The art of teaching and the love of nursing have been parallel passions for Annette Rigby.
Now her love of nursing continues to another generation.
In her 17th year at Meridian Community College as an instructor in the Associate Degree Nursing Program, Annette shares her desire to help others. "In being a nurse, you get to help people when they are happy, sad, fearful and excited."
She's also passed along the love of nursing to her 21-year-old son, Parker, who will graduate next month from the College's ADN Program. "I knew he wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, so I just tried to educate him about all the different areas of practice," Annette said.
"He is the one who picked nursing," she added.
Parker agreed, noting the workings of the human body have always intrigued him. "I also like being hands-on at my job and having interactions with other people,” he said, adding, “I can accomplish all of these things and also try to make a positive impact in someone's life at the same time," Parker said.
As she began her nursing career, Annette discovered her love for educating others. "I found myself spending so much time in the rooms of my patients asking them – and their families and caregivers - questions and trying to teach them as much as I could about their illness or disease process," she said.
So, she returned to college and earned her master's degree in nursing from the University of Southern Mississippi. "I waited for God to open the door into nursing education, and He did," Annette said. The payoff: "Getting to do something I dearly love and get to have more time off to enjoy my family."
MCC's Associate Degree of Nursing Program includes a balance of general education and nursing courses as well as experiences in patient care. Students learn basic nursing techniques in the college laboratory, such as the Simulation Lab on campus and care for patients in affiliated hospitals and other clinical agencies.
This semester brought a seismic change in all ways of the world.
Asked if teaching in this pandemic environment with the coronavirus was difficult, Annette noted it had been a challenge. "However, I feel we were well-prepared because of the 'non-traditional' methods we have offered our students previously to supplement their learning," Annette said.
Nurses are critical thinkers, Annette said. "So, this has been a challenge to sharpen those critical thinking skills, so our students do not suffer."
Parker said his MCC nursing instructors had done a top-notch job providing online lectures, PowerPoint sessions, practice questions and being available to answer questions.
He added, though, "It also feels weird to take a test in your own home."
Parker was a student in Annette's class this semester, "which was fun and challenging," she said. "I expected more from him than my other students … but don't we all when it comes to our own," she said.
He also finds that having your mom as an instructor can be advantageous. "I always have someone there that can answer my questions or give me constructive criticism – which is how I learn best,” he said.
"She gives me good insight on what it's really like to be a nurse," Parker added.
And he gives credit to his other MCC instructors. "They are willing to help you learn and become successful," he said.
The advice Annette gives to her students – including Parker – in this era of the novel virus is to be safe. She tells them, “be educators, change agents. Make a difference in those they come in contact with ways they can prevent and stop the transmission of this virus with the knowledge they have from nursing school."
Parker aspires to ply his nursing skills in the intensive care unit (ICU) arena where patients are in extremely critical conditions. "I enjoy being able to focus on one or two patients and learning about the higher risk medications, ventilators and critical disease processes," he said.
"The ICU is a constant learning environment and always keeps you on your toes," he added.
It's an area and a passion where Parker feels led. After MCC, he plans on working in ICU and enroll in the online bachelor of science in nursing degree at Mississippi College. On top of that, he will work on his critical care registered nurse certification and pursue a doctorate in nursing.
His MCC roots have yielded many benefits. "I have met some lifelong friends that I will get to nurse with for many years to come."