recreation, at LCCC.

Q. Why is the LCCC changing its approach to the curriculum?

A: Research in nursing education indicates that a concept-based curriculum and a flipped classroom model of instruction provide a more practical education for nurses in the 21st century. The flipped classroom model, also known as team-based learning, can grasp the attention of the millennial generation of nursing students.

These students learn differently. This generation has been multitasking since the day they held their first iPhone. Many have a hard time concentrating during lectures, and LCCC has taken notice of it. The new classroom helps all students, not only millennials, improve critical thinking skills, clinical judgment and knowledge retention.

Q. Can you expand on the evidence you used to prove this is a better way to learn?

A: The nursing faculty researched the literature, including the Institutes of Medicine’s "Nurse of the Future" recommendations. We also attended conferences that presented research on the concept-based curriculum and its successes. The college then provided support to bring in Donna Ignatavicius, a nationally renowned consultant who worked with the faculty to develop the curriculum.

Q. Describe the changes in teaching methods.

A: Students view short video lectures at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects or discussions. The video lecture is often seen as the key ingredient in this approach, such lectures either being created by the instructor and posted online, or selected from an online repository.

The flipped classroom draws on concepts such as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design and course podcasting. The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop, where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge and interact with one another in hands-on activities.

During class sessions, instructors function as coaches or advisors, encouraging students in individual inquiry and collaborative learning.

It benefits the nurse educators, as well. When you teach in a new way, it becomes innovative and creative. The instructor's role is to assist in classroom activities, rather than to stand at a podium, losing the attention of the students. Keeping on task with lectures, students use the internet to keep in touch with the instructor and keep discussions going outside the classroom.

Q. Do current students have to take these classes for the nursing program, or is it new students only?

A: Only new nursing students will be eligible for the flipped classroom. It will better prepare them to work in the fast-paced, changing world of high-tech health care. Nursing Education Research has indicated that eight-week courses are more effective, so all nursing courses in the new curriculum are eight weeks.

Q. How do students sign up for these courses?

A: Students who are admitted to the nursing program register for these course through the division. We accept 106 students per semester in our pre-licensure program, 32 LPN-RN students annually and 24 Paramedic-to-RN students annually.

Q. Will the current nursing faculty be teaching the courses?

A: Yes, all faculty teaching these courses are full-time faculty with at least a master’s degree. Many of them have a doctoral degree or are pursuing their doctoral degrees in nursing education. They are excited to embrace these changes for new learners.

Q. How are nursing schools preparing students for the critical NCLEX exam with the new curriculum?

A: The curriculum is aligned with the NCLEX test plan and students are assessed to that at the end of each semester. LCCC also provides an exit exam at the completion of the curriculum to determine readiness for the NCLEX, as well as a live review for preparation.



Posted December 16, 2016

Best practice: What you need to know about privacy

With the enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996, privacy and confidentiality became the fundamental rights of all patients. Nurses have an ethical duty to protect these rights, but the increasing use of technology makes doing so more challenging.

Patricia Schrull, DNP, MBA, M.Ed, RN, professor and Nursing Programs administrator at Lorain County Community College, says that before the enactment of HIPAA, there was respect for patient confidentiality, but health care facilities were not bound to rules that protected the names of patients. Today, if an individual violates HIPAA, he or she could face criminal charges.

LCCC has a zero-tolerance policy for HIPAA violations by nursing students, Schrull says.

“If a student is found to share patient information, that student is immediately dismissed from the nursing program,” Schrull says. “This is stressed from day one by all faculty, with policies for confidentiality spelled out in nursing students’ handbooks.”

Nurses must share health information with other health care providers to help care for the patient, but only with those involved in the care.

“There is so much training about HIPAA from the first day of nursing training through orientation at a first position, and throughout the workplace experience, that it should not be difficult for nurses to maintain patient confidentiality,” she says. “It is ingrained from the very beginning. There is no reason not to keep patient confidentiality. A nurse’s job depends on it.”

Putting privacy into action

When it comes to maintaining patient privacy and confidentially, nurses need to be aware of their surroundings when discussing patient information.

“Any place that is very open to the public is a difficult place to maintain patient privacy,” Schrull says. “One such area is the emergency department, where there are many people sitting in waiting areas, visitors going in and out of treatment areas, triage nurses calling the name of the next person in line to seek treatment. Inpatient areas tend to be more limited in their interactions.”

The following guidelines can help ensure nurses don’t violate patient privacy.

   1. Don’t talk about patients in elevators or other public areas.

   2. Dispose of patient information in secure bins.

   3. Don’t leave computer screens open.

   4. Keep all paper charts away from patient areas.

   5. When using a dry erase board, use only a patient’s initials.

   6. Give reports in quiet areas or at the bedside.

   7. Report suspicious activity.

What happens at work stays at work – don’t share information with family or friends. Protecting the privacy of patients comes first.



Posted November 18, 2016

Simulating patient care

LCCC’s medical simulation center helps nursing students train in a real-life setting, without leaving campus. 

The center, which was supported financially by Sprenger Health Care Systems, allows instructors to reproduce a wide range of bedside scenarios and patient conditions. “It’s about as real as you can get without having a live patient,” says Dawn Sgro, director of the Allied Health and Nursing Program.

Nursing students spend countless hours in the classroom, but their training isn’t complete until they can apply what they’ve learned in a real-world setting – standing at a patient’s bedside. However, there are only so many teaching hospitals and clinics in which nurses can train, and only so many patients in those facilities.

