View from the Chair
by Kim Fenstermacher, Ph.D., CRNP
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
This scripture has been my guiding verse throughout my journey of Christian faith. But this fall, as I transitioned into my new role as the Chair of the Department of Nursing at Messiah College, this verse has been my daily prayer. My fervent desire is that I will honor God in all that I do in life, and this past year, that meant following the call to join the Community of Educators at Messiah College. It’s not all that easy to change jobs after you reach a certain age! But I had a peace that was guiding my heart, and so without hesitation, I arrived on campus on August 1, 2018 to begin this new chapter in my life. I was quickly immersed in the onboarding process of meeting my new colleagues and finding my way around campus. From the moment I arrived, I have felt warmly welcomed by the Messiah community.
There is truly something special here at Messiah College. It’s almost palpable! As a qualitative researcher, I tend to see big picture “themes” in my experiences, and my transition to the role of Chair is no exception. Here are the themes that I have noted in my first six months as Chair that describe Messiah Nursing: a spirit of caring hospitality, a commitment to academic excellence, a focus on evidence-based practice, an appreciation for global perspective, and a spirit of innovation and improvement. As any good qualitative researcher knows, we must back up our assertions with data. Here’s the evidence!
A spirit of caring hospitality: First, there is a palpable spirit of caring hospitality at Messiah College, beautifully modeled by our college president, Dr. Kim Phipps. This caring is lived out through action as evidenced by the way our student nurses and faculty rally in prayerful support of one another. For example, this fall, right before mid-term exams, senior nursing students wrote words of encouragement and scripture all over the blackboard in the classroom where the juniors would be taking their exam. Later, during finals week in December, students wrote words of affirmation on cards that were placed in the student lounge to uplift and support each other. Recently, sophomore students were “matched” to senior students in a mentoring program to offer support as the sophomore nursing students transition into their first clinical courses. It is truly wonderful to behold this caring spirit in these future nurses!
A commitment to academic excellence: Secondly, there is a commitment to produce excellence in academic quality and rigor. I see this excellence lived out daily by the faculty and staff across the undergraduate and graduate levels, as they pour out their talent and time in service to our students. I also see excellence in the performance of our most recent 2018 baccalaureate graduates who made us so proud with their 97.4% first time NCLEX pass rate! Congratulations to the Class of 2018! Kudos are also due to Dr. Megan Gross who finished her PhD in 2018 and was named a Jonas Scholar by the National League for Nursing. Dr. Gross will present her dissertation findings at the 2019 Eastern Nursing Research Society conference in April 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Kristen Slabaugh, Coordinator of the BS to DNP/FNP program published results of her DNP project, titled “Initiation of Standardized Depression Screening in College Health: A Quality Improvement Project” in the Journal of Doctoral Nursing Practice.
A focus on evidence-based practice: Thirdly, Messiah nursing students are participating in evidence-based practice projects with nurses from both Geisinger Holy Spirit and UPMC Pinnacle Hospitals as part of their senior level Nursing Research course. This partnership between our students and area Magnet-designated hospitals has been a win-win as our students learn the knowledge and skill of evidence appraisal and begin to appreciate the value of improving patient outcomes with the best evidence to guide their practice. The intentional focus on evidence-based practice is preparing our graduates with the knowledge and skills to engage in the important work of delivering nursing care that is safe, efficient and effective. Additionally, the opportunity to work with practicing nurses to answer a clinical question and synthesize the evidence culminates in a poster and podium presentation at the annual Nursing Research and Evidence-based Practice conferences for both Geisinger Holy Spirit (Fall conference) and UPMC Pinnacle (Spring conference).
An appreciation for global perspective: Our students are gaining global perspective and honing their clinical judgment and critical thinking in real life as they engage in study abroad either in the fall of sophomore year or during Senior Practicum. There is a rich appreciation for cultural diversity and a new found realization of the limitations of healthcare resources among the students who studied abroad in Thailand and Zambia. They saw first-hand the challenges that face nurses in the small African villages and under-served communities in Thailand.
