Nursing is a demanding field to pursue, and students tend to struggle with a required first semester class — Nursing 140, Nursing Concepts I. To combat the attrition rate, the Nursing 140 I-Best Program was developed to help students. Not only has it facilitated success, but also was named Innovation of the Year.

Nursing 140 focuses on the fundamentals of basic nursing care. The problem is the massive amount of foreign content for beginning nursing students. Exam questions are concept based. They are presented with scenarios and have to interpret them.

“Nursing depends on critical thinking. Students struggle with this change of thought process. They need to learn how to study and focus on what’s important,” explained Ann Marie Jagiella, associate professor of Nursing. “The content is hard, and our exams are foreign to them. It’s not just naming facts. They have to think through the problem, and it’s hard for them.”

To address this problem and help students better acclimate to the Nursing program, the department partnered with Learning Enrichment and College Readiness to develop an I-Best program. Patrick Lohan, education specialist in Adult Basic Education, sat in the Nursing 140 class for its eight-week duration to understand the class and learn the content. Then he led this now-required one-time supplemental class to teach students how to study and focus on what’s important, prioritize, reduce their anxiety about material and help them in test taking.

“I’m confident in what I’m doing, and I appreciate what Patrick does. The collaboration of two very different departments has been successful,” Jagiella said. “I focus on content, and he helps them think critically. If anything, it’s helped my job, but my course and content is still the same.”

In addition to Jagiella and Lohan, who are the two front people working directly with students, Georgina Murphy, director of Nursing; Dr. Kelli Nickols, assistant professor and department chair of Nursing; and Dr. Kiana Battle, dean of Career Programs, are involved with this project. And the results are positive. More students are passing the class and are using these newly acquired critical thinking skills in other classes.

“This initiative has been highly collaborative and based off of a documented retention need the Nursing Department identified. They examined their results and data carefully, developed predictive measures to identify at-risk students, created a supplemental component that was added to the course, worked together in and out of the classroom, and then broadly applied their results to benefit every future nursing student. The initiative has led to further similar innovations that will be utilized to help build health care programming opportunities for all at-risk and underrepresented students,” said the nominator.

“It’s a good program and is bringing attrition rates down. I’m glad everyone is getting recognition for all the work. It’s nice to get recognized, even though we’d do it anyway, for all that work everybody put it,” Murphy said. “I think Moraine Valley gives us so many resources, and if you use them, you get amazing results. I’m just happy to be part of the team.”