Meet the Kaplan Nursing Experts

by Kaplan Nursing | July 14, 2022

The Kaplan Team is often cited as the reason why schools stay with Kaplan, year after year. At Kaplan, there’s an expert at the heart of everything we do, from leading a class to developing innovative tools to help your students achieve their career goals. We stand behind our motto, “For nurses, by nurses.” In this “Meet the Kaplan Nursing Experts” blog, we introduce you to Kaplan’s extensive network of faculty, nursing, and educational experts and delve into their diverse areas of expertise so that you can learn even more about your Kaplan team. 

Laura McDonald, MSN, RN, Content Developer

Laura McDonald has been a nurse for 20 years. Her career experience has been in acute care oncology, medical-surgical nursing, surgical nursing, nursing education, and leadership. In the education and leadership roles, Laura's expertise includes concept-based curriculum development, curriculum revision, didactic and clinical instruction, simulation development and incorporation, program coordination, student advising, meeting and evaluating student/program outcomes, and program evaluation.

ABOUT

I began my nursing career as an LPN and worked in acute care. I later completed my ADN and worked in the surgical setting. While working in surgery, I completed my BSN. This allowed me to also work as an adjunct clinical instructor at a community college to get insight into how I might like that area of nursing. I thoroughly enjoyed all areas of nursing education and realized that’s where I wanted to venture next! I decided to start my MSN-Nurse Educator degree and was offered a full-time teaching position at the community college where I had been an adjunct for two years. In that position, I instructed didactic and clinical in first and second year courses. I became the program coordinator several years later, overseeing our traditional and LPN-RN bridge programs in addition to instruction responsibilities. 

Outside of work, I have been married for almost 26 years. We have four children, one son-in-law, and our first grandbaby is due in the next few weeks! I am also a dog lover to my Goldendoodle, Sadie, and my Mini Aussie, Maggie. I love the beach, kayaking, hiking, and spending time with my family.     

I began working for Kaplan in April 2022. I have followed Kaplan’s products over the years (including using their review course prior to taking the NCLEX-RN myself) and really like the delivery of instruction and content availability for students. The company recognizes the importance of adequately preparing students for the NCLEX and being successful on the exam. The entire team works exceptionally hard to ensure quality products are created with the student’s best interests in mind. I have always been a huge student advocate, and this is something Kaplan keeps front and center as well!

Who or what experience inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing/Medical Education?  

I had a close family member with a serious health condition. Seeing the nurses acting as caregivers for that family member is what made me initially decide to pursue a career in nursing. As I completed my degrees, I had several key nursing instructors who made me think that I may want to become an instructor at some point. After having the opportunity to be a clinical adjunct instructor, I knew I wanted to experience the full spectrum of nursing education. It was a very rewarding experience, and I am so thankful for all of the opportunities and experiences gained as a nurse educator.

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

In your opinion, how can institutions best support students preparing for their exams?

Institutions can best support students by offering quality educational opportunities and materials with unlimited resources to practice NCLEX-style content. This gives students the chance to see multiple question types on different platforms and receive feedback to understand the content. Ultimately, these opportunities and resources will help prepare students for the NCLEX and provide further learning as they embark on their nursing careers.

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

There seem to be many things that set Kaplan apart in the industry. One of the biggest things is that the teachers, content developers, and managers are highly dedicated to the success of their students. There is so much work done behind the scenes to ensure student success. The cross-functional collaboration to ensure the best products are available for students is very evident. The additional resources, opportunities for continued learning, and practice for NCLEX success all revolve around setting the student up to succeed.  

LOOKING AHEAD

Which current or future education/test prep innovations do you wish you’d had access to when you were in university?

A current test prep innovation I wish I had when I was in school is the use of app-based and online resources. Students today have resources at their fingertips -- electronically on their phones and computers -- that are so easily accessible for studying anywhere! It also presents an opportunity for students to practice questions in the same electronic format in which they will take the NCLEX exam. I feel like this would have been a huge benefit!

ADVICE

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a teacher?

One thing I remember a nursing instructor saying in preparation for clinicals was, “Nurse your patients, not your machines!” This piece of advice was given with the increased use of so many electronic monitoring devices in the healthcare setting at the time. This was a big change in many areas from manual equipment previously used. With these changes came the learning curve for nurses, and focus was often placed on those machines. Presenting symptoms from the patient were overlooked at times because everyone was so focused on the machines and the information they provided. This nursing instructor wanted us to be fully aware that machines make errors and can give misleading or incorrect results; therefore, she wanted to be sure we also remembered that our patients needed our eyes on them for a full assessment. This is a piece of advice I, too, shared with my nursing students.

Lori Cook, MSN, RN, DNP, RN

Lori Cook has been in nursing for 20 years. She joined Kaplan in April 2022 and brings her expertise in nursing, medical surgery, neurology, oncology, ICU, ambulatory care setting, and health care administration to the team.

ABOUT

I am a content and curriculum manager at Kaplan and new to the team. I have been in nursing for 20 years in Texas. I have worked in many areas including medical-surgical, ICU, neurosurgery, neurology, oncology, and health care administration. I continued to stay current by going back to the bedside during COVID.

I spent 12 years teaching at a community college as well as teaching an RN to BSN program online. I was a clinical coordinator, classroom instructor, and clinical educator. I went back to school in 2020 to receive my doctorate in education. I did research on clinical judgment and critical thinking to help nursing students understand the concepts and how to work on achieving those types of tools in nursing programs.

What is your particular area of expertise?

I'm an expert on: nursing, medical surgery, neurology, oncology, ICU, ambulatory care setting, and health care administration.

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why? 

My grandmother who is deceased. I think our grandparents have so much wisdom and love us unconditionally. My grandmother was a great woman who brought joy and happiness to my life. I would like to talk to her and catch her up on all I did and tell her that I am who I am because of her prayers.

What is the most important thing that your colleagues should know about you?  

Nursing is a second career for me. My husband and I both have careers in broadcasting. I was a producer and did many TV broadcast projects.

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan?

I started at Kaplan on April 4, 2022.

What is the most pressing issue facing your institutional partners today and how can Kaplan help solve those problems? 

As an educator at a community college, there is a need for resources for nursing students and faculty at all levels. Outdated materials and faculty that have been away from the bedside need to have tools that help them become more current. Kaplan can help by designing tests and study guides to improve student outcomes.

What do you think is the most important innovation in the history of medicine?

Research and evidence-based practice are critical for nurses because they guide our profession and make us who we are as nurses.

Who or what experience inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing/Medical Education?

My family is Amish and they had very little healthcare so I decided to become a nurse to help them get the medical treatment they needed.

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

Why is it so important for institutions to prepare students to “think like a doctor/nurse?”

It is about critical thinking and clinical judgment. Students are unprepared to go into the workplace and often times the lack of those skills will discourage a new graduate nurse from staying in the profession. We need tools to make them successful in all areas of nursing.

What are your thoughts on the value of standardized tests for nurses/doctors?

I believe standardized tests are essential in helping us look at the curriculum and what is being taught to students. It gives us a baseline to see the areas of strengths and weaknesses.

How has your unique background prepared you for success in your field?

I believe education is important to my success. Education brings you confidence and a sense of pride for the profession. It allows you to grow and bring knowledge to others. Working in many areas along with receiving a doctorate in education has helped prepare me for where I am today.

In your opinion, how can institutions best support students preparing for their exams?

Institutions can best support students by offering mindful meditation and stress relief activities because we know that the stress of nursing school is tremendous. I also think we need to provide them with educators that are current and understand the trends, discipline, and confidence it takes to be successful. Providing more resources will also set students up for success in the classroom and the workplace.

Do you have a particularly notable student success story to share?

I had a Hispanic student who was the only person in his family who received a degree from college. He struggled with the stress of nursing school and also with his grades. He didn’t give his all and at times wanted to give up. One day I sent him to the emergency room to help and a Hispanic family came in with their loved one in cardiac arrest. This student ended up helping give CPR and later got to talk with the family in Spanish. Through this experience, he saw a need in healthcare for bilingual communication and it changed his life. He graduated and now works in a Dallas hospital emergency room.

LOOKING AHEAD

What do you think the future of test prep will look like?

I think test prep will be more important in the future because students have changed and many schools are going online. Students today come from a different generation so their learning style has evolved. Test prep offers a way to enhance their performance and helps educators and college programs find a way to improve retention and academic performance.

What will the future of education be like for students and faculty?

I think we will see changes in the future, especially with government financing for colleges and the different types of students coming into colleges. I believe faculty will spend more time teaching online and offer fewer in-person classes. Lectures will be online, and keeping students engaged will be a challenge, so teaching will become very creative.

What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?  

Nursing changes at the legislative level. We as nurses have to get involved to make changes to the expectations of nursing at the bedside. So many nurses leave the bedside and we need to find way to make improvements. The nursing profession is very large; we have a voice and need to be heard.

Which current or future education/test prep innovations do you wish you’d had access to when you were in university?

Practice tests would have been helpful.

ADVICE

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a teacher? 

Go to a big hospital and learn everything you need to and continue your education.

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

A life is not important except in the impact it has on others.

Christi Doherty, DNP, MSN, RNC-OB, CNE, CHSE, CDP, Director, Nursing Research

Dr. Doherty is a skilled nursing researcher with published works on clinical judgment, communication, pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing, research design, and statistics. She was a professor of nursing at both the prelicensure and doctorate level. An experienced clinical nurse at the bedside for over 20 years and more recently a virtual simulation content designer, Dr. Doherty uses her vast experience to enhance nursing education at Kaplan.

ABOUT

I was born in Alabama and raised in Texas by a strong, hardworking, single mother. She taught me the importance of setting a goal, working hard to achieve it, and persevering when times get tough. I grew up wanting to be a lawyer to defend the innocent and bring justice to those who wrong others. I never thought about nursing. No one in my family worked in health care, so I had no experience with the field outside the occasional trip to the family doctor for immunizations or minor illnesses….all that changed. 

As a young, married, college student I experienced preterm pregnancy complications. I was hospitalized, given medications that made me very sick and terrified for my unborn baby. I was on bed rest for six weeks. My family was very supportive, but the nurses made the most significant difference. They answered all my questions, empathized with my fears, and did so many things that showed me they truly cared for my baby and me. It has a happy ending; my baby was healthy, my family was whole again, and I had an entirely new outlook on how to make a difference in the lives of others. 

I started nursing school when my daughter was four months old. I graduated with my Associate degree and went to work in a Labor & Delivery unit at a local hospital. I feel blessed to have shared the experience of childbirth with so many families for sixteen years. I went on to work in many other areas, including the Emergency Department. Still, I will never forget the joy of L&D. I slowly earned my BSN and MSN from Regis University, then my DNP from American Sentinel University. I moved into teaching, first for pre-licensure students, then at the DNP level. I loved guiding Master's prepared nurses in their DNP journey. Before joining Kaplan, I ventured into the virtual simulation world and led content development.    

What is your particular area of expertise?

I am an expert in nursing research, focusing on clinical judgment, communication, curriculum design, simulation, pharmacology, and statistics. Also, I am a published author, professor of nursing, experienced clinical nurse, and virtual simulation content designer. Forensics and true crime stories are my secret passions because I am fascinated with discovering evidence and the inner workings of the human mind.

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

Mary Breckinridge. She died before I was born but was instrumental in providing nursing care in rural areas in America and developing the role of nurse midwives. Her two young children died at very young ages. The losses could have been the catalyst for her becoming a nurse and making such a valuable contribution to the nursing profession.

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan and what drew you to your current role?

I joined the Kaplan team in April 2021. I was drawn to the Nursing Research position because it was a way to blend my passion for research with my clinical experience, undergraduate and graduate teaching expertise, and simulation knowledge. Plus, the chance to work with all the experts at Kaplan was too great of an opportunity to pass up!

Do you have a particularly notable student success story to share?

