Spring 2017 Teaching It Forward

Carlow nursing students excel, thanks to peer tutors and innovative alumni support.

In the late 1960s Georgia Morello Decker, MS, BSN, ANP-BC, CN, FAAN ’68 was new to nursing (she’d just changed her major from music). So, she consulted a tutor. 

Today, Decker is a nurse practitioner and certified nutritionist in Albany, N.Y., where she founded her own private nursing practice, Integrative Care. But she still remembers the impact tutoring had upon her academic success. 

“Working with a tutor changed everything for me,” recalls Decker. “Her patience and understanding of my needs were key to laying the foundation for developing my academic and professional confidence, insights, and goals.”

The experience was so positive that, in 2010, she created the Georgia Morello Decker Future Nurse Educator (FNE) Scholarship program, operated out of Carlow’s Center for Academic Achievement (CAA). Decker says that supporting the program is a privilege and honor.

Each year, a group of Future Nurse Educators (FNEs) is chosen via a selective application and interview process. As part of ongoing training in the CAA’s Tutor Training Program, certified by the College Reading and Learning Association, FNEs are available as tutors for introductory and upper-level nursing courses. 

In addition to helping students review course content and facilitating exam-review study groups, FNEs work with a CAA learning and study strategies specialist to help students learn skills like test preparation, note-taking, usage of study technology applications, reading comprehension, and test anxiety reduction.

“One of the most crucial responsibilities of a registered nurse is to be a patient educator,” says junior Devan Stanko. “My FNE position has allowed me to practice my teaching skills and has taught me how to tailor my teaching strategies to individual students.”

“Some students just seem to have a gift of being able to explain something in a way that others can understand it,” says Janice Nash, DNP, RN, director of Carlow’s undergraduate nursing program.

“It may be the same content that was in the textbook or presented in class, but when the tutor explains it, students may understand it for the first time,” adds Nash.

“I have seen so many students grow,” says Alexis Eck, a junior nursing major from Kittanning, Pa. “This experience has truly inspired me to pursue a profession as a teaching nurse.”

Sophomore nursing student Andrea Bartolotta says being able to work with her FNE, junior Andrea Reuther, is a “big stress reliever.”

“It’s nice to work with someone who knows where you are coming from,” says Bartolotta. “These FNEs take a lot of the pressure off. They’ve had the same classes and written the same papers. They are a great resource.”

“I am so grateful for Georgia Decker and this amazing program,” says Reuther. “This program has led me to discover a love for teaching and allowed me to help people in ways I had never imagined.”

By Alison Juram D'Addieco and Bridget Ponte