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PVCC Student-Athlete Success

This week exemplary student-athlete success is “on my mind.” Please take a look at my interview with PVCC Athletics Director Christina Hundley. My thanks to our coaches, athletic department staff, faculty mentors, and the myriad of academic and student affairs support staffs – all of who contribute to making Puma athletics a wonderful success .


Learning Centered Lessons from the World of Health Care

As I previewed in an earlier edition of What’s on My Mind, this post provides additional reflections on how my lens of learning-centeredness shaded my view of the recovery process while in the ICU. In terms of context, we have identified the following student success characteristics that must be present in a learning-centered college: establishment of meaningful relationships with peers/faculty/staff; knowledge to navigate our systems and processes; a clearly established goal orientation; knowledge of how best to learn; and a connection/identification with the college. With this context in mind, I reflect on whether like attributes occur in the hospital setting. Perhaps I learned some lessons that can be translated to PVCC and allow us to better focus on our work.

So here are my observations and reflections from my time in the ICU contextualized in learning-centeredness…

My level of anxiety was dramatically reduced the more the doctors and attending nurses provided me information and a clear understanding of what to expect next. Effective narrative was presented in enough detail and in lay-person terminology for me to mentally norm the experience.

Within one day of the surgery, I was encouraged to be self-directed in my healing process. Clear expectations were established around breathing exercises, daily hallway walks, and decision-making around meds. Nurses, especially, held me accountable.

Even in the hectic and somewhat frenetic environment of the cardiovascular ICU, relationship building was the foundation of all my care. In almost all cases, an effort was made to connect with me as a person not as a patient. Even though I was just one of many patients, this personal connect made a huge positive difference during recovery.

Much of the time during the first three to four days, I felt a strong sense of “otherness” – (dictionary defined as the quality or fact of being different). I simply could not do the most fundamental life functions that virtually everyone around me performed without thinking. Unable to get out of bed without a “spotter,” walking without the assistance of a walker, and an inability to even reach overhead to adjust a pillow. In hindsight it is easy now to accept that this was a temporary stare of “otherness” clearly connected to physical difference with all of those around me. Nonetheless this feeling of otherness created a personal resentment, frustration, and embarrassment as well as a drive, sometimes misguided, to accelerate and figure out how to transition to a state of “sameness.”

Finally, during the most difficult times of recovery, I felt a very reassuring and comforting level of attention. At the same time as the doctors rotated out there was a subtle feeling of abandonment with my mental tapes playing “hey you got me into this but now you are off to see other patients and other duties.” I felt very alone.

Perhaps I have been at PVCC too long, but throughout my hospital stay, I really did ponder and reflect on the characteristics of a learning centered-college while experiencing the health care world. I thought deeply about: the importance of relationships, how our students who feel a sense of more permanent “otherness” survive, how we communicate learning expectations and the import of instilling self-directedness in our students. Perhaps most importantly, because learning is very much a social and human endeavor, I reflected on how important it is that we remain keenly aware of student affect throughout the learning process.

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