University of Louisiana at Lafayette faculty serve as teachers as well as mentors and guides into the professional world.
In some cases, they can pull students back from the brink.
Nursing instructor Arielle St. Romain was recently honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty for her efforts and impact as an educator.
A student nominated St. Romain for the award, saying:
“I was going into my medical-surgical semester, and I was truly defeated...I was burnt out, I was upset, I felt like a failure. I needed someone in my life to make me remember why I had chosen nursing in the first place.
“Fate, as it seemed, pushed Mrs. St. Romain into my life. Quickly I realized that this vibrant, amazing role model, clinical leader, and instructor was exactly the kind of nurse I wanted to be one day. She expected nothing but the best from her students; not only the best care we could deliver, but also the best versions of ourselves we could give to her.”
Those are standards St. Romain holds in her own life, earning two degrees online through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette while practicing as a clinical nurse before joining the faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Becoming a Ragin’ Cajun
St. Romain is a nurturer by nature and says she grew up caring for her younger siblings.
“I loved taking care of people,” she says. “I wanted to translate that compassion and caring for others into a career.”
Six months after earning her associate’s in nursing and beginning her nursing career at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, St. Romain began looking at programs that would allow her to complete her bachelor of science in nursing online.
“With my undergraduate work, I’d probably taken a handful of classes online,” she says. “I enjoyed them and found them manageable, so online was definitely not a hesitation for me. It definitely fit my lifestyle better than going traditionally.”
She says she chose UL Lafayette’s RN to BSN program because it was affordable and 100-percent online.
“I could do that as a new nurse working 12-hour night shifts,” she says. “I could make my schedule for work and then plan out assignments for the week. It decreased my stress level being able to map out my time like that. I couldn’t have done that if I went the traditional route.”
She says she quickly adapted to the University’s learning management system, Moodle, and easily understood where to find resources instructors used for their online courses. She also found inspiration for her next professional step.
“I ended up taking a leadership course, and the skills they taught in that class, I was able to translate into my professional career. It really made an impact on me,” St. Romain says.
From BSN to MSN
Having spent part of her childhood going to law school night courses with her dad, St. Romain says she always knew she wanted an advanced degree. Her experience in the UL Lafayette RN to BSN program helped her decide where.
“I had such a good experience in the BSN program. The faculty were so caring; they constantly reached out to us and made sure we were able to handle our classes, that everything was going OK,” she says. “That really cemented my decision to continue on with the MSN program here.
Through the Master of Science in Nursing online program, St. Romain says she gained research, business, and leadership skills in addition to advanced practice nursing knowledge.
“I loved my research classes and learning what goes into conducting research,” she says. “On a leadership side, I gained new insights into being a leader in healthcare, how important it is to know the business side of healthcare, and how that can influence care on patients. I took all those skills and was able to translate them professionally.”
St. Romain leveraged those skills to become director of nursing at Bayou Vista Community Care Center shortly after completing her MSN in 2017.
But she still had another professional milestone on her list.
Preparing Future Nurses
When she was still preparing for her ASN, a peer asked St. Romain if she’d ever considered becoming a nursing instructor. It planted a seed and became a goal, but St. Romain said she didn’t expect it to be realized so soon.
“I happened to see UL Lafayette had an opportunity and decided if I’m going to do this, I’m going to make the leap now,” she says.
St. Romain says she was drawn to UL Lafayette as an instructor for some of the same reasons she was drawn in as a student.
“There is such a family atmosphere here. I’ve known some of these faculty members since I was a student. When I came on as a faculty member, they still remembered who I was. That meant a lot to me,” she says.
“The whole atmosphere of this university is so cohesive, everyone seems to care about each other and they want to see you succeed. There’s a huge sense of comradery; it’s amazing to be a part of that.”
St. Romain says it was a big step transitioning from working as a clinical nurse to teaching students the skills they’ll need to use for the rest of their nursing career. Now she’s able to watch nursing students transform as they gain independence and understanding during clinicals.
“It’s like watching your kids grow up; you see them become so independent and you feel so proud,” she says. “That’s probably the greatest thing about this job — knowing I’m making a difference with those nursing students and turning them into the best nurses they can be.”
St. Romain is focusing on the challenge of raising her 2-year-old twins, Peter and Alana, while shaping future nurses. Meanwhile, her husband, Allen, is furthering his education, studying computer information sciences online.
Eventually, St. Romain says, she’ll pursue her doctorate.
“Getting my BSN, getting my master’s, has opened up so many doors and opportunities for me,” she says. “Getting my education is one of my greatest accomplishments besides being a nurse, a mother, and a wife. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
“I don’t want to stop.”
Continue your education and scope of practice through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in nursing. Request information today to learn more.