Enthusiasm is nurse's classroom
ingredient for success

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2006 Healthcare Hero
Lori Giverson

Some people are born to do one special thing. Oswego County BOCES health occupation instructor Lori Giverson is one such person. The special thing? Nursing—both students and patients alike.

Whether it's nurturing a sick person back to health or lifting a student out of academic trouble, Giverson said she is committed to "helping" any and everybody get by their obstacles. Just call her a modern-day "Mother Goose."

"I love nursing," she said simply, "and I love to teach nursing and am very enthusiastic about it, which, I think, spreads to my students." Giverson, who took over as primary nurse educator at BOCES four years ago, said this pro-active approach in the classroom has proven to be more than effective at passing her students through a stiff state nursing assistant certification exam.
The class, "Nursing Assistance," is a morning seminar that teaches students the theories and practices associated with nursing. It's all hands-on, just like any other BOCES program.

The most difficult part of the job, according to Giverson, is getting students through an unforgiving state nursing exam held every April that fails test-takers for making a single mistake.
The test is comprised of a five-part written exam and a "scenario" segment, where students physically demonstrate their ability to administer "nursing care" on dummies in the BOCES nursing lab. This is the tearjerker, according to Giverson. Despite the challenge, her students have been perfect so far. "We passed every single student the past two years," said Giverson, who handles each of her 30 students on a one-on-one basis. "We do that by practicing a lot and making honesty our No. 1 rule to go by."

While practice makes perfect, according to Giverson, she said enthusiasm is really the glue that holds her classroom together. "My excitement about nursing really rubs off on students," she said. "I'm not an in-your-face educator and I'm not always very dictating with how students handle their tasks, but I always make sure they know that nursing centers on responsibility and honesty."

Giverson also said her programs' perfect success rate is a selling point for the class. "Word of mouth seems to spread a real positive message about my class," she said. "Students say 'Hey, Mrs. Giverson really knows what she's talking about if all these kids are passing,' and then they realize how worthwhile the program really is."

Giverson also teaches "Horizons to Health Careers"— a program, as the name implies, that introduces students to various occupations in health and medical fields. Using a BOCES van, Giverson drives students to medical professionals in Oswego, including those at the hospital, and private practitioners such as physical therapists and dentists. "The idea is to give students a taste of what's out there in the world of professional healthcare," she said. "I found that this program is great for anyone who's interested but not committed to the industry."

Giverson also dedicates her time to an extra-curricular activity, "Health Occupations Students America," a competitive after-school activity that challenges health occupation students nationwide on a variety of skills. The four students who participated last year submitted entries in medical terminology, spelling and a "compelling" research paper on the gastro-intestinal bypass operation. Three of those four students who participated at HOSA last year qualified for the national competition in Nashville, Tenn. Giverson said the club was available until the '60s, but died due to lack of funding, and all she really did was start it back up.

Like anything that costs money, however, Giverson said she has trouble getting the funds necessary to make it all possible, especially the trips to national competition. "Finding sponsors has been very difficult," said Giverson, who has used fundraising and her empathetic voice to procure money for trips. "So we might only go every other year (to nationals now)." She said students will still have the ability to compete at the regional level this year at Windham.

Giverson graduated in 1979 from Champlain Physicians Hospital, earning her residence nursing diploma from the hospital's school of nursing. Giverson said she started a nurse tour of the East Coast after graduation, serving in Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio, practicing recovery care, pediatrics, ambulatory care and nursing home duties, "all with nothing but my RN license from New York."

In 1990, Giverson and family packed up and relocated to Mexico, N.Y. In the next decade, she would go from substitute nurse to primary occupational instructor at Oswego County BOCES, earning her primary nursing degree in 1997, her teaching certificate in 2001 and her Bachelor of science in 2002. Donna Donabella, director of Workforce Development at Oswego BOCES and Giverson's supervisor, wrote that "her dedication to the field of healthcare as an educator is unmatched. The students who come out of her programs are top-notch and display a high degree of academic standards and professional ethics. I can think of no other health occupation educator more deserving of this award."