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Saint Therese partners with Inver Grove Community College

(left to right) Executive Director of Saint Therese of Woodbury Katelyn Nowack, Inver Hills Nursing Student Amy Matthys, Saint Therese of Woodbury Clinical Director Chris Armstrong, Inver Hills nursing student Nick Welisevich, Inver Hills nursing student Hannah Mesmer and Inver Hills nursing student Erica Rgnonti at Saint Therese of Woodbury

Saint Therese of Woodbury was featured in an Inver Hills News blog post dated December 3, 2019.

To read the original post, click here.


Nursing students visit healthcare facilities to study leadership in their field

During fall semester 2019, nursing students in their fifth semester at Inver Hills Community College (INCC) participated in a clinical experience as part of their Nursing Leadership 1 coursework. The students are graduating from INCC this December with their Associate of Science (A.S.) in Nursing; most will continue on to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) via the Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education (MANE) program.

“The Nursing Leadership course is designed to allow students to apply leadership concepts to enhance quality and improve outcomes in a healthcare setting,” said Amy Matthys, MS/MA, RN, nursing faculty at the college. “Each clinical group is assigned a quality topic and a healthcare facility such as Saint Therese of Woodbury and Good Samaritan Society to study the topic in the field. Prior to arriving at the clinical site, the group researches the organizational structure, reviews the literature for best practices and analyzes available data.”

Amy added the nursing students gather further information through observation and inquiry. “The group interviews nursing leaders, considers available informatics and reviews current facility policies and procedures to formulate potential solutions that may impact their quality topic. The goal is to identify best practices and discuss how leaders—at all levels— can impact outcomes. At the end of the semester, each group summarizes and presents their findings to the facility nursing leaders at the clinical sites.”

Amy noted the nursing students realized their role as advocates and leaders (even as novice nurses) while providing fresh eyes and innovative ideas that delighted the nursing program’s clinical partners.

Saint Therese of Woodbury’s perspective…

Saint Therese of Woodbury greatly values the partnership we have with Inver Hills. Not only do we get the opportunity to recruit the skilled nurses that come out of INCC’s program, we get to grow from their ideas.

One program we implemented was based on the student presentations on pain management. Because of this idea, our residents now receive comprehensive treatment of pain from point of admission that even the Minnesota Department of Health has complimented.

Another program we are currently working on is Walking Passport, which was brought forward as an idea from student presentations. This program will encourage residents to ambulate throughout our community and gives us an easy way to track the distance walked. The Walking Passport program is being introduced within our whole community, from independent living to memory and skilled care.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with INCC to strengthen the future leaders of healthcare while simultaneously improving the lives of the seniors we serve.

Katelyn Nowack, LNHA
Executive Director
Saint Therese of Woodbury

Student spotlight: Erica Rgnonti

Originally from Cottage Grove, Erica Rgnonti, 35, graduated from Park Senior High School in 2002. Erica is will graduate from INCC with her A.S. in nursing in December 2019.

Inver Grove nursing student Erica Rgnonti at Saint Therese of Woodbury
Erica Rgnonti at Saint Therese of Woodbury

Erica has plans to continue her education at Metropolitan State University via MANE. The MANE curriculum is designed as a dual-admission Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in nursing program with the option to graduate with an A.S. degree after completion of 75 credits.

Before enrolling at INCC, Erica was a customer service manager at Webb Company. She also flipped houses. She is focused on becoming a registered nurse (RN). She is unsure which branch of nursing interests her the most.

Erica originally chose nursing as her career path because the field has so much variety and flexibility. She also likes that the knowledge she’ll gain will benefit all parts of her life, including caring for her mother as she ages.

Another key factor was that RNs make a good living. Erica and her family live a frugal lifestyle and she hopes to save money and invest in real estate to support her retirement.

Erica has been married eight years. Her husband, Dustin, works as an HP large-format printer specialist. They have two children: Ryland, 6, and Mira, 3. The family also has a Pomeranian named Onyx.

In her free time, Erica loves spending time with her family at home in West St. Paul. She also enjoys home projects and baking sweet treats.

Three words that describe Erica as a nursing student:

Q&A with Erica Rgnonti

Why did you choose nursing as your career path?
I chose nursing because I wanted a profession where there is a good outlook for job opportunities. I love people and I’m interested in healthcare.

What do you like best about the Nursing program at Inver Hills?
I love that the professors have real-life experience and are sincerely dedicated to your professional advancement.

How would you describe your experience at Saint Therese of Woodbury?
Saint Therese of Woodbury is a beautiful facility with a very positive atmosphere. The employees really value teamwork and show appreciation for others. Overall, Saint Therese is a place I could see myself working at in the future.

What is your greatest strength as a future RN?
I am a very passionate person who strives to do my best. I think passion is necessary for any profession and it will be reflected in my care when I start working.

Student spotlight: Hannah Mesmer

Hannah Mesmer, 22, grew up in Eagan, Minnesota. Hannah is a 2015 graduate of the School of Environmental Studies. She is on schedule to graduate from INCC with her A.S. in nursing in December 2019.