A variety of students choose nursing as a career. Many are "nontraditional students," meaning they have had varied life experiences before choosing nursing as a career. Often they enter nursing school with spouses, children, or parents needing care. They have a wide range of work experience, differing socioeconomic statuses, and cultural differences. But despite the differences, when they get their nursing license, they belong to a new family, all devoted to optimal patient outcomes and advancement of nursing. All are success stories! 

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue facing your institutional partners today?

A pressing issue in the education of new nurses is providing them with the tools they need to succeed. Kaplan test prep, i-Human Patients simulations, resources for professionals, and much more demonstrate how Kaplan invests time, money, and energy into providing the best products to help nursing students achieve their goals. 

What will the future of education be like for students and faculty?

I see the future of education as primarily online and filled with technology. Nursing, in particular, will grow in the use of simulation (high fidelity and virtual experiences), thus expanding patient encounters for nursing students. With the globalization of healthcare, nursing faculty will have more opportunities to share experiences and, most importantly, learn from other faculty, expanding our abilities to provide dynamic, immersive teaching and learning experiences. 

ADVICE

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." 

– Gandhi

It is so important to live in the moment, appreciate the time with family and friends, but continue to learn and grow personally and professionally. Never stop learning!

And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Nurses are great at asking questions. When you ask questions, trying to find better ways of doing something―you are doing research. Nursing research will continue to be vital to our profession. Research is the foundation of evidence-based practice for nurses, whether at the bedside, in the classroom, or the Board room.

See more posts by Christi Doherty, DNP, MSN, RNC-OB, CNE, CHSE, CDP, Director, Nursing Research

Karen Lilyquist, PhD, APRN, CNP, PMHNP-BC, NCLEX Instructor and Case Writer for i-Human Patients by Kaplan

I wear multiple hats: besides working for Kaplan, I work as a FNP at a dual diagnosis (CD-MI) treatment center, a prescriber of psychiatric medications, and teach nursing at a community college. There is a method to my madness: all my roles involve teaching, science, and caring for others. My career choices allow me to help others, in that moment, be the best that they can be.

ABOUT

I was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, and after years living elsewhere I am back home in Duluth. Growing up, I went to parochial and private schools, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nursing from the College of St. Scholastica. It was then that I started working for Kaplan. I acquired a Masters degree in Counseling, a PhD in Psychology, and a Masters of Nursing Science degree and settling into a career as a Nurse Practitioner, both in Family Health and Psych-Mental Health. This MSN also opened doors to teach undergraduate nursing students at a local community college. I have been with Kaplan for 27 years 

I wear multiple hats: besides working for Kaplan, I work as a FNP at a dual diagnosis (CD-MI) treatment center, a prescriber of psychiatric medications, and teach nursing at a community college. There is a method to my madness: all my roles involve teaching, science, and caring for others. My career choices allow me to help others, in that moment, be the best that they can be.

What is your particular area of expertise?

NCLEX prep, logically deciphering test questions, and losing (but ultimately finding) most everything. 

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

I would spend the evening with my dad. He died almost four years ago and I miss him every day. His death came much sooner than I anticipated and while I thought I was ready, I surely was not. He had a kind soul. He had sage advice. He had a logical mind, yet recognized my struggles and stayed by my side, without question. I remember snippets of growing up: him reading me the comics, us playing catch in the yard and hiking the trails of Duluth. I remember him helping me with algebra problems as a high school freshman and reviewing my dissertation. I remember being at his retirement party and him at my graduations. I remember travels and stories of places around the world. I remember spending time with him in his last days, just sitting and being present.  

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I have been with Kaplan for 27 years, starting with the local center after taking a NCLEX Prep course. Initially, I worked in the office (had to “check out” the material for use at the centers and they came to the center for tutoring) and initially taught pre-college classes, and then NCLEX, GRE, and LSAT. As Kaplan moved online, so did I. I loved the online platform and have found my home there. I moved from the classroom to marketing, doing Facebook Live and YouTube events, taking part in our Kaplan NCLEX Prepcasts, and at one time I was the go to person for new NCLEX instructors. I continue to teach NCLEX prep and channel sessions and write cases for i-Human Patients for Kaplan and love every minute. Mark Twain said: “find a job that you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life” - this is true of my work with Kaplan.

I find it ideal to balance practice with teaching, to bring forward examples of why an assessment is needed or why the student would select a given implementation. We teach a decision tree (a logical thought process) to use when answering test questions - that logic is applicable not only to test questions, but the real world. It’s fun to demonstrate that to students.  

I love the work with Kaplan - to work with students and see the “ah ha” moment; sharing my knowledge, experience, and love for test questions; knowing that our work at Kaplan helps students achieve their dreams provide the motivation each day. 

Our teachers set Kaplan apart in the industry. We bring a human element to the classroom. We have been in our student’s shoes, having taken the NCLEX and felt the anxiety and the angst, the success and failures. Our instructors teach for Kaplan because we believe in our product and more, we believe in our students. We are here to support our students every step of the way to success.

Why is it so important for institutions to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

The needed skill is the ability to think critically. 

The profession of nursing often attracts those that have a knack for science and have a desire to help others. Nursing education builds on a foundation of math, science, biology, and physiology, and prepares students to meet the unique needs of diverse patients. We teach practical skills: start an IV, dress an open wound. Remembering facts and understanding physiology is not enough to provide safe and effective care. Nurses need to think clearly and critically to make sound, logical, and safe decisions.  

To think like a nurse - to use the nursing process - is to identify a concern, gather the needed information, determine the possible solutions, select the safest and most effective action, and then evaluate the outcome. Students and nurses need to bring that thinking process into everyday life. Content knowledge may help  with one question, with one patient; critical thinking is a transferable skill and will help with all situations. 

In your opinion, how can institutions best support students preparing for their exams?

In my opinion, as nurse educators we need to build on the concepts of science and physiology, of health and wellness and disease process. We need to teach the concept of critical thinking and encourage our students to think about application of knowledge, not simply memorization. We need to engage students in their learning, to incorporate nursing judgment and reflect on the why behind actions.

As for test day preparation - we need to start that process on day one of nursing school. Computerized exams with a lock down browser, quiet environment, no beverage or snacks is what students will experience. We can lessen test day anxiety, but making it a part of every day testing.

Which current test prep innovations do you wish you’d had access when you were preparing for your board exams?

I wish I had access to the current technologies. The virtual simulations are an amazing medium for learning - the need for problem solving, having options and needing to select the safe, effective action in a timely manner, getting real time feedback as the “patient” improves or declines. Feeling the anxiety or dread as you experience the outcome. This provides the opportunity to learn from our mistakes or feel confident in our decisions, and then discuss it with others who have engaged in the same experience.

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

Two things: 

(1.) Take time to remediate each question:

Review the needed content and determine the thinking strategy needed for that particular question. Remediation is where the learning takes place. 

(2.) Develop a support system (in nursing school, while preparing for NCLEX, ast your first job):

Find those individuals that make you laugh, that support your values, that you can turn to when you have a question. These individuals will be a part of your life for years!  

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

“How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?”  

~ Fred Rogers

See more posts by Karen Lilyquist, PhD, APRN, CNP, PMHNP-BC, NCLEX Instructor, Case Writer for i-Human Patients by Kaplan

Anita Roy Desai MD, FAAP, Executive Director of Patient Simulation, i-Human Patients by Kaplan

I value the idea of creating an experience.  Having worked with several healthcare consultancy firms, I learned how small things can have big effects.  Creating patient journeys to understand what patients see, hear, smell, touch, feel from the moment they set foot on hospital grounds to the moment they exit provided invaluable feedback.   This in turn showed the communities we served how we valued them and their input.  I hope to integrate this same concept when designing the i-Human Patients experience―from the moment of landing on the webpage, to every client encounter, to using the product.  The i-Human Patients team is committed to putting the clients first, hearing their input, and improving continuously.

ABOUT

Having completed my 9th week at Kaplan, I could not be happier or more excited with having pivoted my career.  I found the perfect opportunity to meld my love of teaching with the art of dynamic education, simulation, and experience optimization.  The i-Human Patients by Kaplan Team is phenomenal to work with and I am excited to bring my experiences of being a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician, directing simulation series, and working with healthcare consultancy firms to the team. 

What are your particular areas of expertise?

Pediatrics, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Medical Education, Dynamic Learning, Simulation, Optimizing User Experience, and Mastering my Chopped skills using my pantry and fridge.

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

~Believe in the Beauty of your Dreams~

EXPERIENCE IN MEDICAL EDUCATION

How has your unique background prepared you for success in your field?

I value the idea of creating an experience.  Having worked with several healthcare consultancy firms, I learned how small things can have big effects.  Creating patient journeys to understand what patients see, hear, smell, touch, feel from the moment they set foot on hospital grounds to the moment they exit provided invaluable feedback.   This in turn showed the communities we served how we valued them and their input. 

I hope to integrate this same concept when designing the i-Human Patients experience―from the moment of landing on the webpage, to every client encounter, to using the product.  The i-Human Patients team is committed to putting the clients first, hearing their input, and improving continuously.

What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?

There is nothing more paramount than the ability to have critical analysis reasoning skills along with conducting a solid history and physical. It is not just about making the correct diagnosis with new technologies and treating with advanced therapies, it is actually a process that takes skill, practice, and expertise.  Skipping this essential step leads to subpar knowledge and care for patients.  I am excited that i-Human Patients is really stepping up the game to holding clinicians accountable for this crucial step.  

What innovations at Kaplan are you most excited about?

I am amazed at how the collaborative efforts of the i-Human Patients team makes this an ever evolving, customizable, and adaptable product.  The amount of time, energy, and attention dedicated to student learning as well as to faculty mentoring is remarkable.  I am proud to be a part of this team and am eager to be a part of the innovative changes ahead.

What will the future of education be like for students and faculty? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the need for adaptability and innovation to the forefront in education.  Everyone has been faced with how to use technology and integrate it into their curriculum.  Whether it has been used to engage students online or to meet the clinical hours nurses need, virtual simulation has found a way to make an impact.  This has set the stage for a new way of educating, and we have only begun.

What do you think is the most important innovation in the history of medicine?

The value of teamwork.

See more posts by Anita Roy Desai MD, FAAP, Executive Director of Patient Simulation, i-Human Patients

Ryan Goble, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, Curriculum Specialist

As a Senior Content & Curriculum Manager, Ryan strives to ensure Kaplan’s content remains up to date and relevant for entry-level nurses. Ryan also collaborates with other Kaplan nurse educators and the broader Kaplan team at large (e.g., user experience designers, user interface designers, technology specialists) to ensure products meet the needs of Kaplan students and institutional partners. Ryan has years of clinical experience as a staff nurse, charge nurse, and nurse coordinator in the emergency department. He also has years of experience in helping RN and PN students be successful on the NCLEX®. His areas of interest include item writing, NCLEX® success, and professional development.

ABOUT

I am a lifelong Kentuckian who was born and raised in eastern Kentucky. Admittedly, I am not one of those people who “always knew I wanted to be a nurse.” In high school, I initially thought about a career in pharmacy or dentistry, but that would have required me to move hours away from home. So, I thought, “Let’s see what the community college has to offer.” In health sciences, I had the following options: dental hygiene, respiratory therapy, or nursing. Because I had heard that nursing was a very diverse field, my 19-year-old self dove in head first, and I am glad I did! Unlike many professions, nursing is a very diverse field that allows me to personally and professionally grow in a wide range of areas.

Fresh out of nursing school, I began working night shift in a busy, high-acuity emergency department. Talk about a learning curve! After five years of bedside nursing under my belt, I completed a BSN degree in 2012 from Indiana Wesleyan University and an MSN degree in 2013 from Western Governors University. Currently, I am enrolled in a DNP program with an expected graduation date of 2021. Throughout my nursing career, I have been able to positively impact patients’ lives, save lives, and feel like what I am doing is important. I am also extremely proud to be a member of the “most trusted profession.”

What is your particular area of expertise?

