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MCN talks about favorite experiences teaching

MCN Talks - Amie Walker and Lynn Kennel

MCN Talks is a bi-monthly series designed to give voice to different members of the MCN community. Twice a month, faculty, students, and staff are asked questions related to healthcare, education, or life in the nursing program at ISU.

What has been your favorite experience at MCN? 

Lynn Kennell, Instructional Assistant Professor: My most memorable experiences are always with students in some capacity. That said, three really stand out to me. Having the opportunity to teach students in Maternal Infant Nursing is probably my biggest joy. I love seeing students grow from the beginning of the semester to the end, and I love helping them to learn the role of the nurse in birthing babies. For me, every birth is a miracle. To help students really see that, and to show them how nursing can help to make the birth of a child a really special experience has been one of the highlights of my career. None of the students are the same. Every birth is unique, memorable, and always very, very special.

The second set of experiences that I have really enjoyed is taking students on transcultural nursing trips. Whether it’s to Texas or to Chicago to learn about the Latino culture, or to Brazil to learn about the Brazilian culture, my involvement in MCN’s transcultural nursing program has been one of the highlights of my life. The joy of it is that it broadens students’ horizons and makes them more sensitive and aware of the needs of those from other cultures.

My last passion is guiding students in their understanding of how to care for children. I teach the class Nursing Care of Children and it has always been such a joy. To show the impact that it has, I’m going to read something from one of our grads.

She wrote, “Since graduating from nursing school, I have seen so many disease processes that we talked about in nursing school. With each case, I become more and more grateful for how well Mennonite has prepared me for my nursing career.” Then, she goes into all of the things that she has seen from a pediatric perspective. She continues with, “And with all of those patients, I felt like Mennonite prepared me as well as I ever could have been, especially with regards to discharge instructions, or at the end of a chemo treatment for a child with cancer. I felt like I was making an impact!”

As a faculty member and as a teacher who is looking at how to foster outstanding graduates who advocate for their children and who are leaders in the nursing field, those are my biggest joys.

Amie Walker, Instructional Assistant Professor: I teach psych primarily. A lot of what psychiatric nursing focuses on is communication and developing relationships with patients. My favorite type of experience is when students are having that ‘aha!’ moment, and one in particular stands out to me.

One semester, I was teaching an Adult I Clinical, a course taken by students new to the program. So, they are always really worried about what medications they are going to give and preoccupied with getting their vital signs in. I firmly believe that nurses need to learn about the patients that they are treating. They need more than vitals to treat them effectively. So, as a psych teacher, I’m constantly pushing them, saying, “Go talk to your patients! Go talk to your patients!”

Often, they respond with, “I don’t know what to do. I’m done with my vitals.”

So, in this one situation, we had a patient in the hospital with a history of addiction and wounds as a result of using. Everyone was really worried about the addiction aspect of this patient.

I encouraged one of my students into the patient’s room, saying, “Go talk! Go talk!” The student was very uncomfortable so I went in as well, and we started talking to the patient.

The patient said to us, “Everybody is worried about my addiction. I know they are. That’s all they ask me about, and that’s all they care about.” The patient paused for a long moment, and then continued, “I’ve been clean for almost a year. I’m trying to get my kids back. I have drug tests proving that I’m clean. Nobody has asked me about my depression.”

From there, the patient started to cry. They talked about grief, and all of the loss that they had experienced.

I could see it on my student’s face: This is why you want me to talk to my patients.

It was something that even the floor nurses had ignored because there is such a stigma with addiction and, as a result, no one had worried about depression. It took me forcing my student into that conversation to show us that you can’t have those stigmas, even as nurses.

Just because someone has had an addiction, that does not mean that that is the only thing wrong with them. As nurses, we have to look at individual patients as a whole person. Not just someone with an addiction. Not just someone with wounds. Look at the whole person. This patient had an immense amount of grief and by communicating with them, we were able to see that. It resulted in a real ‘aha!’ moment for my student.

 

About Us

Lynn Kennel - Mennonite College of Nursing

Lynn Kennell – Instructional Assistant Professor

Learn more about Lynn.

Amy Walker - Mennonite College of Nursing

Amie Walker – Instructional Assistant Professor

Learn more about Amie.

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