A spirit of innovation and improvement: I am excited about the innovative teaching strategies and interprofessional opportunities that we are infusing across our curriculum. For example, senior nursing students will participate in an interprofessional ethics case study simulation as part of their senior seminar In April. They will also join students from the health-related graduate degree programs at Messiah College to participate in an interprofessional simulation at our Winding Hill location. Also in April, students from the Community Health course will lead the annual college-wide Disaster Drill, engaging the participation of multiple disciplines across campus. We continue to strive for continual improvement of our program and to that end, we hope to introduce the ELNEC modules across our junior and senior level courses in Fall semester 2019. This state of the art curriculum will prepare our students with competencies in the delivery of nursing care for patients at end of life or those receiving palliative care. In another continuous quality improvement project, we have been evaluating and improving how we measure the outcomes of the summative simulation that our students do at the end of every clinical course. We were pleased to welcome Dr. Melody Seitz as the new Simulation Coordinator and Rachel Lippert, Sim Lab Coordinator. Both are doing an excellent job keeping our simulation center running smoothly and efficiently.
In closing, it is a privilege for me to follow in the footsteps of former department chair and longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Nancy Woods who retired last summer. Under the astute leadership of the past chairs of nursing, including the most recent leadership of Dr. Woods and Dr. Carolyn Kreamer, as well as the leadership of Dr. Louann Zinsmeister and Dr. Kristen Slabaugh in the Graduate programs, the Messiah College Department of Nursing has become known for its academic excellence, pursuit of evidence-based practice, and commitment to service. These qualities are what drew me to Messiah. At our first department meeting of the 2018-2019 academic year, I challenged the faculty and staff to join me in this prayer from Colossians chapter 3, and to also do as Paul admonishes us: “Put on then as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (Col. 3:12; ESV).” I want Messiah Nursing to be known for nursing excellence, but above all, my desire is that we are a nursing program that honors the Lord in all we do. My commitment is to honor the legacy of excellence that I inherited and to do my best to honor the Lord in word and in deed, giving thanks to the Lord for leading me to Messiah College.
Blessings, Kim Fenstermacher, PhD, CRNP
- Kim Fenstermacher published Fenstermacher, K., & Hupcey, J. E. (2019). Support for young Black urban women after perinatal loss. MCN: Maternal Child Nursing, 44(1), 13-19. doi:10.1097/NMC.0000000000000485
- Kristen Slabaugh published Slabaugh, K., Harris, S., and Wilcock, S. (2018). Initiation of standardized depression screening in college health: A quality improvement project. Journal of Doctoral Nursing Practice, 11(2), 143-148. http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/2380-9418.104.22.168
- Marti Derr completed a certification course as a Trauma Professional through the Arizona Trauma Institute
- Megan Gross presented “The Impact of Text Messages on Anxiety and Health-Promoting Behaviors among Baccalaureate Nursing Students: A Mixed-Methods Approach” at the Eastern Nursing Research Society and poster presentation at the UPMC Pinnacle Nursing Research Conference.
- Megan Gross was appointed as a National League of Nursing Jonas Scholar.
A Time of Change
On November 10, 2018, the Lambda Kappa Chapter of Sigma Nursing Honor Society welcomed 14 undergraduate and eight graduate nursing students into membership. The induction ceremony was held in the Hollinger Lounge in Jordan Atrium. Juliana Frederick, Vice President, welcomed inductees, members, and guests by explaining the Sigma call to action of connect, collaborate, and catalyst. Each inductee received a ribbon, certificate, and honor cord before signing his or her name in the chapter book. Keynote speaker, Dr. Tara Jankouskas, gave an enlightening address on the importance of teamwork in crisis response. She explained her dissertation research study to determine whether crisis resource management training affected interprofessional performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Although no difference in response time or error rate existed between groups who received only basic life support training as compared to groups who received basic life support and crisis resource management training, the groups receiving crisis resource management training had statistically significant improved teamwork. This teamwork correlated with reduced number of errors and decreased response time. Following the ceremony, a delicious dinner was enjoyed by all.
