Educator Spotlight: Laura Acton, WSCC nursing instructor.

December 5, 2021

Educator Spotlight: Laura Acton, WSCC nursing instructor.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.

Educator Spotlight is a presentation of is a presentation of Smith & Eddy Insurance, with offices in Scottville and Manistee, offering discounts for MEA members and school employees.

VICTORY TOWNSHIP – Only teaching at West Shore Community College for over a year now, adjunct nursing instructor, Laura Acton is far from new to the classroom. Acton attended Breckenridge High School, graduating in 1976 and then went on to Saginaw Valley State University for a bachelor of science degree majoring in nursing in 1986. She then received a master’s degree in health education and program management from Central Michigan University in 2003.

“I have been in education for 29 years,” she said. “I was a nurse educator at St. Luke’s Hospital in Saginaw for three years. Then I was the critical care educator at Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw for two years before jumping into management. I then became the director of education at St. Mary’s of Michigan in Saginaw in 2004. I was in that position for nine years. I was responsible for the education not only for nursing, but for the entire hospital. When we moved to Ludington, I worked at West Shore Hospital (now Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital) for three years as their clinical educator.”

In the fall of 2020, Acton starting a new job as an adjunct profession at WSCC.

“I have a clinical group at a local nursing home,” she said. “I teach the fundamentals of nursing clinicals, so my students are just starting their nursing careers. I feel that it is a very important time in their education as nurses. Giving them a strong baseline to grow from is so important. They learn the basics of nursing, including passing medications and therapeutic communication. In addition; giving them confidence and the tools to learn and grow is key. I always tell my students ‘no question is stupid. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The scary nurse is one who doesn’t ask questions.’ My preceptor in my first job as a nurse told me that and I have never forgotten it.  So I pass it along to new nurses in whatever role I held.”

Throughout her career in nursing, Acton has had the opportunity to teach a variety of health and nursing related classes.

“​I have always enjoyed teaching in the nursing settings,” she said. “As a staff nurse early in my career, I taught expectant parent classes, and was the first to volunteer to take on a nursing student or a new employee to precept/train. So to move into staff development from that was natural. In my many roles, I have taught EKG classes, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), preceptor classes, computer classes, and leadership development courses. Adult education is very rewarding and fun.”

Working with her students continues to be Acton’s biggest thrill in teaching and she loves getting to know them through teaching.

“Watching my students learn and grow is my favorite thing about teaching.,” she said. “Here at WSCC especially, watching them gain confidence in themselves as the semester progresses. Sharing my many stories. Stories are a great teaching method.”

Finding nursing as such a rewarding career, Acton has a few pieces of information she likes to share with students or with those looking into nursing as a career.

“I wish that more bright young people would go into nursing,” she said. “The opportunities in nursing are endless, it’s not just bedside nursing as many people think. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it.”

When COVID-19 hit and shutdown so many traditional learning environments, Acton was happy that she could turn to many of her previous experiences to continue to teach her students, even if it wasn’t in as such conventional formatting.

“Last year my clinical at the nursing home only lasted two weeks until there was a COVID outbreak and students weren’t allowed to be there,” she said. “So we had to scramble to develop simulations activities and experiences for the sim labs on campus. That was very challenging, especially for me being a brand new instructor. But, we developed some exceptional learning activities. My background in staff development was a very valuable skill set to have in that situation. The students still had a great learning experience, just in a different setting. In fact, we did a simulation day instead of onsite clinicals this semester to use some of the material we developed for last year and this years students loved it.”

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