Janalee Isaacson - RN Refresher Academy

RN Refresher Academy

Registered nurses who have not been in a clinical setting for a few years still have the heart of a caregiver, but their psychomotor and critical thinking skills may need updating before they again begin patient care. The RN Refresher Academy at JCCC offers RNs that opportunity.

The RN Refresher Academy began in the spring semester of 2005. Since then, more than 200 registered nurses have successfully completed the course. These nurses work in a variety of health care settings, including acute care, outpatient clinics, home care and hospice.

Current class size is limited to only 18 nurses to give each participant the personalized attention they need to quickly and expertly hone their skills.

“Our goal for each nurse who participates in the RN Refresher Academy is to remember what first motivated them to pursue the nursing profession, and to be energized again by the challenge of learning and growing in this dynamic discipline,” said Janalee Isaacson, professor, nursing.

During the first nine weeks of the program, participants meet at JCCC to review anatomy, pathophysiology and pharmacology.  Each week, one particular body system is the focus.

Skill review and practice is also integral to classroom work.  Course participants practice medication administration, phlebotomy, the administration of blood products and other skills before demonstrating their own proficiency in a skill check-off with one of the course faculty members. 

The returning nurses apply this knowledge to the next step of the academy – caring for human patient simulators (HPS) in the Health Care Simulation Center. The center’s simulated patients present signs and symptoms consistent with a specific disease or disorder, and the nurses treat the “patient” as they would in a clinical situation. The difference, of course, as faculty facilitators remind nurses, is that this is a “safe” environment – where participants can try out their skills without doing harm.  The value in the simulation portion of the course is augmented by the debriefing sessions facilitated after each patient-care scenario.

Once the classroom/lab/simulation portion of the course is complete, the nurses are ready to move into a clinical setting where they will provide care alongside faculty from JCCC. During these clinicals, course members will practice the psychomotor and critical-thinking skills necessary for success in the nursing field.

After clinicals, course participants complete an extensive evaluation. That feedback is used to assess and improve the academy each time it is offered. A recent addition to the curriculum, added because of student feedback, was even more content on pharmacology. Guest presentations on specialty areas, such as diabetes, wound care and rheumatology, also were added, Isaacson said.

Students who successfully complete the academy receive a certificate of completion and nine hours of college credit.

“Nurses who return to patient care after being away to raise a family or pursue other professional avenues bring with them a wealth of life experience and perspective,” Isaacson said. “We help them find that area of patient care in which they are able to make a significant and lasting positive impact.”