Hannah is making plans to transfer to either Metro State or Minnesota State Mankato to complete her B.S.N. through MANE. Her career goals are centered on working in pediatrics at a children’s hospital. She chose pediatrics because she has always enjoyed being around children.

Inver Grove nursing student Hannah Mesmer at Saint Therese of Woodbury
Hannah Mesmer at Saint Therese of Woodbury

“They are playful, honest, and look at the world in a beautiful way,” Hannah said. “Being able to help make their hospital visit more enjoyable and be an advocate for them is what I strive to achieve.”

Hannah’s mom, Monica, works at Nordstrom; her dad, Steve, is a strategic planning consultant for education technology start-ups and chief operating officer at Write the World. Hannah’s sister, Maddy, is majoring criminal justice at INCC.

Hannah enjoys spending time outside—she especially likes hiking. She loves acrylic and watercolor painting; exploring a variety of subjects. Her favorite movie genres are horror and sci-fi. She spends a majority of her free time with friends, family and her two dogs: Pickles, a 7-year-old Yorkshire/schnauzer mix, and Layla, a 2-year-old adopted mutt. Hannah resides with her family in Eagan.

Three words that describe Hannah as a nursing student:

Q&A with Hannah Mesmer

Why did you choose nursing as your career path?
From a young age, I have been interested in the medical field and the different approaches humans have developed to treat themselves. I knew I wanted to have a career in which I could make a difference in people’s daily lives and offer a positive helping hand when they need it most. For me, nursing is the perfect combination of these two things.

What do you like best about the nursing program at Inver Hills?
To describe what I like best about the nursing program at INCC is difficult because there are so many amazing attributes. The instructors have been invaluable resources since the beginning. They truly care about students and want every single one to become true nurses of excellence. Additionally, the community at INCC is outstanding, not only within the nursing program, but throughout the entire college; I have felt nothing but acceptance and support.

How would you describe your experience at Saint Therese of Woodbury?
My experience at Saint Therese has been incredible. Everyone we met with was exceptionally helpful and receptive to our project and the questions we posed. They have previously implemented students’ suggestions for quality improvement and seemed excited for the insights we will provide during our SWOT presentation. It has been an amazing opportunity to apply the knowledge we have gained in the classroom to an actual healthcare facility.

What is your greatest strength as a future RN?
I believe my greatest strength as a future RN is my positivity and ability to connect with others. In my experience, patients often just want to know their concerns and feelings are heard and validated. Through the use of therapeutic communication, you are able to establish a genuine connection and provide holistic nursing care, which is essential to recovery.

Student Spotlight: Nick Welisevich

Nick Welisevich, 33, is a 2004 graduate of Saint Agnes, a private, Catholic high school in his hometown of St. Paul. Nick will earn his A.S. in nursing and graduate from INCC this December.

Inver Grove nursing student Nick Welisevich at Saint Therese of Woodbury
Nick Welisevich at Saint Therese of Woodbury

Nick’s transfer plans include attending Metro State or Minnesota State Mankato to complete a B.S. via MANE or the University of Minnesota to complete a B.S. in nursing. Nick is looking forward to a career in pediatric oncology. His chose this branch of healthcare due to a remarkable experience he had as a patient at Saint Mary’s Hospital (see Q & A below). Before enrolling in the nursing program at INCC, Nick worked as a home health aide and hospice CNA.

Nick’s pastimes and hobbies include building personal computers, snowmobiling at the family cabin in Cumberland and playing soccer. Nick and his wife, Erica, have been married three years. He has a half-brother, Aedon, and a half-sister, Isabel, who is a college student in Ireland. Nick resides with Erica in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul.

Three words that describe Nick as a nursing student:

Q&A with Nick Welisevich

Why did you choose nursing as your career path?
I got into healthcare as the result of picking up a part-time job at an assisted living facility and fell in love with the clientele. I didn’t decide I wanted to be a nurse, however, until I was at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rochester recovering from a second surgery related to my recent cancer diagnosis.

My surgery comprised being opened from the base of my neck all the way down to my pelvic region so doctors could remove 76 infected lymph nodes in my lower back. Needless to say, I was a difficult patient as I was in a tremendous amount of pain.

During my third day of recovery, I met a young girl who had a large portion of her skull removed. She asked me “how I was feeling”. A child who was in a much worse state than I was asking me if I was okay.

In this moment, everything was put in perspective for me. I realized not only do I want to care for people for the rest of my life, but especially children who are dealing with cancer.

What do you like best about the nursing program at Inver Hills?
The instructors. They are on a totally different level than anyone I’ve ever met before.

How would you describe your experience at Saint Therese of Woodbury?
Very welcoming and forthcoming!

What is your greatest strength as a future RN?
I have been told that my bedside manner is a gift that cannot be taught.

Interested in becoming a nurse?

To learn more about the nursing programs available at Inver Hills Community College, contact Diane Elifrits, interim director of nursing: 651.450.3470.