Simulation laboratory specialist, School of Nursing
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown is Sandwich, Illinois, and I now live in Yorkville, Illinois.
Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
Northern Illinois University, B.S. in nursing
Olivet Nazarene University, M.S. in nursing
Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
A typical day running simulation scenarios for nursing students consists of running the mannequin controls, voicing the mannequin and debriefing the students when the scenario ends. Several sessions can occur in one day. We run realistic scenarios for the students where they're caring for their patient on their own. They don't have a clinical instructor in the lab with them, so they have to make decisions based on their assessment and the patient's situation. With this kind of experiential learning, students can safely make mistakes and learn from them. I debrief every student to explore the thoughts they had during the scenario, and their classmates give them feedback from what they viewed. It helps them see the bigger picture and develop their critical thinking as a nurse.
What do you like about working at NIU?
NIU gives me the opportunity to provide nursing education to students instead of working at the bedside as a nurse myself. It's very rewarding when you see students grow throughout the program.
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Keep persevering through this difficult time. The pandemic has been a challenge for all students, but especially for certain students in the School of Nursing. While it might not have been the experience you expected, keep striving to do your best because soon you'll be caring for patients in need.
In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
I am so impressed by the way School of Nursing supports students, especially our labs. The skills and simulation labs have taken on so much during the pandemic to support students who didn't have an actual clinical site to go to. It was a huge undertaking, but we wanted to provide students with the most valuable experience we could. And all of that truly couldn't be done without my colleagues.
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I don't have any specific favorite memories, but I have so many from being an undergraduate going to nursing school here to now working here. It's fun and exciting to create more memories and compare how things have changed, but also how some things are the same.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I had envisioned being a nurse for many years, starting at the bedside, but I wanted to advance my career in management/hospital administration. I really never had any intentions of teaching. After realizing I liked to mentor new nurses, I decided to try being a clinical instructor for the School of Nursing. After one semester I realized I loved it, and when a simulation position opened up, I went for it. I absolutely love simulation education. It's different from other forms of education and so valuable for students.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love spending time with my husband and kids. I'm lucky enough to have time off in the summer so we make good use of the nearby waterpark and enjoy time together. The school year is so busy for me and my girls; it's nice to be able to have uninterrupted time with them, especially while they're still young.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I love that I'm able to say I'm a graduate of NIU and now I work here. I know what it's like to go through what my students are going through, especially having gone through the program myself.