Student Nurses Association
Nurse’s Christian Fellowship
By Jackie Comly ’20, President
Nurses Christian Fellowship (NCF) seeks to equip, empower, and encourage nursing students to pursue Christ in this season of life and in our career as nurses. We seek to create an environment where community is found, where faith is taken to new levels, and where we can process our lives as nursing students. We meet each Wednesday in Kline and begin by sharing the highs and lows of our week. We then dive into scripture, discuss the material for the week, and pray for the needs in our lives and the lives of those in our community. This year, we used RightNow Media as a resource for our devotionals. During the fall semester, we learned from Louie Giglio and his sermons on Colossians. Our sessions focused on seeing a complete picture of Jesus and allowed us to contemplate how it applies in the context of nursing. In the spring semester, we listened to Francis Chan and his teachings on Mark and were reminded of the freeing message of the gospel. As nursing students, we often struggle with finding our identity in our academics and can feel shame when we do not live up to the expectations we place on ourselves. This message can turn our perspectives from our accomplishments to the ultimate saving work of Jesus.
We began our year with the NCF kick off picnic. We had more attendees than expected, but somehow there was enough pizza to go around. It felt like a “five loaves of bread and two fishes” kind of scenario, but God not only provided food but lots of fun as well. We held a new event this year, which was started by two of our sophomore attendees. They suggested we have an outreach specifically for freshman to feel welcome. This event went very well and we are looking to continue to do a freshman mixer. We held a destress fest in November which is dedicated to finding relaxation amidst the stress of school. It was full of snacks, prizes, crafts, and music. We held our annual Christmas party at our advisor, Wanda Thuma-McDermond’s house. It was a success! We had retired professor Pam Linstedt bring her infamous casseroles for breakfast. We went around, shared some of our favorite Christmas memories, and then held a white elephant gift exchange. It was a time full of cheer and friendship and was a sweet way to end the semester. This semester, we are planning a service trip to Inspirations Memory Care in Maryland. These assisted living facilities seek to provide purpose, joy, and laughter for residents with Alzheimer’s disease. We are so excited to partner with them and to be able to serve the residents and staff there! The Lord continues to bless NCF and add to our numbers and our depth of conversation. We are so thankful for all He has done and look forward to all He will continue to do among the nursing students at Messiah College!
Nursing from a Christian Perspective
By Dr. Sarah Jones (with assistance from Brittany McCullough ’21)
In NURS 203: Historic and Conceptual Basis for Nursing, sophomores learn the role of the Christian Nurse: to see everyone as made in the image of God, considering the person, their culture, and their environment when addressing needs of individuals. Recently, nursing sophomores, Olivia Jimenez and Brittany McCullough, applied what they were learning to address an important issue for first year nursing majors. Read how they handled this in a nursing process sort of way.
Assessment – (subjective) When talking with first year nursing majors, sophomores, Olivia Jimenez and Brittany McCullough, discovered some students felt disconnected from the major given that they were taking classes with other students in non-nursing courses. Brittany and Olivia recalled feeling isolated from the major themselves as first year students. They recalled that a strong nursing friend group helped them stay encouraged through demanding science courses. They believed some students who did not have this support changed their interest toward other majors that seemed easier or more attractive to a first-year student. Objective assessment: The first year plan of study includes rigorous courses: chemistry and two semesters of anatomy and physiology. These are offered for all science majors. The first “nursing” course is in fall of sophomore year: NURS 203 Historical and Conceptual Basis for Nursing.
Diagnosis – First year nursing students at risk for changing major or not succeeding as a nursing major R/T feeling unsupported by other nursing majors and or being in non-nursing courses
Plan – Provide social support to first year nursing students to prevent feelings of isolation from the major and students in the major.
Implementation – Brittany and Olivia assessed attitudes of first year students and fellow sophomores confirming their concerns. They met with Dr. Sarah Jones about their concerns and possible actions including planning an event inviting first year students to meet upper class nursing majors as a bridge of support during the first year of non-nursing courses. They worked with Dr. Wanda Thuma-McDermond to obtain date availability, NCF for funding food, and Beth Aumen for email access to first year nursing majors. They enlisted help of fellow sophomore and junior level nursing majors. Then, they reached out via email to first year students inviting them to fun and fellowship. On November 14, 2018, Olivia and Brittany held a fellowship event titled “Sophomore-Freshman hang out” for first year nursing majors in Kline 19. First year and upper level nursing majors met for fun, food, and fellowship.