NCLEX prep (RN & PN), item writing/content development, emergency department nursing, and “The Andy Griffith Show” trivia. (Yes, the show from the 1960s. I grew up watching the show with my parents and grandparents, and watching the show now brings back great childhood memories.)

What is the most important thing that your colleagues should know about you?

The most important thing that you should know about me is that I am an animal lover. My animals—Hank, Cooper, and Kaylee—provide me with unconditional love, always brighten my day, and help reassure me that everything will be OK. 

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

In your opinion, how can institutions best support students preparing for their exams?

Content is important, as it is the foundation for NCLEX success. However, knowing only content does not guarantee a nursing license. In addition to content, institutions must provide learning opportunities that stimulate critical thinking. In part, this can be achieved by integrating case studies into the curriculum. As our population ages, new graduate nurses must be prepared to provide care for clients who have complex medical conditions and multiple comorbidities. 

Additionally, mastering the Test Day experience is crucial and its importance cannot be underestimated. Whenever possible, students need to emulate the Test Day experience (e.g., no multitasking, no food, no drinks, no internet browsing when taking exams). Preparing in this fashion will make the actual Test Day feel less intimidating.

Which current or future education/test prep innovations do you wish you’d had access to when you were in university?

I wish I had access to virtual simulations when I was in nursing school. My first exposure to virtual simulations came when I was recertifying for Advanced Cardiac Life Support. For me, it was a much better, much more effective learning experience because I got to see the outcomes of my actions in real-time. (Oops, shouldn’t have given that medication! Oops, didn’t resume CPR quickly enough!) 

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

Before the ink had even dried on my MSN degree, I applied to teach Kaplan’s NCLEX review course. Why? Because I know Kaplan’s products work. How did I know this? Because, I was unsuccessful at my first NCLEX attempt. I took all 265 questions—yes, all 265! After my unsuccessful attempt, I enrolled in Kaplan, did what the Kaplan experts told me to do, re-tested 3 months later, and passed after answering 75 questions!

In 2013, I began teaching the NCLEX review course, and in 2015, I auditioned to start writing NCLEX-style questions for Kaplan. Since 2018, I have worked full time for Kaplan as a curriculum specialist. My current role allows me to review content for clinical accuracy, develop new products, and collaborate with and learn from our talented nursing faculty.

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

There are many things that set Kaplan apart from our competitors, but the number one thing is our teachers. In addition to our robust program that contains thousands of practice questions, Kaplan has top-notch, qualified, dedicated nursing instructors. Even after the review course is over, students still have access to Kaplan instructors via Kaplan’s NCLEX Expert Chat and Kaplan’s Nursing Channel, which hosts 50-minute live reviews on a variety of topics that range from pharmacology to cardiology to preparing for Test Day.

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

If I could offer one piece of advice for students who are preparing for NCLEX, it would be to be good to yourself. Praise yourself for what you know and what you do right. The NCLEX will feel hard for both higher-ability and lower-ability candidates, so set realistic expectations and do not belittle yourself or talk down to yourself. Doing so is self-destructive and will slowly infect your career and personal life. Remember, preparing for the NCLEX is a marathon, not a sprint.

And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

This is powerful advice that I live by:

“You will learn more from your failures than your successes - so embrace those mistakes, as difficult as that sounds, and grow from them. When a project is successful, you're never really sure why, because so many elements come into play. However, when you fail, you always know why. That is how you learn and grow.”

- Lynda Resnick

See more posts by Ryan Goble, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, Senior Content & Curriculum Manager

Tonya Taylor, MSN, RN, MBA, Nurse Consultant

Tonya's passion is helping others achieve their best success.  She is an expert on NCLEX prep and helping students achieve their best success on NCLEX is what truly motivates her. She is also an expert in online learning from her personal experience as a virtual student as well as her time as an online educator.  Tonya is very proud to have achieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science in Nursing from University of Phoenix.  

ABOUT

I was born in Paris, Texas and raised in Mount Pleasant.  I always knew I wanted to help others; even as a young child, I wanted to help.  I graduated from the local high school and then on to Northeast Texas Community College.  I found my love of nursing and graduated as an Associate Degree Nurse.  The fact that I could help others as a nurse, WOW, for me it was a true calling.  

I have direct care experience in oncology, labor and delivery, women’s health, nursing administration, home health care, and nursing education.  As my experience has grown, so has my thirst for knowledge and more education.  Online degrees allowed me to pursue my quest while also maintaining my work and family. I am very proud to have achieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science in Nursing from University of Phoenix. 

What is your particular area of expertise?

My passion is helping others achieve their best success.  I am an expert on NCLEX prep and helping students achieve their best success on NCLEX is what truly motivates me. I’m also an expert in online learning from my personal experience as a virtual student as well as my time as an online educator.  

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

My evening with anyone, would be with Jesus Christ. And someday that will be a reality!

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

The chance to share my excitement for students’ success drew me to this position. In both faculty and director roles, nursing education has been rewarding for me, specifically as I work to empower and motivate the next generation of nurses.  As an educator, I have been able to work towards improved NCLEX scores with a multifaceted approach including a curriculum change to enhance the learning of students.  

Educating nursing students is fascinating to me, particularly as students develop into nurses for today’s challenging health care environment.  Nursing is a passion of mine, and nursing education is the fuel to excite my passion. Working in nursing education, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of integrating the Kaplan resources for students’ success. Now I have the opportunity to work with other schools to help their students meet their goals. I am new to the Kaplan nursing team as of June 1st, I am excited about the future! 

How has your unique background prepared you for success in your field? 

I have worked with numerous mentors throughout my career.  Those mentors have given me a strong foundation.  Each role that I’ve held has also prepared me for the next one. Change is the common feature. Learning from my successes and failures have helped me navigate the changes in nursing throughout my career. I believe each of these learning moments have helped me prepare for success as a nurse and as a person. 

What is the most important aspect of a partnership between Kaplan and institutions?

Communication and relationships are the most important aspects between Kaplan and institutions.  Customer service which cultivates both features is where Kaplan makes a difference!  This is also the number one thing which sets Kaplan apart!

I invest in each partner to understand their goals and challenges and guide them to solutions which best meet their needs. 

Which test prep innovations do you wish you’d had access to when you were in university?

The resources which students have today are amazing for learning. Virtual simulation would have been so great to have used in my early nursing education.  Virtual simulation is the wave of the future, I see the potential of moving to the board exams.  Exciting times ahead!

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

Prepare for nursing school and NCLEX as you would for a marathon.  It is not a sprint but a journey.  Learn throughout the journey, utilize the resources throughout the experience and prepare for board exams from day one of nursing school.  

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

I  have one scripture and two quotes that I live by:

For nothing will be impossible with God.

~ Luke 1:37

“It is not enough to put your heart and soul into something, the really important things require much more than that” 

~ Unknown

“Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it”

~ Julia Child

See more posts by Tonya Taylor, MSN, RN, MBA, Nurse Consultant

Dawn Oakley Whitfield, MSN, RN, Kaplan Nurse Consultant

Dawn has been in the nursing field for over 25 years and has experience in clinical and education settings. She received her Associate Degree in Nursing from Piedmont Community College, then went on to complete her BSN from North Carolina Central University and her MSN in Nursing Education from East Carolina University. She has served as a staff nurse in orthopedics, PACU, and radiology, as well as manager of education and infection control for a local hospital. The last 13 years of her career she has been in the education arena, first as nursing faculty, then as Director of Nursing Education in a community college setting. Encouraging, supporting and celebrating student success, mentoring and modeling excellence in patient care and implementing evidence-based practice drives her passion not only for quality patient care, but also for teaching and learning in nursing education. She is a member of the National League for Nursing and mom to her beautiful son, Andrew. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, listening to music, volunteering in the community, and spending time with family and friends.

ABOUT

I grew up just outside of Roxboro, North Carolina. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a nurse or a teacher. As a child, I remember creating worksheets for my younger cousins to complete. But in addition to a desire to teach, I have always felt a profound yearning of care and compassion when I knew someone was sick, suffering or in need of assistance. 

After High School, I attended Appalachian State University (ASU). It was during that first year at ASU that I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that nursing was my true calling. At that time, ASU did not have a nursing program; however, our local Community College was starting a new nursing program and so my journey of becoming a nurse began. And what an amazing journey it has been for me. 

I received my ADN from Piedmont Community College (PCC) and I began my career as a nurse. About 4 years later, I went on to complete my BSN from North Carolina Central University. I have served as a nurse in orthopedics, post-anesthesia care, ambulatory care, radiology, as well as manager of educator and infection control for a local hospital. It was during that experience as an educator where I was working closely with the new RNs that I gained the motivation to return to school and pursue my master’s in nursing education. 

I accepted a teaching opportunity at PCC as I also began working on my master’s in nursing education at East Carolina University. While teaching, I worked part time in the hospital as well as taught clinicals for another University. I spent 13 years of my career in the educator arena, first as a nursing faculty, then as Director of Nursing Education in a community college setting.  

What is your particular area of expertise?

I am an expert on teaching and learning, care of the post-operative client, and simply caring for others in need.

Who or what experience inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing? 

With my natural desire to help others, I was fortunate to witness my sister, Dana, who became an LPN first. I saw how rewarding it was to care for others and that helped to confirm what I wanted to do. Interestingly, when I started the new ADN program at our local community college, LPNs were allowed to join during our second year and my sister and I actually graduated the ADN program together. Many years later, while I was the Director of the program, our baby sister, Devon, also graduated from the same nursing school. 

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

This is a tough question. My grandparents were very influential in my life and I miss them dearly. If I could spend an evening with anyone, it would be Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I would say “Thank you for your amazing grace and love.” 

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan and what drew you to your current role?

In my previous role as an educator in the college setting, I worked with Kaplan Test Prep for many years as we incorporated it into our nursing program. I have always had great appreciation for all that Kaplan provides to support faculty and student success. I also admired the focus on excellent customer service from the entire team. 

In 2019, I had an opportunity to come on board with Kaplan as a Nurse Consultant full time. This role provides me an opportunity to grow professionally as I partner with the schools and provide support. I can share my expertise, help implement best practices, learn from the unique challenges each institution faces and work together to get Kaplan fully integrated into the curriculum. I love the autonomy it provides as well as how it challenges me to continue to grow professionally. I have great admiration for the teamwork, expertise, and professionalism of this elite Nursing team. 

Why is it so important for educators to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

It is imperative that students learn to critically “think like a nurse” so they can apply everything they have learned and experiences they have gained with all they are seeing and hearing at the bedside. Preparing students to “think like a nurse” will give them the tools to enter the profession as a competent nurse as they work towards becoming an expert in practice.

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?

Several things come to mind with this question. Despite the pandemic and necessity to quickly pivot to virtual learning, nurse educators are still focused on preparing for Next Gen NCLEX (NGN) and the changes it will bring. Thankfully, Kaplan’s Decision Tree has been the basis of our NCLEX prep for decades and perfectly aligns to the Clinical Judgement Measurement Model (CJMM). In addition, Kaplan’s i-Human Patients virtual simulation also mimics the NGN model. 

Other issues facing educators today are how to keep students engaged in their learning and how to maintain academic integrity during virtual learning and testing. 

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

Kaplan provides faculty and students with the total package. The new platform, Kaplan’s Decision Tree and i-Human Patients virtual simulation place students and faculty in a position to have all they need to support success and prepare for NGN. In addition, the customer service that this team provides far exceeds any other company I have worked with. Our entire team shares the same goal, which is student success. 

Do you have a particularly notable student success story to share?

I have too many to name just one! I am incredibly proud of all my students and continue to stay in touch with many of them. 

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

Remediate, remediate, remediate. It truly is the key to success! Believe with all your heart you CAN do this. Preparing for the NCLEX is like preparing for a marathon. It is all about endurance and pacing yourself. It is not about knowing everything but using what you know well and learning to manage the test. The greatest reward is when you pass. That is when the hard work as a nurse really begins. 