To meet the need for training, nursing programs are increasingly turning to technology to give students experience in a simulated real-world environment.

Lorain County Community College is among the schools that have implemented simulation technology to provide nursing students with additional hands-on training. Although all registered nurses must still pass their clinicals by working with live patients, the college’s nursing students also have access to a full medical simulation center, located at Ridge Campus. The technology allows instructors to reproduce a wide range of bedside scenarios and patient conditions.

“It’s about as real as you can get without having a live patient,” says Dawn Sgro, director of LCCC’s Allied Health and Nursing Program, and one of the simulation center’s operators. “We’ve had students have visible emotional reactions when a patient doesn’t respond to a course of treatment as anticipated.”

How it works

The medical simulator is set up as a hospital room. A mannequin lies in a full-size hospital bed, connected to monitors that display the patient’s simulated vital signs.

“We have a number of simulation mannequins at the center, so students can work on male patients, female patients, children or babies,” Sgro says.

Mannequins are equipped with sensors and speakers that allow students to monitor symptoms including temperature and blood pressure, and they are able to produce audible symptoms such as coughing and heavy breathing. And they can talk.

Behind a panel of one-way glass, a staffer or student sits in a control booth, from which the simulation is directed. The mannequin is programmed to run a certain simulation, and the controller uses a microphone – connected to a speaker in the mannequin – to talk to and interact with nursing students.

“Each program in the system is designed to clue the students toward a specific diagnosis,” says Mary Grady, LCCC assistant professor and the simulation center’s coordinator. “For instance, if we run the congestive heart failure program, the mannequin is going to have a persistent cough, shortness of breath, swelling in the legs – all of the classic CHF symptoms.”

The person playing the part of the patient offers clues to the students, Grady says. In the congestive heart failure simulation, for example, the patient might complain of excessive fatigue and drop hints about an unhealthy diet.

“If they’re complaining of all these symptoms, and you ask them what they had for breakfast before they were admitted – if they say cola and potato chips, the student is going to take that into account,” Sgro says. “These are all things they’re going to report to the doctor.”

The future of medical simulation

As simulation technology advances, Sgro and Grady predict its role in nursing education will further expand.

“In the foreseeable future, simulation hours could count toward a student’s clinical requirements,” Grady says. “Live patient treatment is never going to be replaced, but these simulators are becoming so realistic, they’re a viable means of teaching and testing now.”

Providing students with access to a wide variety of experiences with different patients and scenarios is a great teaching tool, Sgro adds.

“Any way you can give students hands-on experience in a real setting, it’s going to make them all the more prepared to enter a challenging work environment,” she says.



Posted October 7, 2016

Partners in a new health care landscape

LCCC provides University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center with competitive talent and training

Technology in the health care field is constantly improving, and facilities such as UH Elyria Medical Center – now a part of the University Hospitals system – need medical professionals who are trained in the latest advancements.

With its main campus located just a few miles from UH Elyria Medical Center, Lorain County Community College is the natural choice to help train those professionals.

“When the M.B. Johnson School of Nursing was closed more than 25 years ago, LCCC became the major producer of health care talent for us,” says Charlotte Wray, UH Elyria Medical Center’s president. “They helped us address what became a significant nursing shortage industrywide in the ’80s, and beyond that, they’ve been a source for all kinds of allied health and business professionals – PT, OT and laboratory specialists, radiology technicians, surgery technicians, EMS and paramedic providers, and a long list of other professionals.”

Keeping up with change

Part of what makes LCCC nursing programs so successful is a focus on understanding and adapting to the latest requirements for health care talent.

“Our field is so much different from what it was even 10 or 20 years ago, and LCCC understands that they need to produce professionals who can thrive in that kind of environment,” Wray says.

One way LCCC prepares students is by promoting the importance of lifelong learning across all areas of study, especially in the nursing field.

“The college always challenges its students to keep learning,” Wray says. “I can’t tell you how important that is, as quickly as things change in health care. LCCC’s programs are designed to challenge students to think on their feet and be responsive as the delivery of health care changes.”

For example, LCCC partnered with UH Elyria Medical Center for the Innovations in Clinical Education (ICE) project, which certified UH Elyria Medical Center clinical managers as teachers. Under the supervision of these teacher-managers, LCCC students had the opportunity to be paid for clinical experience they received in a hands-on clinical environment.

A diverse student body

Not all nursing or medical professionals enter the field in their early to mid-20s. Some transition from previous careers, while others have taken time away from work to raise children. Each age group has different educational and lifestyle needs, something that Wray understands firsthand.

“I was in school at a time when I was working full time and had two small children,” Wray says. “I was able to go to LCCC and have those credits transfer to the University of Akron through the University Partnership program. It’s critically important to have flexibility for those of us who are trying to schedule classes and clinicals around the competing demands of working and raising a family.”

This flexibility helps students take charge of their schedules and their lives, at whatever point they may be in their careers.

“When you learn how to develop your leadership skills, I think it makes you stronger as a person, and LCCC tries to instill that,” she says. “It has certainly made me more open as a leader to the value of ongoing education and the value of alternative approaches to education.”

By preparing many different types of students to enter an ever-changing health care field, LCCC will continue to provide UH Elyria Medical Center and other facilities with competitive, talented professionals.

“That’s where LCCC is going to keep shining, and why we’re so happy to be partnered with them,” Wray says. “They want to go above and beyond. They want to prepare their students to excel in this world, and they want to keep responding to the needs of facilities like ours. And that’s critical to staying strong as an organization and a thriving community.”


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