Evaluation – All students had a good time. First year nursing majors in attendance appreciated the effort to reach out to them and welcomed similar opportunities to gather. Olivia and Brittany hope to continue the connection between first and second year nursing majors in the future. Hopefully, first year nursing students will engage in Nurses Christian Fellowship and Student Nurses Association to feel a part of the major while waiting to be in actual nursing courses. Hats off to these two ladies who saw a need, felt ‘called to care’ for their peers, and took action to help improve outcomes for first years.
Mini Golf Nursing Style
By Dr. Megan Gross
The Murray Library held its third annual mini golf through the stacks event on Friday, March 29. Various departments and teams designed mini golf holes to articulate their specific program or job function. Megan Gross designed the nursing department’s hole. Her creation was nominated as the students’ favorite hole in course B.
The nursing mini golf hole had a lantern and Florence Nightingale book, various syringe stacks, nursing textbooks, blood pressure cuffs, contamination box, diabetic foot, heart module, and so much more! Participants were able to jam out to “staying alive” during the hole and were able to enjoy a piece of chocolate that was held in a bedpan!
Identity is defined as a distinguishing character or personality of an individual. It is a powerful concept with which many adolescents and young adults struggle. Each person at some point in life has to come to terms with his or her own identity. The amount of hard work, dedication, and time that is invested in the pursuit to becoming a registered nurse leads to the title, “nursing student,” becoming a defining part of who we are during our college years. It is easy to allow our passion and goals, which we spend the majority of our energy and time accomplishing, overcome every aspect of who we are. One of my favorite verses is Colossians 2:9-10, which says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Throughout nursing school, I have struggled with the question, “Should I allow my accomplishments and failures define who I am?” At the end of today, regardless of what has happened, I can rest in the fact that I have already been made full in who God says I am and what Christ has done for me. We all know nursing school is not an easy journey and for many it is more of a sacrifice than it is for others. So how can we restructure our mindset to live out the years of our education feeling full in our identity despite the anxiety provoking simulations, exams, and clinical on top of every other area that encompasses our lives?
I remember sitting in Kline 14 ready (not so ready) to take my first real nursing final...pathophysiology. For years, I have struggled with test anxiety, feeling no confidence in my nursing knowledge despite how much I had prepared. In my chair I could feel the panic begin to take over, until I looked up and saw the words, “You are not your exam grade,” written on the chalkboard at the front of the room. It was an immediate reminder that I was child of God designed with intentional purpose regardless of what results I would receive a few hours later. Although it was such a small gesture, it was exactly what I needed in a time of vulnerability. That day I decided I would continue the same support and encouragement that had such an impact on me. I started writing words of encouragement and scripture verses on the chalkboards before exams and recruited other students to assist me. So, to answer the question how can we live feeling full in our identity despite nursing school anxiety? Unconditional Support. We need students, leaders, and professors that consistently encourage one another in a way to instill the confidence needed to allow each student to demonstrate competence to their fullest.
What happens when you have been supported, encouraged, and worked hard, yet, unfortunately, have come face to face with what seems like the most traumatic outcome one could face academically? Failure of class. Nursing curriculum is designed in a way that if one fails a course he or she is not permitted to graduate with their cohort. Embarrassment, financial worry, identity crisis, and anxiety are a few of the issues that immediately flood a student faced with this obstacle. As someone who came terrifyingly close to this reality as well as having a few of my closest friends actually experience it, I am aware of the impact failure has on a person’s motivation, self-esteem, and most importantly identity. It did not feel right to me to not provide some kind of follow up support. This year I have been privileged to have friends who have experienced a five-year nursing education willingly write letters of encouragement to students battling these issues. A common theme of these letters centered on the idea that the journey to your calling comes in all different forms and timelines. Not one person’s experience with nursing school with be exactly like another. Exam scores, failures, or accomplishments does not define your identity. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For the Spirit of God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Nursing school is hard but we have an amazing opportunity to create an atmosphere that crushes anxiety, encourages and supports, as well as redefines our definition of identity.