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

Every day provides you an opportunity to make a difference in the life of another human being. 

And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Love what you do, and everyone will witness your passion and commitment. Nursing is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have but also the most rewarding. We save lives every day and always have an opportunity to positively impact the lives of those we encounter. Nursing is a true “calling” and the opportunities are nearly endless. Commit yourself to lifelong learning because when you feel like you know it all, it will be time to change careers.  

See more posts by Dawn Oakley Whitfield, MSN, RN

Jenny Erkfitz, EdD, MSN, RN, NCLEX Instructor, Kaplan Nursing

Dr. Erkfitz has been with Kaplan Test Prep since 2013, specifically with Kaplan Live Online since 2014.  Jenny's nursing practice background is in adult ICU, PACU, endoscopy, and ER.  She has been teaching online in prelicensure and graduate programs since 2013.

ABOUT

Nursing was a second career for me. I started out in banking where I spent 10 years―six of those as a branch manager. I graduated from Indiana University’s Accelerated Second-Degree BSN program and began working in the adult ICU. As a nurse, I have loved being the Code Consult Nurse and part of the Rapid Response Team. I enjoy the science and detective work involved in being an ICU nurse. I also spent time in pre-op and PACU, and I learned that I love ER almost as much as the ICU. I came to Kaplan after completing my Masters in Nursing Education at Aspen University. Now, I teach nursing completely online at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

What is your particular area of expertise?

Adult ICU, pre-op and PACU (post-anesthesia care unit), online teaching and learning, and the collection and identification of shells from beaches around the world!

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I have been with Kaplan Test Prep since 2013.  I truly love helping students become critical thinkers and nurse “detectives.”  The next generation of nurses will be awesome!

Who or what experience inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing? 

Growing up my mom always took me to visit older family members.  Nursing homes and hospitals never scared me at all, rather they interested me! Counting stitches and changing bandages for my dad and brothers also interested me. But when my grandma was in a major farming accident the care provided in the ER and ICU was incredible to me. I knew I would love to be an ICU or ER nurse. To be honest, I love both equally!

How has your unique background prepared you for success in your field?

I feel like I was uniquely prepared by my entire hospital to be a nurse and a teacher. As I mentioned, nursing is my second career. When I left banking, I was enrolled in my last semester of pre-requisites before beginning nursing school. I really wanted to work as a unit secretary to “get my feet wet.” My manager and all the staff were wonderfully supportive! I only lasted a few months as the unit secretary on the adult ICU and step down PCU before I was moved to be a patient support worker. Many of the nurses and doctors would call me into patient rooms to see cases that would help me grow as a nurse. During the nursing program I also became a student mentor. I was given a small scholarship in return for working with the professors to assist students to achieve learning outcomes. I learned so much! I feel like everything I did really prepared me for where I am now. I benefitted firsthand from the time others took to help me understand nursing. That is something I enjoy having the opportunity to “pay forward” to my students.

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

What innovations at Kaplan are you most excited about?

I am definitely most excited about i-Human Patients by Kaplan. I love how the innovations in the online environment has enabled us to bring real nursing scenarios right to students in the safety of their own home. They can work through these scenarios, gaining the experience needed to help them become critical thinkers. There is nothing like a real hands-on case to develop detective skills!

What will the future of education be like for students and faculty? 

I think the future of education will involve even more technology. Healthcare changes constantly and technology is rapidly developing to improve patient outcomes. It is only natural that education will also change, and technology will be developed to improve student outcomes.  This is such an exciting time to be in healthcare! 

ADVICE

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a teacher?

“Welcome to a career where you never stop learning.” 

This was said to me by a ninety-year-old patient who was also a nurse. She kept her nursing license current, stayed up-to-date with nursing journals, and wrote many articles to assist newer nurses. Shortly before her death she even completed Continuing Education to ensure her license could be renewed. She was right―in healthcare we need to continually improve and learn―our patients depend on us to be lifelong learners.

And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Nursing is an incredible profession!  It is challenging and rewarding like no other.  What other job gives you the opportunity to impact lives like a nurse does? As a nurse, we should never be bored and our job should never be routine. There are so many different areas where nurses work that the opportunities are seemingly endless. We are lifelong learners, continually growing in our practice and our ability to impact others positively! 

See more posts by Jenny Erkfitz, EdD, MSN, RN, NCLEX Instructor, Kaplan Nursing

Hallie Bensinger, DNP, APN, FNP-BC, Kaplan Nurse Consultant

Dr. Bensinger is a Family Nurse Practitioner with over ten years of teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level.  She specializes in women's health.  She has served as an Assistant Professor and BSN/MSN Program director.  Her passion is in the area of teaching critical thinking and clinical reasoning.  She joined Kaplan in 2017 and enjoys working with faculty to promote student success.

ABOUT

Nursing has been the most amazing journey for me! I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and then my masters and doctorate from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis, Tennessee. I have worked as a nurse in medical surgical nursing, maternity nursing, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility nursing.  Once I obtained my masters and family practice certification after ten years at the bedside/office, I continued to work in women’s health in infertility and then obstetrics and gynecology.  

I joined my UTHSC alma mater as an instructor in 2007, teaching everything from health assessment to community and everything in between―with the exception of pediatrics. I taught clinical and didactic for most of these courses at the bachelors and masters levels. I have also taught in doctoral programs, teaching health assessment and family practice.   

In 2013, I graduated with my doctorate in nursing with a focus on vulvovaginal diseases and female cancers. I became an Assistant Professor and later served as the BSN/CNL Program Director prior to coming to Kaplan in 2017.  I left the university setting in order to be closer to family and to care for an aging parent. In addition to my academic pursuits, in 2012, I started a small business that furthers nursing education.

What is your particular area of expertise?

Women’s Health, Health Assessment, Entrepreneurship.  I am also passionate about travel and photography!

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

My maternal grandmother. She was one of the most influential women in my life.  I miss her and wish I could sit and talk to her one more time.  Even though she lived to be 102 years old and we got to visit often, it still wasn’t long enough. She was always upbeat and positive. She had wanted to be a nurse, but in her day, that was looked down upon.

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

As an instructor, I taught by Socratic Method.  I am firmly devoted to teaching critical thinking and clinical reasoning.  Kaplan is all about this, too. Kaplan’s Decision Tree falls step by step in line with the nursing process and the next generation NCLEX’s Clinical Judgment Measurement Model—all about how to critically think and reason.  Kaplan allows me to continue to promote this to our nursing leaders of today and tomorrow.  At Kaplan, I am able to work with many diverse groups of faculty and students, sharing these tools that will be used beyond taking a test—tools that will help them solve problems throughout their career.

Why is it so important for educators to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

It is imperative that students are able to “think like a nurse” today.  This has never been a truer statement.  Faculty is having to teach students more than ever before with less time to do so because medicine is advancing so rapidly and because patients have never been more complicated.  The pandemic has limited clinical experiences for many students.  Yet, when they begin their practice, they will face even more difficult challenges in much more complicated patients and care due to the virus.  Preparing them to “think like a nurse” gives them the tools to handle problems that they and their patients encounter.

In your opinion, how can educators best support students preparing for their exams?

One thing that as instructors we may assume is that students know how to critically think.  They do, but they do not know how to do it as a nurse.  It is up to us to teach them how to do this.  A simple way of helping students in the classroom is to bring in higher level questions into the class and help them think through them.  Active learning through flipped classrooms, case studies and discussions are also excellent ways to help students prepare for exams and beyond.

Do you have a particularly notable student success story to share?

My favorite quotes from students are from those who pass NCLEX and come back to say, “Kaplan was harder!”  When they come back and say this, you KNOW that they are prepared.

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing your institutional partners today and how can Kaplan help solve those problems?   

I think that the thing that is most prevalent in the minds of our partners is the upcoming Next Generation NCLEX.  Because Kaplan has always stressed critical thinking and clinical reasoning, we are well prepared to assist faculty through this transition.  Faculty are already teaching critical thinking, and Kaplan has been teaching what the Clinical Judgment Measurement Model is testing since the inception of the Kaplan Decision Tree.  

The Decision Tree falls in step by step with the model—recognizing and analyzing cues, formulating and prioritizing hypotheses, planning, implementation and evaluation.  

Furthermore, with the addition of the i-Human Patients virtual simulations, students experience all of this and more.  As students go through the cases, they apply every aspect of the measurement model when caring for their virtual patient.  They get immediate feedback on what they are doing, so working through these cases further heightens their critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills.  

Kaplan also supports faculty by offering test construction workshops and we are already writing Next Generation NCLEX-style questions and testing them for incorporation into future tests for students.

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

In my opinion, there are two things that set us apart from others.  The first is our Decision Tree.  The Decision Tree teaches students to apply the concepts that they are learning about.  Students will not only use the Tree to help them think through NCLEX; it will also help them when they start practicing and start solving patient problems.  

The second thing that sets us apart is the customer service.  Faculty have an entire team that ensures that they get the most out of their Kaplan Resources.  The Account Manager assists with all things technical. The Nurse Consultant assists with all things academic and helps faculty master use of the products and advises on best practices for use. And the Renewal Manager assists with sales and contracts, helping clients choose the products that best suit their needs.  

All team members share the same passion—promoting student success!

What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?

While we have seen some great didactic changes with the pandemic, we may have students graduating who have never spent time at the bedside.  Virtual patients and simulation are extremely valuable but will never replace hands-on experience with patients.  As faculty, we need to be looking at ways to bridge the gap between lack of live clinicals and post-licensure practice.  We must work with our hospital partners to determine how to best assist new graduates in this transition to practice.

LOOKING AHEAD

What will the future of education be like for students and faculty? 

The pandemic has presented significant challenges, forcing faculty to switch to all online teaching and virtual clinical experiences.  Innovation is born out of necessity.  I find this an exciting time as there are so many improvements coming out of the changes.  

I believe that the pandemic has forced us away from as much “sage on the stage” towards more active learning strategies to keep students engaged. Switching to virtual patients in many instances has been shown to provide practice for students and assessment of skills by instructors.  Virtual patients may allow faculty to discover at risk students earlier rather than later so intervention can occur.  These changes have not been easy for faculty, however, I believe that many changes will enhance student learning and continue to be a part of the curriculum.  

ADVICE

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

Nursing is lifelong learning.  The day I think I know everything that there is to know about nursing is the day that I will quit.  I will never know everything that there is to know about nursing.

And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Nursing is the toughest job you will ever love.  If you got into nursing because it is a “calling” and not just to have a lucrative job, the rewards are great.  I have been able to do so many different things in my career!  The opportunities are almost infinite—if you tire of one area, it is very easy to switch to something else.  You are only limited by your imagination.

See more posts by Hallie Bensinger, DNP, APN, FNP

Meredith MacKenzie Greenle, PhD, RN, CRNP, CNE, NCLEX Instructor

Meredith MacKenzie Greenle is a nurse educator and nurse practitioner who lives and works near Philadelphia, PA. A member of the Kaplan team for 9 years, she teaches live and online classes, serves as a member of the Ask-A-Teacher chat team and assists with curriculum development projects. A Kaplan Way Award winner for 2019, she is passionate about coaching and mentoring the next generation of nurses. 

ABOUT

I was born in Upstate New York, but moved to Pennsylvania at an early age and have lived in various parts of the state since then. I graduated from the BSN program at Messiah College in 2007 and later completed a MSN in 2010 and PhD in 2014 at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with teaching for Kaplan, I also work as an associate professor for a local university and serve as a nurse practitioner for a free clinic in Philadelphia. My wife and I are the new proud parents of a 7-month-old baby boy, along with a sweet 8-year-old “furbaby” dog.

What is your particular area of expertise?

NCLEX Prep! End-of-life care, advance care planning, and physical assessment. I’m also a passionate baker and have perfected the scone!

Who inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing? 

