Kenny Thompson, Sarah Dadamo, and Caleb Lesch -
Inspired, motivated, encouraged, and dedicated to
helping others are all attributes that describe Kenny Thompson, Sarah
Dadamo, and Caleb Lesch. These characteristics are appropriate for each
as they pursue their dream of becoming a nurse in the College of Nursing
Honors-in-Discipline (HID) program at ETSU. Their desire for a
challenging, hands-on, research-orientated academic experience led them
to the Nursing HID program.
They agreed that this program truly enriched their journey towards the
goal of becoming health-care professionals.
As HID students, Kenny, Sarah, and Caleb have been involved in a different type of educational experience when compared to the typical undergraduate student. The HID programs are college or departmental honors programs designed by the faculty and administered by coordinators in each specific discipline as well as the HID Director in the Honors College (Ms. Marcia Songer). With the assistance of Dr. Joy Wachs (College of Nursing HID Coordinator), Kenny, Sarah, and Caleb participated in academically-enhanced nursing courses, seminars, and a research experience culminating in a Senior Honors Thesis directed by a Nursing faculty member. All of these opportunities were designed to serve as foundations to better prepare students for success in their careers and in furthering their education in a graduate nursing program.
Kenny, Sarah, and Caleb reported that they learned about the HID program both at orientation and during their first semester in the nursing program. Each student was drawn to the program for similar reasons---all are interested in continuing their education at the graduate level and knew that participating in the Nursing HID program would provide special experiences needed to distinguish their undergraduate careers. Completing an Honors program not only helps them stand out, but provides a foundation of skills that will help them be successful in graduate school. With respect to classes, Sarah states that the Honors Enriched classes always incorporated supplementary research assignments that improved the curriculum and increased her knowledge of specific topics and procedures she otherwise would not have experienced. Kenny adds that the research assignments not only increased his knowledge in the field, but also served to improve his abilities to analyze and critically evaluate research.
Each student was required to do a Senior Honors Thesis describing results of research projects completed with the mentorship of a Nursing faculty member. Caleb interviewed senior nursing students about their perceptions of effective teaching methods in the classroom, under mentorship of Dr. Linda Garrett. Sarah worked with Dr. Judy McCook to examine the perceived satisfaction of nurse mid-wives in the South Eastern Appalachian area. With the help of Daren Vertain, RN, Kenny explored the sexual identity associated with a career in Nursing.
Kenny, Sarah, and Caleb each affirmed that their unique research and thesis experiences provided great advantages gained as a result of participating in the College of Nursing HID program. “Already being exposed to analyzing and conducting research and writing a thesis will help me in the future as I plan to pursue a Master’s Degree and eventually a PhD in Nursing,” said Sarah. “I plan to enroll in graduate school and I know the research experience will look good on my transcript when I apply,” said Caleb. Kenny said, “The idea of doing a thesis scared me at first, but after I started working on it I knew it was going to help me out when I go to graduate school.”
The financial assistance offered by HID programs obviously was also an attractive aspect of the program for all of the students. The Honors College offers a wide range of scholarships packages for students enrolled in the HID programs. “I am an out-of-state student from California and I learned that, if selected for the HID program, my out-of-state tuition would be waived,” said Sarah. Kenny and Caleb offered similar responses in that the financial assistance was a great benefit of the HID program and helped alleviate the pressures associated with paying tuition and fees.
Kenny, Sarah, and Caleb each have taken a variety of experiences away from the College of Nursing HID program. Sarah reports that she has learned how to analyze evidence-based research, which is an important skill to have in the nursing profession. Kenny agrees that the research skills he developed are beneficial, but he also says he has learned better time-management and organizational skills during his academic program. Caleb echoes the significance of the research skills, but adds that the whole experience of being an HID student has been beneficial and memorable to him.
Each student offered some advice to potential College of Nursing HID students. “Don’t join just for the free tuition. It’s a fairly difficult program, and requires a lot of work,” says Caleb, concluding by stressing, “It’s a very rewarding experience.” Sarah advises that prospective students need to focus on their grades and maintain a good GPA, adding that “The HID program is challenging, but is a good experience that not a lot of nursing students that graduate from ETSU have. I feel like the HID program has helped me look at nursing in a different way because even when I am in actual practice I will know how to analyze evidence-based nursing research and know where to look to see if something has worked.”
Kenny provides advice on the thesis experience, emphasizing, “Don’t be scared of it. A thesis comes in blocks so it wasn’t that difficult because I worked on it a little at a time.” He also adds, “Research does make a difference and there is the potential that a future nursing HID scholar could do a thesis that would change healthcare.”
Following graduation, Sarah plans to stay in the area and pursue a career in the obstetrics field. She is planning to return to school to obtain a Master’s degree and eventually a PhD in Nursing. She also says, “I may become a mid-wife and face the challenges that I found in my research.” Kenny plans to begin his nursing career following graduation, but has future plans, sharing that “After taking a semester off, I plan to go back to school part-time in hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner.” After graduation, Caleb plans to work a few years as a nurse and eventually return to school to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).