Judy Lathen has represented the SCCC Nursing Program well, and earned a NISOD Excellence Award in 2022. The medal might be a new addition to her certificates and honors, but the performance that earned it goes back for years. Beginning in her second year teaching in 2015, Lathen demonstrated leadership and servanthood, said nursing program director Susan Ingland.
“When the program lost a nursing faculty member at the very beginning of school due to an unplanned resignation, Judy stepped up,” recalled Ingland.
“She was not hired to teach in that role, or that schedule slot, and she not only taught in that one but completed instructional duties in the one she was hired to teach in as well.”
Ingland went on to describe Lathen’s standard mode of operation: “She has worked very long and hard hours with the nursing students during the pandemic. She has adjusted the course content to remote and in person learning. She has led by example in the clinical setting as she continues to work part-time as a House Coordinator and in the Emergency Room in the hospital setting. She had not once ever declined any teaching assignment that was asked of her to teach.”
When Ingland encountered her own set of unexpected circumstances, Lathen stepped in once more.
“During my absence last year, she stepped in and assisted in teaching the course that I normally teach. She is the quiet one who always is willing to take on more. She has also taken on IV Therapy which is an additional course.
“She does it because she loves the students and the opportunity to teach and to see them grow,” Ingland said.
Lathen also applied that desire to the SCCC nursing program itself, which went through a major restructuring process over the past two years. In part because of pandemic disruptions and the ever-changing nature of healthcare, student pass rates for the nursing exam dipped. In response, Lathen and her fellow instructors changed up and expanded instruction methods.
During the 2021 spring semester during the week of finals, Ingland said, “Judy went above and beyond for the level II nursing students. She worked with them after hours and.held aftemoon study sessions to ensure that they understood the content. She wanted everyone to not only learn but to be able to apply the information in situations that would impact patient care.”
The study sessions were the icing on the cake for Lathen’s students. For the past several years, she devoted significant time to flipping her classroom.
This process involves a lot of preparation and work for the instructor, Ingland noted.
“She delivers the lecture content utilizing Canvas in a voiced over power point and then when the nursing students come to class they are able to apply the information in the classroom/simulation setting,” said Ingland. “She provided her cardiovascular lecture utilizing this teaching technique and it was an outstanding experience for the students. They worked on cardiac rhythms in the classroom while completing case studies and then actually worked in the simulation lab. Judy arranged that they approach patient care like a normal clinical day with 3 different patients (manikans in the simulator lab).”
During the class session, one of the artificial “patients” experienced a heart attack and coded. The students were then able to learn and utilize the crash cart, pass the medications, complete CPR while in the simulation. While it was a simulated experience, it provided a safe learning environment where the students could learn from it.
“They very much experienced the anxiety that a stressful situation such as that creates, and they learned how to work through the emergency situation,” Ingland said, adding that the real-life feel of the class session packed a greater punch than lecture and notes. “Judy also taught the students active cardiac rhythms in the classroom while using the simulation monitors so the students could see them in real time and gain understanding of the different patient presentations with the associated cardiac rhythms.”
Lathen came to SCCC as a well-established professional, one that demonstrated leadership, said Ingland.
“She has worked as a director of nursing, and she served as a flight nurse for 14-plus years. She brings to the world of education much more knowledge than what a textbook can teach, and that is experience. She can teach the content with knowledge; however, she can teach from firsthand experience of having seen or performed patient care,” she said.
Making the choice to come to education is not all about the income. In the nursing field, a nurse can make so much more financially, especially during the pandemic. Yet, according to Ingland, “the rewards are demonstrated every day as you watch Judy teach and work with the students. I know that for her, the rewards are seeing students upon graduation, working with patients, making a difference. Seeing the nursing students grow and become our colleagues makes the role of an educator worth the effort. Knowing that what you teach makes such a difference in the lives of so many people is far more than any monetary reward.”