My paternal grandparents were huge influences in my life and my grandfather lived with prostate cancer for about 20 years, going in and out of hospice care. His hospice nurses were truly amazing and were always willing to chat to me and show me what they were doing. One of them gave me an extra urinary catheter kit to “practice with” and walked me through the procedure - I was about 5 years old at the time and that kit was my most treasured possession for a long time (I was an odd kid, I’ll admit!) From that moment, I was determined to become a nurse myself.

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I’ve worked at Kaplan for the last 9 years and absolutely love it! I started out by teaching NCLEX prep in the classroom and my role has since expanded to include teaching online, working as part of our chat team and helping out with various content development projects. Every day brings new challenges and learning opportunities as we constantly strive to improve our student experience. And I really thrive on the excitement, growth, and positive energy of my students and colleagues.

What are your thoughts on the value of standardized tests for nurses?

Standardized tests sometimes get a “bad rap” in nursing, and I’ve heard a lot of nursing students (and nursing instructors!) say that the NCLEX has no relationship with actual clinical practice. I disagree―although the NCLEX is testing clinical reasoning in a “perfect world,” it still allows you to really break down situations and prioritize. 

A few years ago, I led a seminar on the relevance of the NCLEX to clinical teaching. I had a tough crowd of nursing clinical instructors who weren’t big fans of the NCLEX, but they were amazed when I went through a typical clinical scenario and then showed them how they might see the same scenario in a series of NCLEX questions. As a clinical instructor, there is a lot of clinical reasoning that occurs almost automatically for you―and it can be hard to break it down and make it explicit for your students. Standardized testing is all about breaking it down and making it explicit. As a clinical instructor, knowing how the NCLEX works and how to break down test questions has made a huge difference in the way I teach and coach students through scenarios.

In your opinion, how can institutions best support students preparing for their exams?

Test-taking is a skill. Like any other skill, students need coaching and practice to master it. Students do need a lot of practice questions, but they also need coaching on the strategies to use while test-taking and feedback about how they can improve. Incorporating test-taking coaching sessions into the curriculum, giving students lots of practice questions, and showing them how to remediate their questions effectively ultimately sets them up for success.

What innovations at Kaplan are you most excited about?

We launched the Ask-A-Teacher NCLEX Expert chat line last year, which allows students to connect directly with one of our NCLEX instructors from their Kaplan home page via a chat portal. As a member of the chat team, it’s been absolutely great to work with students one-on-one to help them with the Decision Tree, coach them to score improvement and work through their test-taking anxiety. I’ve heard so many success stories from students and I truly believe this added support goes a long way to boosting students’ test-taking confidence. I am also really excited about our new personalized Decision Tree feedback now embedded in many of our Qbank questions―it's like having your NCLEX instructor next to you walking you through the question! It helps reinforce how to use the Decision Tree and also allows students to really identify which steps of the Decision Tree they are struggling to use.

Which test prep innovations do you wish you’d had access to when you were in university?

I really wish that I had had access to the amazing virtual simulations we now have available when I was in nursing school. Being able to practice scenarios virtually before getting into the actual clinical environment would have been a huge boost to my clinical reasoning and confidence.

What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the challenges of the current state of nursing clinical education. Most students will go through clinical rotations as “guests” of various clinical agencies with varied restrictions placed on what they can and cannot do. Although students spend a lot of time with an assigned patient, they are not really integrated into the healthcare team.

As we move into the future, I think we have to consider the importance of developing tighter academic-clinical partnerships. A number of nursing leaders and organizations have already proposed that students be employed by healthcare agencies and receive academic credit for their work during this crisis. In the longer-term, figuring out how to develop closer academic-clinical partnerships that employ students and their instructors as full members of the healthcare team―while preserving the safety of both patients and students is a key priority for nursing education. 

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

Keep a "Success List." We all tend to focus on what we don’t know or what we need to do better. Remind yourself everyday of how far you have come and what you have achieved. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a teacher? 

I was a super-stressed type A student in my undergraduate years. When I started my MSN, my first clinical professor told me, “I want you to make a commitment to get a B in one class.” I thought she was crazy at the time, but I found that I actually learned more when I quit stressing about grades and just leaned into the process.

When I first dreamed of being a nurse as a small child, I had no idea of the places nursing would take me! It’s been an amazing journey so far and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

See more posts by Meredith MacKenzie Greenle, PhD, RN, CRNP, CNE, NCLEX Instructor

Laura Hollister-Meadows, DNP, FNP-BC, Executive Director, Graduate Nursing, i-Human Patients

I am currently enrolled in Duke’s postgraduate certification program in health informatics with an expected graduation date of May 2022. Just prior to joining Kaplan I worked at Providence Health in Physician Enterprises. The focus of this role was to ensure clinical content integrity and applicability in QI ambulatory care projects as well as assist in the design and review of analytics indicative of quality patient care.

ABOUT

I currently reside in Richland, Washington with my husband and two children. I grew up in central New Jersey just north of Princeton. After high school, I attended the University of Richmond and earned a BS in Business Administration. Then, after six years in investment banking and corporate finance, I decided to change career paths. I enrolled in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing and graduated with a MS in Nursing in 2005. 

Since that time I have been working as a family nurse practitioner in primary care. I spent approximately nine years working in a rural community on the Olympic Peninsula. It was there that my scope of practice broadened and became proficient in numerous outpatient procedures in cardiology, dermatology, gynecology, and orthopedics. 

In 2014 our family relocated to our current locale in eastern WA. Since 2014 I have been actively involved in the medical education community. I have precepted MD, NP, and PA students, taught outpatient procedures to family medicine residents, taught undergraduate and graduate didactics for the Washington State University School of Nursing, and served as a clinical instructor for the Washington State University School of Medicine. In 2020, I graduated from Duke School of Nursing with a DNP and focused my studies on assessing the impact of training programs on clinician EHR proficiency. 

I am currently enrolled in Duke’s postgraduate certification program in health informatics with an expected graduation date of May 2022. Just prior to joining Kaplan I worked at Providence Health in Physician Enterprises. The focus of this role was to ensure clinical content integrity and applicability in QI ambulatory care projects as well as assist in the design and review of analytics indicative of quality patient care.

What are your particular areas of expertise?

I am an expert on primary care - family practice, outpatient procedures, data analytics, and I love to read.

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

– Helen Keller

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

Congressman John Lewis. I would love to hear of his life experiences first hand. I would love to know from where did he find strength and from where did he find solace. I would love to better understand his perspective and opinion of our nation’s journey toward equality and how we continue to move forward. Good Trouble.

EXPERIENCE IN MEDICAL EDUCATION

How long have you worked for Kaplan and what drew you to your current role?

I am new to Kaplan. (At the time of writing this article, I have been with Kaplan for approximately two weeks.) My work focuses on ensuring quality and accuracy of content in the i-Human Patients simulation product as well as supporting faculty and students in its implementation and adoption. 

While working as faculty at WSU I participated in a group of NP professionals contracted by Kaplan to compose the FNP Certification text. I fell in love with the Kaplan culture and felt inspired by the intellect and integrity of those with whom I collaborated. I am really excited about the opportunity to work with the i-Human Patients software because I believe it leverages the years of experience I have had as a FNP, challenges my knowledge of informatics and technology to develop innovative technical solutions for healthcare education, and promotes a forum for educators and students to share their teaching and learning success.

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

Healthcare is a mission-driven industry. Those who choose to pursue a career in the care of others are the pillars of their community and the industry. They commit profound dedication and make sacrifices to improve the lives of others. Kaplan’s roots in education make it easy for our organization to relate to those who constantly serve beyond the interest of themselves. Kaplan is about serving the student and supporting the faculty to develop the most exceptional graduates of their profession. 

Our mission-driven goals seek to enhance learning experiences and teaching opportunities in a world and industry of unremitting change. Specifically, our virtual simulation solutions responded by extending patient interaction opportunities in a time when healthcare organizations had to prioritize their time and facilities to mitigating public health risks. We know our world faces shortages in healthcare providers and our organization is dedicated to developing and extending innovative educational interventions that lighten the load of faculty and enhance the proficiencies of students.

Why is it so important for institutions to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

I believe the most successful institutions prepare students to also “think like patients.” While it is imperative students understand the fundamentals of healthcare like anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnostics, epidemiology, etc., it is also critical that students understand the role they play in patients’ lives, the cultures in which they were raised and are affiliated, and the plethora of sources extending medical advice. 

The i-Human Patients simulation product delivers the opportunity to explore and navigate with patients their own biases, hesitancies, and limited resources. The i-Human solution offers dynamic exchanges unavailable in traditional didactics and time-restricted live patient encounters. Successful healthcare practitioners know the success of a diagnosis and its treatment plan relies on the commitment by a patient. Patient commitment is best achieved with compassion, cultural awareness, and empowerment of patients through a thoughtful shared-decision making model.

What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?

Bringing joy to work. How do we make the demanding days, weeks, months, and years of service sustainable? How do we change healthcare and education culture so that for those who serve, the expectation is NOT to increase resilience, rather patients and students improve their capacity to extend grace?

And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

We choose to be happy. I have only recently truly understood this. I secure my happiness by being kind, hopeful, faithful, and grateful. How do you secure your happiness?

See more posts by Laura Hollister-Meadows, DNP, FNP-BC, Executive Director, Graduate Nursing, i-Human Patients

Kendra Spaulding, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, NCLEX Instructor

Kendra is a nurse educator, nursing professor, and nurse practitioner who lives in Melbourne, FL. As the clinical nurse educator for surgical services for a large IDN, her focus is on developing evidence-based clinical initiatives to educate staff, improve processes, and ensure patient safety. She is passionate about being a member of the Kaplan LOL nursing team, Live Expert Chat team, and collaborating with the content development team to create new content for Kaplan students. When she isn't working, you can find her spending time with family, reading, or on the beach- preferably all three together! 

ABOUT

I’m originally from a very small town in NE Arkansas, but have lived in Germany, Hawaii, and now Florida. My work experience has been so diverse, which is one of the things I love the most about nursing. I started out as a scrub tech and patient care tech while in nursing school. My first RN job was in the SICU, then I worked as a 24 hr. short stay, charge nurse at a GI clinic, as an OR circulator, and I was an APRN for a reconstructive plastic surgeon all before I started teaching. 

A few months after accepting my role at Kaplan, I began teaching for Hawaii Pacific University where I created, taught, and coordinated Hawaii’s first (and only!) AGACNP program. I currently work for an IDN comprising four hospitals and serve as the Clinical Nurse Educator for Surgical Services. I also serve as the program coordinator for the Peri-op 101 OR nurse internship. Since January 2020 I’ve also been adjunct faculty in an AGACNP program online. 

My pilot husband and I have two wonderful little girls and the best puppy ever and are loving the beach life here in FL!

What is your particular area of expertise?

Reconstructive plastic surgery, surgical education, AGACNP education. I also love to travel and have been to 38 countries!

Who inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing? 

My mom was an orthopedic surgeon’s nurse for 32 years before she retired, my older brothers are both nurses, and my older sister worked for an orthodontist for 28 years, so I grew up around the medical field. I spent every summer of my teen years working in my mom’s office, watching surgeries in the OR, attending medical camps, and serving as a day camp counselor at our local hospitals’ medical camp for kids. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but it wasn’t until my first semester of college that I decided on nursing. I set my sights on becoming an APRN and always knew I’d want to get the terminal degree, which I completed last year.

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

My Paternal Grandmother. She died when my father was a child, so I never met her.

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I moved to Hawaii in January 2016. By March, I was ready to look for a new job and came across a Kaplan posting online. My Master’s Degree is in Adult Acute Care Nursing and in Nursing Education, but until that point, I had not had the opportunity to teach. When I saw the ad for this role, I knew I had to apply. Since I was the only instructor in Hawaii, I was able to teach several classes, as well as present at several marketing events around Oahu. Not long after, I joined the Live Online teaching team, The Live Expert Chat team soon followed. 

