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Nursing professor selected for Kaplan Nursing mentorship program

Monica Dobbins is in her nursing attire with a mask.
Published: Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Monica Dobbins one of 14 nursing faculty in nation to participate in mentorship

EL DORADO, Kan. – When Butler Community College faculty member Monica Dobbins heard she was one of 14 nursing faculty nationwide to participate in a mentoring program, she thought she hadn’t heard the announcement correctly.

“I did a double-take and said, ‘Do you mean 14 in Kansas?’” she asked of Beth Eagleton, associate dean of nursing. “And she said, ‘No, I mean country.’ I didn’t realize I was one of only 14 in the country until it was brought up in the staff meeting.”

Dobbins, who is in her first year on the Butler nursing faculty, was selected earlier in 2020 to participate in Kaplan Nursing’s mentorship program in which mentees are learning and discussing topics such as curriculum development, trends in teaching, overcoming professional challenges, advancements in test preps and much more. 

Kaplan provides various products and services to support nursing schools, including some practice test exams used by Butler’s nursing program to help its students prepare for nursing licensure exams. Kaplan created the mentorship program as an answer to the International Council of Nurses’ and the World Health Organization’s Nursing Now Nightingale Challenge. The purpose of the global Nightingale Challenge is to help develop the next generation of young nurses and midwives.

In asking for nominations, Kaplan Nursing said it was looking for rising star educators. Dobbins said she doesn’t know who nominated her.

To be called a rising star educator in one’s first year of teaching is pretty heady stuff, but it’s an accolade that Dobbins deserves, Eagleton said. 

“She’s so dynamic and passionate about working with patients and students,” said Eagleton, who has sat in on Dobbins’ classes to see her in action. “She brings recent clinical experience and uses that experience to really complete the didactic training.”

Dobbins continues to work about 24 to 36 hours a month as a PRN labor and delivery nurse with Wesley Birth Care Center in Wichita. PRN means she works when needed.

Thanks to a fellow PRN labor and delivery nurse who also teaches at Butler, Dobbins applied for and was accepted to the Butler faculty last year as an associate professor.

When Sabrina Olson spotted the MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) credential on Dobbins’ nametag she asked why she wasn’t teaching and encouraged her switch to full-time teaching.

A native of Miami, Dobbins earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Florida, which uses the concept-based nursing curriculum that Butler’s nursing program is transitioning to.

“Her input from a student perspective has been so valuable in that as well, so we are thrilled,” Eagleton said.

Dobbins earned her master’s degree through the online Western Governors University, since the online option worked best with her and her family’s many moves. Her high school sweetheart and husband, Robert Dobbins III, is an Air Force officer and his duty stations have taken the family to Okinawa, Japan, southern California and now middle America.

Dobbins, who has two daughters ages 8 and 5, has more than 10 years’ experience working with expectant mothers and in labor and delivery units. In Okinawa, she helped provide birth education classes to other active-duty families, volunteered with the Red Cross and worked in the labor and delivery unit of the U.S. military hospital. In California, she also was the head of a Unit Practice Council, which is a formal group that represents each nursing unit and helps in what is known as shared governance in making frontline decisions.

As part of the Kaplan Nursing mentorship program, Dobbins will be on the frontline of learning about new concepts and changes happening in nursing education as well as in nursing licensure exams, also known as nursing boards.

“It’s rigorous testing,” Dobbins said of the nursing boards. “Even now the current exam is really intense, but research is showing it’s not really preparing nurses as best as we can.” 

The current trend is to move to what is known as an adaptive test that will involve a case study in which the exam questions will adapt to how the test-taker responds. 

“It will expand on their critical thinking and clinical judgment skills,” Dobbins said. 

The participants in the mentorship program meet virtually with members of the Kaplan Now nursing team each month, helping build not only their knowledge but their networking base.

Eagleton thinks Dobbins’ experience, along with being an educator in a program whose nurses play a critical part in rural health care, will enhance the discussions and perspectives shared.

“It’s very prestigious that we have a Butler Community College faculty member who is part of it,” Eagleton said.