Faculty Spotlight on Melissa Owen, MSN, RN
Learning by doing is the most effective way to help nursing students master their vital roles as troubleshooters, patient advocates and agents of healing. According to Melissa Owen, MSN, RN, that’s why her hands-on instructional approach makes the Kent State Geauga nursing program so successful.
As a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) coordinator and lecturer for the Kent State Geauga College of Nursing for the past two years, Owen points to three major accomplishments since she took leadership in the program:
- 100% NCLEX pass rates. This means that each Kent State Geauga graduate in 2018 passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) on their first attempt, achieving a 100 percent pass rate, compared to the national average pass rate of 89.7 percent
- Establishing new relationships and open communication among clinical partners, including local and regional hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare centers. For instance, active partnerships provide clinical and practicum placements with The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, the Veterans Healthcare System of Cleveland, and local community and public healthcare organizations throughout Geauga County. A workforce training association has also been established with University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center to prepare more nurses for the workforce and decrease the regional nursing shortage through the Summer Nurse Extern program. Even before receiving their degrees, more than half of last summer’s 17 nursing graduates were already employed as state-tested nursing assistants (STNAs) by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals healthcare systems.
- Increased focus on simulation and student nurse skill proficiency. The nursing program is purchasing a state-of-the-art SIM Man 3G model for simulated clinical training, installed and ready to use by Fall 2019. The model can display neurological and physiological symptoms and is designed to deliver the most realistic training possible so students can practice basic and advanced clinical skills without posing any risk to patients.
However, this SIM Man is not yet fully funded, and the simulation model represents only one aspect of a major effort to upgrade nursing instruction facilities and equipment at Kent State Geauga. Owen says, “This is a work in progress, not where we need to be, but we continue to pursue it to ensure our students are prepared to develop hands-on and critical thinking skills.”
In the meantime, Owen’s hands-on approach prompts her to share personal experiences and use real-life scenarios that challenge students to apply what they have learned in class to patient care. For example, she conducts student testing out in the lab, where they need to know how to perform specific skills. In these labs, Owen explains, “I play the patient with an artificial wound. The student needs to go through the appropriate steps in completing the skill. During the dressing change, I may throw them a curve ball, like stating that I’m in pain or asking if I can go smoke a cigarette after the dressing change is done. The student should be able to recognize the connection between wound healing and smoking, and provide patient education.“
Of course, Owen is not leading Kent State Geauga’s nursing students single-handedly. “Collaboration with other nursing faculty is key in the success of our students, especially when it comes to the nursing lab and simulation,” Owen says. “Often when preparing for simulation, we meet to discuss how the simulation is going to be run, set up for simulation (ensuring realism), then meet afterward and debrief (determining what went well, what needs changed, and if the objectives were met, and determine how student outcomes can be improved. Without the collaboration and hard work of the nursing faculty at Kent State Geauga, we would not have a successful program. Student success is directly related to their passion for teaching nursing.”
While the Kent State Geauga nursing program is demanding, it is also nurturing. Owen shares, “Our regional campus offers a sense of community among faculty and students. It’s great to see faculty in other disciplines support the program and cheer its success.”
Kent State Geauga’s BSN program is evolving and growing. The BSN program has 60 nursing students currently enrolled in its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and expects enrollment of 90 BSN students by Fall 2019. Owen’s hands-on approach is perfecting the practice of nursing instruction, one student at a time.