I love the variety of opportunities at Kaplan and the various modes of information delivery we provide to the students―such as books, podcasts, videos, and live instruction. I was a contributing author to Kaplan’s FNP textbook published in 2018, have recorded several podcasts, and worked on various content development projects. 

The best part of teaching is that moment when the student not only gets what they are being taught, but then takes it to that next level of critical thinking on their own. Sharing knowledge is fun and empowering both for those sharing and those learning.

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

Our instructors. Our faculty are so diverse in background and experience. We bring a lot to the table. I learn something new from my fellow instructors every class and love to get their insight on their areas of expertise. While we all present the same information, we have our own unique style and delivery, which reaches a broader range of students. 

Why is it so important for institutions to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

It’s important to “think like a nurse” as that is what students will be expected to do in the real world. When there is a disconnect between what they are learning in school and what is actually happening in practice, the students are at a disadvantage after graduation. Preparing them for what to expect in practice―thinking on their feet, using critical thinking skills, functioning as a registered nurse leader on an intraprofessional team―those are the skills that will serve them well after graduation and ease their transition into practice.

Which innovation do you wish you’d had access to when you were in university?

I wish we would have had the Kaplan Nursing Channel! Other than our instructors, I think it’s Kaplan’s most beneficial offering. I would have loved the opportunity to attend live online classes that cover such a wide range of pertinent topics with a variety of instructors in the online classroom environment. Our Live Expert Chat is also pretty amazing. Having Kaplan/NCLEX experts on hand to work through questions and assist with study prep is a great resource for students.

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

“Keep company with those who make you better.” 

and 

“The way we view the world, creates the world we see.” 

Knowledge is power. Never stop learning! 

See more posts by Kendra Spaulding, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, NCLEX Instructor

Rebecca Potter, MSIDT, MSN/ED, RN Kaplan Nursing Curriculum Specialist

As a Kaplan Nursing curriculum specialist and content manager Rebecca is uniquely positioned to utilize both her education and years of experience to deliver quality resources. Along with her degrees, she has certificates in online teaching and executive leadership and management. She is passionate about reducing learner and faculty anxiety with collaborative learning design and best practices. Her interests include the transformation of learning, leadership, and professional development. A member of The Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement, Association for Educational Communications and Technology, as well as Michigan Nursing Action Coalition she continues to mentor and collaborate with colleagues abroad.  

ABOUT

I am from a small town in southwest lower Michigan where I started in the nursing field as a nursing assistant caring for individuals in a nursing home. Being at the bedside allowed me to experience the possibilities that nursing could offer. With the positive encouragement of several nurses and doctors I worked with, I went to the community college to obtain my associates degree. I have always loved learning, but that first degree opened up so much in my mind that I have never stopped.

I went on to achieve my bachelor's and then my first master's degree in Nursing. Then, with the goal of becoming more effective in the online setting, I obtained a post-graduate certificate in Online Teaching. Because I aspired to be a leader and knew that I would need business knowledge in a leadership position, I attended the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business to obtain post graduate certificates in Management, Leadership, and Executive Leadership.

Because I was passionate about education, I then chose to change directions a bit and went to Purdue for my second master's degree focusing on Instructional Design and Technology. My education is currently in the doctoral phase where I am in my last courses at Capella for a PhD of Education specializing in Instructional Design of Online Learning. 

What is your particular area of expertise?

I am an expert in curriculum content and design. My passion is to create a curriculum that will help ease a nursing student's anxiety and allow them to learn the content in a safe environment. I am also an expert in online teaching and learning. This stems from my years of experience as a lifelong learner as well as an online nurse educator.   

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

If I could spend an evening with anyone living or deceased, it would have to be Maya Angelou. I love the way she speaks and I would like to sit in her presence and soak in all of her life experiences. 

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I started at Kaplan in 2009 when we were still in the brick-and-mortar centers. Working from a location close to the University of Notre Dame was so exciting to the "Kaplan fan" in me. The experience helped develop me into the educator/presenter I am today.

After teaching in nursing programs and for Kaplan for years, I was referred to the Nurse Consultant position. Since I loved to travel when teaching, I knew it would be a great opportunity. My passion for nursing and nursing education took me to many parts of the Great Lakes states to lead partner schools through the Kaplan Nursing resources. Wanting to develop and design more, I welcomed the opportunity to be a curriculum specialist. While new to this part of the nursing team, I look forward to what the future has for us all.

How has your unique background prepared you for success in your field? 

My unique background of nursing, education, and instructional design has prepared me to successfully collaborate and lead others by being an experienced voice and source of knowledge.

What innovations at Kaplan are you most excited about?

I am most excited about the future technological innovations that Kaplan can bring to the online education arena. We are uniquely positioned to share innovations across traditional fields such as pre-college educationlawmedicinenursing, etc. - Innovations that can fit right into their curriculum.

What do you think the future of test prep will look like? 

In my opinion, the future of test prep continues to move further into the online setting while offering the learner a more individualized experience with intelligent design and virtual applications.

See more posts by Rebecca L. Potter PhD(c), MSIDT, MSN/ED, RN, Director of Nursing Product Content

Dawn Catlin, MSN, RN Kaplan Faculty Nurse Consultant

Dawn Catlin, MSN, RN. Received her Master of Science in Nursing with an Education emphasis from Kaplan University, Iowa and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Millikin University in Illinois. Dawn has extensive experience in clinical practice including community public health, neonatal ICU, home care case management, and intermediate nursing care.  She transitioned to nursing education in 2009 and taught in both a practical and associates degree hybrid program.  In 2012, Dawn joined the Nurse Consultant team at Kaplan where she continues to cover the Midwest region and works as Kaplan’s International expert.  Dawn resides in Iowa with her husband of 20+ years and 3 children. 

ABOUT

I was born in California but didn’t stay there long. Grew up in the Charlotte, NC area but then moved to central Illinois in my teens.  I always knew I wanted to go to college and had originally thought of becoming a school teacher.  I started out at a community college but then something happened along the way.  After taking a few years of general classes I ended up transferring to Millikin University to become a nurse.  I remember my first meeting with my nursing advisor.  She asked me why I wanted to be a nurse.  I really didn’t know how to answer as I did not know any nurses or anyone in the medical field.  I was a first generation college student.  It is strange, but I just felt this strong compulsion that nursing is where I was meant to be.  I didn’t even know if I could do it, but I had always enjoyed all the science classes in high school and I enjoyed taking care of people.  So I answered as best I could. By stating that I originally wanted to be a teacher but thought I would enjoy helping people as a nurse.  She looked at me and said, “Well we do a lot of teaching in nursing.” Once enrolled and started classes I was completely hooked!  Even though there were many challenging days and clinical days where I didn’t think I was cut out for nursing, I persevered.  And I am so glad to say that I truly don’t believe that I chose nursing but that nursing chose me!

What is your particular area of expertise?

Here at Kaplan I find myself being the International NCLEX Prep expert working with all our international programs.  I also have extensive teaching experience in Community Public Health Nursing and Pediatric nursing.  In my free time, I enjoy watching cooking shows, reading all different genres of books, and am super competitive at board games.  If you are on my team be prepared to win!

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

This is a tough one for me.  I thought about going philosophical and listing someone like Martin Luther, any of the prophets or Jesus Christ himself.  However, I think it would be awesome to spend an evening with my husband’s mother, Patricia Catlin.  She passed away shortly after I had my oldest son nearly 20 years ago.  So much has changed in the world and there is so much I would like to share with her. Not only about how her grandkids have grown up, but how we have tried to keep her memory alive by sharing with them her favorite things.  I would love the opportunity to show her how her legacy has lived on.

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I have worked for Kaplan since February 2009.  I started out at a KU campus teaching in a PN program and then in a hybrid RN program.  I then moved into the nurse consultant role to help faculty and nursing on a broader scale.  Being able to offer support and encouragement to nursing faculty while they teach our next generation of nurses is the best part of my job!

In your opinion, how can institutions best support students preparing for their exams?

Faculty can support their students by giving them opportunities to think on their own.  Incorporating problem based learning scenarios can foster critical thinking and move them from memorizing content to applying what they know.  Students should focus on learning versus being taught.  

Also, I believe students of today are competitive and like to play games.  Utilizing gaming for unit/end of course reviews prior to testing can help students make connections to important concepts and content. 

What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?

Professionals in nursing should be having conversations on nursing’s role in how to bridge/heal the race/gender relations among colleagues and patients.  Nursing and Nursing Education can do better at being more inclusive and being more diverse to promote a greater impact on the communities in which they work and live.  We should be leading by example. 

In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue facing your institutional partners today and how can Kaplan help solve those problems?      

The most pressing issue facing nursing faculty is the upcoming changes to the NCLEX to include Next Generation NCLEX.  It has caused much anxiety for faculty as they look for resources to help prepare their students for success.  Here at Kaplan, we are working to ensure students and faculty will be supported.  

We are busy writing test items that fit within the new types of questions.  We also have our i-Human Patient virtual simulations that support the clinical judgement framework.  We even have a blog dedicated to information and resources for nurse educators where they can even download an NGN ebook to get detailed information all in one place.   

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

Stay the course!  Even though you may have graduated from nursing school, you have not reached the finish line until you pass the NCLEX.  Study every day, by practicing questions and review them by thinking about how you were thinking on each question.  

And be kind to your soul; celebrate the smallest accomplishments.

See more posts by Dawn Marie Catlin, EdD (c), MSN, RN, Faculty Nurse Consultant

Shannon Meijer DNP, RN, Kaplan Nurse Educator Consultant

Shannon has over 28 years of nursing experience, with more than half of those years being specific to nursing education. She received her BSN from Nazareth College, MSN in Nursing Education from Walden University and her DNP in Academic Leadership from Jacksonville University. She has served in both faculty and director positions over the years and continues to teach online courses for a BSN program. She maintains active membership in the American Nurses Association, International Nurses Association, Phi Kappa PHi Graduate Honor Society and Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. Her special interests include nursing student success from program admission to NCLEX, reducing testing anxiety, and mentoring new nurse educators.

ABOUT

I grew up in a small, rural area nestled in southwest Michigan. I have had a desire to become a nurse from a very young age, with heavy influences from my grandmother who was also a nurse. I received my BSN from Nazareth College (Kalamazoo, MI), my MSN from Walden University specializing in nursing education, and my DNP from Jacksonville University with a focus on academic nursing leadership. Over the years, I never dreamt of becoming a nurse educator, however my experiences from my BSN program were not only educational but also provided me with inspiration and motivation to pursue more. It had always been a goal of mine to give the gift of nursing to others as a way to “pay it forward” for receiving such an amazing education experience in my BSN program which opened the door of endless opportunity. Over the years I enjoyed precepting new nurses and eventually began teaching within an academic setting. I held roles in nursing as a faculty and program director, and continue to teach online courses as an adjunct faculty.

What is your particular area of expertise?

My nursing expertise began as a generalist in various areas of Medical-Surgical nursing in a variety of settings and eventually guided me to really hone in on areas of Cardiovascular and Critical Care. The latter half of my nursing career, my expertise has shifted to nursing education guiding the future of nursing toward achieving great success. I enjoy gardening and baking along with the challenges and surprises that each present as I explore new plants and recipes.

Who inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing? 

From a very young age, I learned from my grandmother what it was like to be a nurse. She taught me how to care for my dolls with a homemade nursing kit.  I always dreamed of becoming a nurse just like her. She is the reason I am the nurse I am today. The day she retired from the local hospital was the same day I began my first nursing job at the same hospital. It took some planning...but we made it happen. A true, pass-the-nursing-lamp moment. 

The words of wisdom she passed along were to always take care of the patient and their environment. Patients only feel as good as the environment they are in. This meant tidying up their room and watering their plants/flowers they may have received. She said, “If you cannot keep the patient’s room clean and their plants or flowers from dying, how can you keep the patient clean and full of life?”

If you could spend an evening with anyone - living or deceased - who would it be and why?

Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing. I would like to check in with her to see how we measure up to her vision for nursing today, especially given our current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Even through all the advancements of healthcare and nursing, do the foundations of nursing still resonate in today’s nursing practice as it did 160 years ago?

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I have been on the Kaplan payroll for a little over two years; however, I have been working with Kaplan products, resources, and the amazing service team for over 16 years. As an educator, I integrated Kaplan resources into my courses to assess student understanding of various concepts and to guide them to greater success within the nursing program. As an administrator, I continued to use the Kaplan resources throughout the entire nursing program, from admission testing to that final NCLEX preparation. Through these experiences I could really see the value Kaplan has to offer students and educators. I served on the Kaplan Nursing Advisory Council, providing feedback and aiding in the development of new products and resources. I appreciated the value of Kaplan’s resources and services and wanted to become part of the Kaplan team. Now, as a Nurse Educator Consultant, I am able to assist others, faculty and students, in achieving program and NCLEX success.

Why is it so important for institutions to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

As healthcare and healthcare technologies evolve, so does the complexity of care delivery. Nurses must think critically and make sound judgements with confidence. Real time, practical application of newly learned knowledge is crucial in getting nursing students to think and act like  nurses. Kaplan has many great resources to help students apply what they know through standardized testing, customizable focused review testing, remediations, digital flashcards and virtual simulations and so much more.

Do you have a particularly notable student success story to share?

Over the years, I have heard many student success stories. One common thread that has been woven throughout each of these stories has been persistence in achieving success. Those who push forward, even in times when they feel as though they do not have an ounce more of energy, are those who prevail and achieve their nursing program and NCLEX success. Successful students keep their eye on the end goal and never stop pursuing this goal.

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

Customer service! Our team approaches and connections we have with our partners really set us apart from others. We are partner-focused, ensuring we are understanding, supporting, and meeting our partner’s needs. We listen to our partners, ask for their feedback and ideas, and use their feedback to continually improve upon our products and services.

What is the most pressing issue facing nursing schools today and how can Kaplan help solve those problems?

Certainly, the current pandemic our world is facing has created great challenges for our partners. By leveraging technology, Kaplan has been able to help our school partners quickly pivot to online learning from the classroom, through lab and clinical experiences. Kaplan continues to provide a variety of resources and ideas through our platforms, blogs, webinars, white papers, and more to guide the preparation of future nurses.

What do you think the future of test prep will look like? 

I believe the future of test prep will be multidimensional. Advancements in technology will allow candidates to experience a greater degree of realism when demonstrating their ability to make competent, sound clinical decisions. I envision test prep to provide clinical practice application through virtual simulations or virtual reality platforms.

PREPPING FOR NGN

In your opinion, what is the #1 most important thing that educators can do to prepare their students for success on the Next Gen NCLEX? 

Engage students in active learning within the classroom. Use varied teaching strategies to tap into all different learning styles. Using unfolding case studies, socratic questioning, think-pair-share approaches to problem solving, and virtual simulations as ways to get students to critically think and make sound clinical judgments. It is not all about getting Next Gen NCLEX items into a test, but using similar methods to answer Next Gen NCLEX items as activities within the classroom.

Studying for the NCLEX is commonly referred to as “a marathon not a sprint.” What advice can you give to educators about how to encourage their student’s long term studying habits? 

Be open with students from day one of nursing school that they are preparing for two things that are necessary in order to become a nurse 1. a nursing degree and 2. a nursing license. These are parallel goals students will be working to achieve. 

Preparation for the NCLEX should begin on the first day of nursing school. Students need to be informed about the NCLEX, what it is, its purpose, and what to expect when their time comes to take the NCLEX. The NCLEX is not something students begin to prepare for once they graduate from nursing school. 

Is there a tried-and-true strategy that you could recommend for nursing students to manage their stress and mental health around their board exams? 

It is important to maintain self care practices throughout nursing school. Instill these practices early on so they become very natural during times of extreme stress. Take regular breaks, exercise, eat healthy, laugh often, learn from mistakes.

ADVICE & TIPS

While working in nursing education is certainly rewarding, there is a certain amount of understandable burnout in the industry. How do you stay sharp and inspired? 

I find time for myself, time for family and friends. It is all about finding balance between work and our personal lives. Exercising, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and getting adequate sleep are key. It is hard for nurses to practice what we preach. As caregivers, we are continuously giving ourselves and our time selflessly to others. It does not always feel natural to nurses to stop and care for ourselves. I often think of the pre-flight safety instructions on an airplane when the flight attendant instructs everyone to FIRST put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. We are no good to others if we are not 100% ourselves, mentally or physically. Find the right work/life balance and commit to it.

Do you have any advice to share for nursing educators who are struggling to connect with Gen Y & Z students?

Educate yourself on what makes the Y & X generations who they are and be open and accepting of new ideas. Learn from one another. There are many ways to get from point A to point B. Explore approaches and ideas shared by others. 

What are your recommendations for reaching disengaged or slipping students who are struggling with online learning? 

If educators identify students that are disengaged or struggling with online learning it is necessary to reach out independently to that student. Explore with the student what some of the barriers might be and work together to find solutions to overcome these barriers. It may be that some of these roadblocks are not related to the student’s desire to learn, but perhaps personal concerns with family, living arrangements, or financial status. If the latter are evident, guiding the student to necessary resources for assistance would be recommended. Regardless of the reason, reaching out and showing the student you care about their wellbeing and success can make a huge difference.

In your opinion, what does it take to be a true leader in nursing?

An open mind, self awareness, innovative thinking, patience, and acceptance. Maintain the focus of continuous support for others while they work toward achieving their goals and maximizing their potential. 

One of my favorite quotes comes from John Maxwell:

“Leaders become great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”

Are there any Kaplan webinars or resources that you’d recommend for educators seeking to learn more about a trending topic in education? 

Kaplan has many great resources for nursing educators whether brand new or veteran educators. I would recommend our Kaplan Nursing Blog and our Kaplan NextGen NCLEX Resources for Educators website Within these resources, one can find ways to Build Student Clinical Judgment Skills, integrate virtual simulation in the classroom and get the latest information on the NCSBN’s NextGen NCLEX and much more. 

Can you recommend books, periodicals, podcasts, or influencers that you follow to continue your nursing knowledge at home?

There are so many resources available, it can be overwhelming. My suggestion here would be to choose a couple that speak to you as an educator. Time is precious, so I often will gravitate to podcasts or nursing education journals that I can access through online portals.

Have you ever worked abroad in healthcare? Would you recommend the experience to students and educators to expand their knowledge and horizons?

No, I have not. However, having “in-laws” in a European country, I have learned first hand there are many differences between healthcare in the United States and in other countries. I would welcome the opportunity to practice abroad and would encourage others to take advantage of such opportunities.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a teacher?

Don’t ever become complacent. Never stop learning.

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

Pace yourself. You are training for a marathon, not a sprint. Practice and prepare a little bit each day. Start with the most difficult or least familiar topics/concepts first. Treat yourself at various milestone points along the way.

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

- William James

I am a strong believer in the power of positive thinking and maintaining a positive attitude.

See more posts by Shannon Meijer DNP, RN, Nurse Educator Consultant

Ellie Wagner DNP, RN, Faculty Nurse Consultant

I received my diploma from the St. Vincent Medical Center School of Nursing and my BSN from Lourdes University, both in Toledo, OH. I began my career as a staff nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital in medical-surgical/pulmonary care and Intensive Care. From there, I joined a Family Medicine practice and had the wonderful experience of working with two physicians as a clinical affiliate. This experience allowed me to further develop my leadership skills, interprofessional communication, systems knowledge, and coordination of care skills. As a clinical affiliate, I developed several professional development sessions for staff, patient teaching and education sessions for the community, and mentored a number of new nurses, which grew my passion for education.  I obtained my MSN in nursing education from Lourdes University and then my DNP from Madonna University in Livonia, MI. As a nursing educator, I served in both faculty and leadership positions over the years and I continue my scholarship work in nursing clinical judgement development. I also maintain active membership in the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society.

ABOUT

I was born and raised in southern Michigan, the oldest of two children. Myself and my brother grew up spending much of our time playing sports, swimming, farming, raising sheep, and showing our animals at the county fair. The responsibility associated with raising and caring for my animals helped to develop my passion of caring for others and drew me to pursuing nursing.

I received my diploma from the St. Vincent Medical Center School of Nursing and my BSN from Lourdes University, both in Toledo, OH. I began my career as a staff nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital in medical-surgical/pulmonary care and Intensive Care. From there, I joined a Family Medicine practice and had the wonderful experience of working with two physicians as a clinical affiliate. This experience allowed me to further develop my leadership skills, interprofessional communication, systems knowledge, and coordination of care skills. As a clinical affiliate, I developed several professional development sessions for staff, patient teaching and education sessions for the community, and mentored a number of new nurses, which grew my passion for education. 

What is your particular area of expertise?

I have been a nurse for over 26 years, focusing my career in nursing education, adult medical-surgical care, and critical care nursing. I have expertise in the areas of clinical and didactic instruction, curriculum development & planning, clinical judgement education, nursing program development, simulation, teaching innovations, and online education.

Who or what experience inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing? 

First and foremost, my aunt, who was also a nurse. One day she observed me caring for one of my cousins that fell and injured their knee. I had cleaned and dressed the wound. (AKA: soap, water, and a Snoopy band-aide). She commented to me how well I had done and that I should be a nurse. Well, that stuck with me!!

Second, my biology teacher in high school. He fueled my passion for science and encouraged me to always follow my dreams. Cannot thank him enough!! 

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan and what drew you to your current role?

I joined Kaplan as a Faculty Nurse Consultant in April, 2021. As a nurse educator, I’d previously utilized Kaplan resources with students and assisted faculty to integrate resources into their courses and curriculum. I am a firm believer in teaching accurate nursing clinical judgment and critical thinking in the classroom and clinical areas for safer and more effective care. Kaplan is also dedicated to developing sound nursing clinical judgment, therefore, the transition to teaching other educators on a national level was a welcomed transition. 

In your opinion, why is it so important for institutions to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

Hands Down: For the most Safe and Effective Care for everyone. 

What is the most pressing issue facing your institutional partners today and how can Kaplan help solve those problems?

Some of the most pressing issues our institutional partners are facing is the changing landscape of nursing. We are seeing greater emphasis on critical thinking and clinical judgmentchanging NCLEX testing, and new Baccalaureate essentials. Kaplan has been preparing for all of these changes and is equipped with tools to help our educational partners be successful. This includes Kaplan test prepi-Human patient simulationsprofessional resources, best practices, and educator-to-educator support and guidance. 

What will the future of education be like for students and faculty? 

Greater integration of technology that supports safer care, early problem recognition, prevention of errors, and greater communication across the healthcare continuum. 

ADVICE

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

“I have learned that people will forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel” 

Maya Angelou

The true art of nursing should never be lost in the technology we use. Do not underestimate the power of listening, a gentle touch, or a simple smile with your patients. 

See more posts by Ellie Wagner DNP, RN, Faculty Nurse Consultant

Jennifer Moreland, RN, MSN, Kaplan Nurse Consultant

Jen Moreland, RN MSN, has over 15 years of nursing experience, with a majority of those years focused on nursing education. Initially Jen graduated from a local community college earning an Associate Degree in Nursing. Then, as she continued to work in the acute care setting as an oncology nurse, she completed her MSN in Nursing Education from Walden University. As an Associate Nursing Professor, Jen has spent many hours filling the role of Site Manager, Clinical Instructor/Coordinator as well as lead didactic instructor for a number of courses. Jen has taught at the PN, ADN and BSN levels and continues to teach online courses. Her educational interests include nursing student success as well as mentoring new nurse educators. Jen started teaching the Kaplan NCLEX Prep course in 2011. In 2018, Jen transitioned into the full time Kaplan Nurse Consultant role. Currently residing in small town Minnesota, Jen enjoys being outdoors and spends a majority of the summer and fall months kayaking and hiking with both family and friends.