Chalkboard quotes: The aid to my anxiety
By Sarina Gonzalez ‘20
I am one of those people who have major test anxiety. I can study for hours, be knowledgeable on every topic that is on the exam, and still not feel ready. I would open the exam and the fear of failing would overwhelm me. We have so much riding on these exams because we must have an average of a 75% minimum to move on within the nursing program. My anxiety was put at ease when I came in to the testing room and looked at the chalkboards.
The chalkboards were always covered in supportive quotes every day I had an exam. I loved to read them as I inhaled my essential oils to calm down. The quotes reminded me of how I had studied, was prepared, and that I could do it. The quotes also gave me hope knowing that the seniors wrote them because they had been in my shoes, passed, and are about to graduate. The program is hard, but manageable. The chalkboards even reminded me to breathe some days. I would like to thank all the seniors who encouraged me as a sophomore and now as a junior. One good deed can help many in unmeasurable ways.
A Special Pinning and Worship Night
By Katie Haught ‘19
I work among the simulators in the nursing labs at Messiah. Sometimes, it can be a little creepy seeing the dummies in hospital beds at night. However, for the past two years, I have loved my job as a nursing lab work-study student. I started this job fall semester of my junior year. My typical work week consists of one evening per week for six hours with every other Saturday/Sunday shift for a couple hours. During my shifts, I organize lab materials, set up skill labs for various nursing courses, and assist students.
During the fall of my senior year, I volunteered to teach a supplemental instruction group for junior nursing students taking the maternity nursing course. At Messiah College, the maternity course is known for being difficult, so I wanted to use my teaching abilities to assist the junior nursing students. The group tutoring sessions occurred about once a week during my lab hours. I loved this experience. Getting to tutor and mentor junior nursing students was a great blessing in my life. It solidified my desire to teach nursing students in the future.
A Semester Down Under
By Sarah Reed ‘21
This past fall I traveled down under to study abroad in Australia. I was a part of the Australia Studies Program and studied at Christian Heritage College. In classes, I learned about the Aboriginal culture and their values about ancestry and country. We traveled to Stradbroke Island and learned to throw boomerangs and spears, make sand art, and completely embrace ourselves in the indigenous culture. I also learned about how Australia came to be and how it has modernized over time. It was very interesting to compare healthcare systems, government structures, and immigration laws in Australia to the ones in America. The program also took us to Parliament, the Outback, and St. Helena Island to tie in with our studies.
While there, I stayed with a host family. Before leaving, I filled out a questionnaire so I could be paired with a family that was good for me. I was placed with a South African family and their daughter was a last semester paramedic student. We quickly bonded and became very close before she left to go on practicum for six weeks. Staying with my family were also Japanese and Chinese host students. They were both in high school and learning English. I loved being a part of a family, instead of just staying in a dorm, because I was tied into a church and was able to go to birthdays, events, fundraisers, beach trips, a rugby game, and got to meet a lot of Aussies. The family dynamic was a very loving and welcoming family and it made my transition to a new culture a lot easier.
On a hill in a “small town” of 7 million people in Luoyang, China, sits a big blue house of hope. This house is filled with beautifully precious children, children waiting for a place to call home and people to call Mom and Dad. I had the deepest privilege of working with these kids every day for a year. I worked with an organization called Show Hope, which is a nonprofit organization based out of Franklin, TN started by Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. Their mission is to care for orphans by engaging the church and reducing barriers to adoption. They provide grants to families to aid in the adoption costs, deliver medical care to orphans with medical needs in China and offer pre and post-adoption support and education. I was honored to be a part of the medical team caring for the orphans in China.
