Faculty Member Combines Passion for Nursing and Technology
Technology and computers have always interested Kent State University College of Nursing Senior Lecturer Jeremy Jarzembak, RN, who co-coordinates the Olga A. Mural Simulation Lab and teaches informatics at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The field of informatics focuses on trends in data, such as electrocardiograms, lab values, or medication administration procedures among other designated tasks, in order to provide a specific point of care for clinicians.
To Jarzembak, it is the backbone of modern nursing.
“Informatics does not make the decisions for healthcare providers, but it does help them to augment their decisions to ensure they are making the correct ones,” he said.
Jarzembak’s passion is now helping to revolutionize the way Kent State nursing students learn to utilize technology within their practice.
Jarzembak assists in developing, designing and programing all of the nursing simulation activities, many of which are derived from real patient encounters.
“I use situations that are fun, but I also keep it simple because I’ve observed it’s often the simple things students overlook,” he said. “I want my students to understand that if they slow down and work through simple assessments first, the hard stuff comes to the surface because they’ve already eliminated the obvious.”
When Jarzembak started at Kent State as a part-time clinical instructor in 2007, there were only two manikins and one simulation exercise for the entire college. Now, each nursing course offers a simulation experience that is constantly evolving.
“Our simulations utilize state-of-the-art computerized manikins, virtual simulation products and student actors who assist in preparing our nursing students for the practice environment,” Jarzembak said. “Grant, university and private funding has allowed us to purchase additional equipment to provide unique situations our students may not encounter in their clinical rotations.”
Along with a team of Kent State faculty members, Jarzembak has had the opportunity to present nationally about the evolution of Kent State’s nursing simulations.
“We’ve presented how we grew our program,” Jarzembak said. “We’re doing some pretty cutting-edge stuff that people haven’t done before. We have mastered utilizing our space and moving many students through the simulations each week.”
Jarzembak first discovered teaching was his purpose while at the bedside.
“I was always orientating a new nurse or working with nursing students,” Jarzembak said. “Teaching just fit my personality.”
As a graduate assistant, he once again affirmed he was called to teach.
“I wanted to show others how to do things and have fun at the same time,” said Jarzembak, who uses his personal experiences as an ICU nurse to breathe life into his lectures. “Class discussions are more engaging when I can share my firsthand experience with students and explain why they need to know this information.”
After 12 years of teaching at Kent State’s College of Nursing, Jarzembak says his favorite aspect of educating are the informal student conversations.
“As students begin to share their clinical experiences with me, I enjoy hearing their thought processes evolve,” he said.
These conversations also help Jarzembak to measure his effectiveness as a professor.
“There have been occasions where I’ve discovered I need to change the way I’m teaching a subject because I’m either not explaining it the right way or it’s being interpreted differently by my students,” Jarzembak said.
In addition to teaching, Jarzembak is in the process of completing his Ph.D. in health informatics. Although it can be challenging to balance at times, he credits the experience for making him a better educator.
“I’m learning different perspectives for design and organization, which ties back to healthcare through electronic health records and technology,” Jarzembak acknowledges. “I have read innovative informatics research, and I’ve incorporated that knowledge into my classes.”
The opportunity to teach has been one of the most rewarding moments of Jarzembak’s nursing career.
“I love knowing that a little piece of my knowledge has been passed on to my students,” Jarzembak said. “It’s amazing to think it might make an impact not only in their lives as nurses, but in the lives of future patients as well.”
At the end of the day, Jarzembak knows not all of his students will become critical care nurses or share his passion for technology. He does, however, hope each becomes a strong critical thinker. He offers the following advice for his students and seasoned nurses.
“The more you are exposed to, the more apt you will become at dealing with difficult things,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to find out what’s going on in different environments or situations. It’ll make you a better nurse.”