ABOUT

Thinking back, it is hard for me to imagine that nursing was not my original career path. Once I did enter the nursing program, it was in that very first class when I knew that Nursing Education would be my end goal. 

I started in the field of nursing as an LPN, working and going to school until I completed my Master’s degree. My official transcript was published on a Friday and that very next Monday, my goal was realized as I was in the classroom teaching! 

What is your particular area of expertise?

I’m an expert on helping both RN and PN students prepare for not only NCLEX, but also their first year as a nurse. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy in conjunction with our platform, I work with students and faculty to understand how we learn so that students can streamline their studying and be as effective and efficient as possible.   

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

In 2011, while working as a full time Nurse Educator in the College setting, I started working for Kaplan on a very part time basis as a NCLEX Prep instructor. Over time, I found that, in addition to working directly with students, I was truly drawn to understanding how it is that we as faculty can help students understand how to study in the most effective and efficient way possible. I also often wondered how we could, as faculty, become more efficient in our role.

Someone once told me, “We often teach how we were taught.” Thinking of that, and knowing that the role of the nurse continues to evolve, I think it is important that how we educate our students also evolves. As educators, we need to be continuously working to adapt how we are teaching the information, and we need to share ideas with each other and help each other to implement those ideas. 

The role of Nurse Consultant has allowed me to do just that. In 2018 I transitioned into the full time role of Nurse Consultant. Working with a number of nursing programs as a whole provides me the opportunity to understand each program’s unique situation and goals. I work with each school and faculty member to understand how to apply real life action with the personalized data that they have. From there I also work to help brainstorm ways for faculty to use the Kaplan resources in the classroom to actively engage the students. 

Why is it so important for educators to prepare students to “think like a nurse?”

Application, application, application! I often ask my students to think back to some of their high school courses. In high school, students will often memorize the information as it is presented, recite it for the exam, and once out the door, the information is forgotten. 

With nursing, once they walk out of the door, students cannot afford to simply recite the information and forget it. Students need to be able to not only retain what they learned, but be able to apply it to patient situations at a later date. 

When students are studying they need to actively go beyond memorizing the information. They will want to “Think Like a Nurse” by studying in a way that has themselves asking every time they learn new information, “What am I thinking, seeing, doing, hearing.” 

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

What are your thoughts on the value of standardized tests for nurses?

Standardized tests often get a tough rap. While testing is not easy for everyone, standardized testing is meant to be used as a tool. This important tool allows us to measure a student’s ability at that moment in time.  

As nurses go out into the workforce, they will be providing patient care. Standardized tests such as NCLEX, helps ensure public safety by measuring a person’s ability to apply the information that they have learned.

What innovations at Kaplan are you most excited about?

I absolutely love our new faculty platform and how data is presented. There is a tremendous wealth of information available to faculty.

What do you think the future of test prep will look like? 

Our future for Licensure testing looks bright! As we look forward to the Next Generation NCLEX, students will be asked to apply the information they learned in school in a way never seen before.

ADVICE

If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for their board exams, it would be:

When you study, look at your material as an action plan. In nursing, you want to move your thinking beyond memorization. Every time you learn some new material, stop and ask yourself, “What am I thinking, seeing, doing, hearing?” 

This will help transition your thinking to the next level, moving beyond memorization and into application.

See more posts by Jen Moreland, RN MSN.

Audrey Schou, PHN, MSN, RN, Kaplan Nursing Faculty Consultant

Audrey Schou, MSN, RN, is currently a Kaplan Faculty Nurse Consultant who has been with Kaplan for over 17 years.  She has worked as NCLEX faculty both nationally and internationally, as a National Teacher Trainer, and for the past 11 years has been the West Coast Territory Nurse Consultant for Institutional Partnerships, providing educational guidance for over 80 nursing programs.  Audrey graduated from Cornell University School of Nursing and received her graduate degree in nursing education from Dominican University. Her expertise lays in maternal-child health, public health nursing, and medical-surgical nursing. Audrey also volunteers as a nurse at RotoCare Free Medical Clinic and is on the board of The Send It Foundation, providing outdoor experiences to young adults battling cancer.

ABOUT

I am Audrey Schou, PHN, MSN, RN and am currently a Kaplan Nursing Faculty Consultant for the West Coast of the US. I work with close to 80 nursing programs in guiding them as partners with Kaplan Integrated Testing and i-Human Patients virtual simulation.

I have been a nurse for over 40 years (not to give too many hints about my age), and I have been working with Kaplan for almost 18 of those years! As I grew up in Connecticut, I knew as far back as I could remember that I was going to be a nurse. I read the whole series of books called Cherry Ames―now I am dating myself!―I always had my plastic stethoscope and band aids at the ready, and planned on traveling the world on a hospital ship.

How did you get started in your career and how has it evolved?

Most of my childhood dreams came true―except for that hospital ship. I graduated from Cornell University in New York, took my board exams, and got in my car to ski my way to California. I never turned that VW around and am now firmly a Californian. 

I worked in a small local hospital doing med/surgical nursing, then transitioned to public health on the streets of San Francisco during some very exciting years.  I then did a big pivot, as nurses do, and shifted into maternal-child nursing, and labor and delivery. But at the root of all of my practice seemed to be my passion for education.

I developed a prenatal education program, started my own business, and did consulting with the public health department. I realize now that I had finally found my comfort zone in nursing as I was always eager to teach anything about health care to anyone who would listen.

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

Can you tell us about your role at Kaplan?

I joined Kaplan as an NCLEX instructor teaching nursing students how to prepare to be successful on the NCLEX.  Although I actually knew quite little about a computer adaptive test at the time, I knew how to teach, so for my interview/audition to teach for Kaplan I taught my audience how to deliver a baby! Every detail! I have heard many stories over the years of how my audition was memorable.

It was in this role as a Kaplan NCLEX instructor that I got to travel to many states and, eventually the world, working with nurses looking to emigrate and practice nursing in the United States. It wasn’t the hospital ship that I had imagined, but it was a wonderful opportunity teaching students from all over the world with such varied backgrounds―especially in their nursing education. To this day I am still in touch with many of those nurses happily practicing all over the USA.

How are you preparing the next generation of nurses for the Next Generation NCLEX?

For the past 9 years, I’ve taught NCLEX classes and developed an expertise not only in the algorithm of the test, but also the varied Kaplan resources that ensured the student success in this process. As Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) approaches in 2023, again Kaplan will be in the forefront in preparing our nursing students in the rigors of this hurdle. As the complexity of nursing has advanced significantly in my career, so has the measurement of a safe and effective newly licensed nurse. The state boards of nursing have done due diligence to ensure each iteration of the RN and PN licensing exams meets the standards of current practice.

As I have seen over the years, a new NCLEX strikes fear in the minds of most nursing educators and is currently one of the more pressing issues that face my cohort of nursing programs. The burden of keeping abreast of the impending changes and how that might alter the trajectory of a nursing curriculum can be daunting.  However, I feel fortunate to have been in this position for several changes in the National Licensing Exam, and know with confidence that once again we, at Kaplan, will be prepared to support both faculty and students to be successful on NGN. This is an opportunity to take stock, reassess, and prepare with the support of a well-prepared Kaplan team. 

We can all take a breath, and know: We Got This!

See more posts by Audrey Schou, MSN, RN.

Becky Oglesby, DNP, RN; Content Product Team (Curriculum)

Nursing was a 2nd career, as my original degree was Elementary Education from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I started a private school that had a combination of 1st & 2nd grades. At the end of the 1st year, I delivered our 3rd child and closed the school. After being foster parents for 6 years, I started on the nursing path of: Nursing Assistant, Associates in Nursing from Mitchell Community College, Bachelor of Nursing from Univ of NC at Greensboro.   I have worked in Medical-Surgical, Telemetry, Observation, and my last favorite was Orthopedic.  After obtaining a Masters in Nursing Education from Gardner-Webb University, I began teaching at Queens University, saw and accepted a position for a Kaplan Nurse Consultant, and then completed a Doctorate in Nursing Education from Gardner-Webb. 

ABOUT

Nursing was a 2nd career, as my original degree was Elementary Education from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I started a private school that had a combination of 1st & 2nd grades. At the end of the 1st year, I delivered our 3rd child and closed the school. After being foster parents for 6 years, I started on the nursing path of: Nursing Assistant, Associates in Nursing from Mitchell Community College, Bachelor of Nursing from University of NC at Greensboro.  

I have worked in Medical-Surgical, Telemetry, Observation, and my last favorite was Orthopedic.  After obtaining a Masters in Nursing Education from Gardner-Webb University, I began teaching at Queens University, saw and accepted a position for a Kaplan Nurse Consultant, and then completed a Doctorate in Nursing Education from Gardner-Webb. 

What is your particular area of expertise?

Making reports come alive. I love to color code the reports and use Excel to draw a picture of how students’ used/misused/did not use the resources in order to be successful.  

NCLEX prep. I have seen first-hand how our Decision Tree works and can transform a student’s thinking, in order to be ready for the NCLEX licensure.

Playing Candy Crush! (Almost to level 1000)

Who or what experience inspired you to pursue a career in Nursing? 

When we were foster parents, I had a child who continually had ear infections, and we went to the doctor frequently.  We had an assigned nurse from the Social Services and she was always so friendly, great with the kids and gave me wonderful tips. I had never had a nurse influence me so much with her gentleness and laughter. It was after that, I stepped away from fostering and entered nursing school. 

EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

How long have you worked for Kaplan and what drew you to your current role?

I started Kaplan as a Nurse Consultant in 2010. At the time, I was 1 of 3 consultants and had the east section of the US. It was wonderful to travel to so many states and see how faculty and students differ in their teaching and learning. It was an extremely satisfying experience in helping faculty understand how and why the Kaplan program works, if they use it as designed.  After 7 years, an opening on the Curriculum Team became available and I was ready to do more with the product, helping with the test prep behind the scenes.

Do you have a particularly notable student success story to share?

A student success story that was so exciting to watch unfold involved a student who was the valedictorian of his graduating nursing class. At the time, he did not have the money for a review course and since being the valedictorian, he felt he was ready for the exam. To his surprise, he failed. I talked with him about our Review Course and once he was enrolled, I walked him through exactly how to use it. He needed to take the exam within a month, so I told him to lock himself in his bedroom and use the course as instructed. He did and passed with 75 questions!  

INSIGHTS INTO THE NURSING EDUCATION INDUSTRY

In your opinion, what is the number one thing that sets Kaplan apart in the industry?

At Kaplan, we have a true passion to help students. All of our teams go above and beyond to help a student from minor to major things.  We have a plethora of testimonials from students stating how Kaplan helped them to pass the NCLEX exam. Even some stated they used another source, only to fail, and then used Kaplan to pass with a minimal number of questions.  With the millennial generation, they have a different style of learning and our resources allow them flexibility to learn in various methods. Our passion is to keep up with the changing needs of our students and support them all along the way.

What do you think the future of nursing education and test prep will look like? 

The changes have already started and faculty and students have learned to adapt. An older saying of “Nursing is always changing” is exactly true. Never be surprised with changes. Online teaching is here to stay, whether that is face-to-face or recordings. The fast access to knowledge is welcoming to the millennials especially and to those of us who have technologically adapted.  Stories, virtual simulations, and gaming will be included in the future of nursing education. 

ADVICE

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

There are 2 quotes that I love:

“Success is not a goal, success is a by-product”  

- Friday Nights Lights

“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living.” 

- Gus McCrae, Lonesome Dove

And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

It is important to be patient and listen to others.  Also, take time to listen to outdoor noises...the wind, the incoming rain, the deer walking in the forest. Since we moved from a busy city to a very rural place in West Virginia, I see how I missed many things that are essential to a peaceful life.

See more posts by Becky Oglesby, DNP, RN; Content Product Team (Curriculum)

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NCLEX® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names are the property of the respective trademark holders, none of whom endorse or are affiliated with Kaplan.

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