When I graduated from nursing school at Messiah in 2010, I had studied abroad in my sophomore year of school and got the bug to continue traveling. When the opportunity came to move to China, I could not resist. Upon my first few weeks there, my life was in total upheaval. When they tell you to be flexible in the medical field and in moving across the world, they really mean it. Many days I was thinking there was no way I would make it as a nurse in a country where I cannot even communicate with the nannies caring for the children. I am sure my preparation at Messiah College was some of what helped me to continue stepping forward. I had a solid nursing education and learned all of it with the Lord as the foundation. Each day held new challenges and I learned a new and complete dependence on the Lord. I also learned a lot about the orphan crisis. Not just what the numbers were but the promise and hope seen in each little face.
No longer is the orphan a number or statistic. It is pudgy cheeks and little fingers, hundreds of little unique personalities, resilient children experiencing miracles and the Lord in each of their sweet faces. These very children gave me a deep look into the love of the Lord. They loved without ceasing, even with their traumatic backgrounds. Adoption is a beautiful reflection of the Lord’s love for us. When families would come to adopt a child in our care, they were immediately loved, held and cherished by their parents. The child had done nothing to earn that love, it was just freely and unconditionally given to them because they were their child. To be a part of something so closely woven into who the Lord is and His Word was a privilege. In this place, we saw joy, heartbreak and miracles. Children who had recently been on oxygen were crawling and running around, kids with feeding tubes began taking their first bites of food, precious ones that some might think would never walk started taking their first steps. Some children we held until they went home to be with the Lord, never again to experience the pain of being orphaned.
One precious little girl and her story will stick with me forever. She came to us with severe heart disease. Shortly after her admission, she went into heart failure. She needed surgery to live. So, we put her on a seven hour train ride with oxygen that would last for five hours and we prayed. She made it and returned to the big blue house of hope. Shortly after that, she went into heart failure again. This time, the hospital said there was nothing else they could do. So, we prayed for her little life and for a family. She and I spent much of our time together due to her declining health and well, because I loved that little girl. Any moment spent with her was never wasted. After a few months of praying, we discovered she was matched to a family! We celebrated and praised the Lord! As we prayed for her family, we specifically prayed they would be able to take her home soon and that they would love the Lord, raising her up in a Christian home. The Lord heard and answered those prayers in a way that was immeasurably more than I could have ever thought to pray for. Because that is who He is. Now, that precious girl had the necessary heart surgery and she is now healthy and robust. The cherry on top, she lives about 35 minutes away from me with her family who loves the Lord deeply. Not only did the Lord specifically place her in this God-fearing family, but in one so near to me. I remain continually in awe. I get to see her often and see her as she is now walking and talking, thriving in the life she has been given. The Lord has written miracles into her life and will only continue to do the good work in which He has already begun.
Each child has an inherent, God-given right to be a part of a loving, caring family. As Christians, the Lord tells us that, “. . .true and pure religion is caring for the orphan and the widow. . .” (James 1: 27). We are not all called to adopt but we are each called to do something. After spending time with the children I only before saw as statistics, has changed my life. I urge you to take a deeper look into becoming a part of orphan care. It is absolutely worth it.
Being the Hands and Feet of Christ in Haiti
By Sara Mueller ‘11
Hi there! My name is Sara Mueller. I graduated with my BSN from Messiah College in 2011. At our Pinning Ceremony, our class motto was “Being the Hands and Feet of Christ.” We were ready to take on post college life roaring to go and ready to be the hands and feet of Christ in our nursing career as well as life. After graduation, I got my dream job of being a Maternity/Labor and Delivery nurse at Hershey Medical Center where I currently still work. I enjoy being the hands and feet of Christ there to the new moms and babies I take care of as well as my co-workers and hospital staff.
In January of this year, I had the honor of being the hands and feet of Christ in Haiti! Whew! Talk about a culture and perspective change! I was serving with a young adult team from my church on a weeklong mission trip at an amazing organization called Mission of Hope. I have had the honor of serving in Haiti at Mission of Hope on 4 other trips as well and was pumped to go back for my 5th trip! My heart fell in love with the beautiful country and amazing people in Haiti on my very first trip there in 2013 and my heart will never be the same! God is really working in Haiti and Mission of Hope is seeking to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti. Mission of Hope is doing an AMAZING job and people’s lives and hearts are being changed! It is incredible to be a witness to life transformation.