5 Surprising Reasons a Nurse Has Taught with Digital Curriculum for 9 Years

HealthCenter21 is real-world learning. This is taking students beyond high school. This is teaching them how they will be trained tomorrow.

Carla Toles-Anthony
Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center

Like most health science instructors, Carla Toles-Anthony worked as a nurse for years before becoming a full-time educator.

Unlike most health science instructors, she’s helped her students succeed for almost a decade with a digital curriculum system.

Why does that make her unique?

Carla’s approach to education includes a wide range of teaching strategies that help all of her students learn.

Even better, her teaching style prepares students for a career right after her class or an advanced post-secondary degree.

Altogether, Carla accomplishes a lot in her classes. It’s a direct result of why she got into teaching in the first place — to prepare students to be the next generation of health care professionals.

This is why Carla has used a digital curriculum system to teach those students for nine straight years.

1. Teaching Future Nurses How to Work the Right Way

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As a veteran nurse, Carla has taught other nurses for her whole career — long before she became a professional teacher.

The experience of teaching nurses on-the-job made Carla want to become a full-time instructor.

In general, Carla noticed that she had to teach a lot of other nurses some basic procedures that they should have known. And while these procedures may sound minor at first, they’re mission critical when it comes to saving someone’s life.

“In our society, many people pretend that they have these skills and knowledge, but they don’t admit it because they’re afraid,” Carla says. “They’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs if someone finds out they don’t know how to do something. So they pretend.”

This concept of “pretending” in the health care industry has stuck with Carla to this day.

Specifically, she recalls working with a new nurse who had to record the blood pressure of a patient one day.

The new nurse recorded the patient’s blood pressure as 120/70 — completely normal.

But Carla found a major problem with that.

They worked in a cardiac unit.

Quickly putting two and two together, Carla asked the new nurse if she knew how to properly take blood pressure.

She didn’t.

Carla taught the new nurse how to do everything right then and there. It may have only taken a few minutes, but the impact of that brief education was enormous. 

“Think of all the lives that she may have compromised because she was documenting something that wasn’t true,” Carla says. “If my blood pressure is 200/100 and someone doesn’t know that’s high — if they don’t know the rationale behind the task — that’s dangerous. We can’t have people like that.”

That, in addition to Carla’s raw experience as a nurse, made her become a teacher way before she ever set foot in a classroom.

Now that she’s in a classroom, Carla uses digital curriculum and other strategies to prep her students for real-world work environments.  

2. Teaching Future Nurses in the Classroom

When Carla became a nurse, she loved the time that she spent with patients.

But as her career moved forward, the priorities of health institutions — especially hospitals — changed dramatically.

“In the early 90’s, everybody was doing these time studies,” Carla says. “We’re just going to say that because Joe could do something in five minutes, it should only take Susie five minutes too. That’s how long it should take.”

The resulting crunch in “time management” pressed Carla and her colleagues to perform tasks quickly instead of correctly.

That’s rarely in the best interest of a patient, especially when they don’t know what’s going on with their treatment. 

“I got into teaching because I like for people to be informed,” Carla says. “Nursing no longer allows me to do that just because of the way things are.”

That’s another big reason Carla migrated to full-time teaching from full-time nursing. In the classroom, she can take her time, teach properly, and make sure students understand material.

She doesn’t have to rush to perform life-critical tasks every day.

Her methodology is effective, too. It’s what helps her prep Ohio health science students for their most important state certification.

3. Prepping Students for the Ohio State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA)

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Carla works out of Columbus, Ohio, which doesn’t use third-party certifications for health care occupations.

Instead, they use the Ohio certification called State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA).

The STNA is a big deal because it immediately qualifies students to work in health care and there’s a huge demand for health care workers in the Columbus area.

“Students can work immediately after passing the exam,” Carla says. “We have people crying out, ‘Please give me as many STNAs as you can give. I need them all.’”

The exam itself totals 79 questions with 90 minutes for students to complete. In total, Carla has about 52 students at her school go through the STNA certification classes every semester.

But with a digital curriculum, Carla has been able to turn her prep classes into something more.

“Where HealthCenter21 helps for the STNA is teaching beyond what students need to know for the test,” Carla says.

This fact — along with Carla’s passion for teaching correctly instead of quickly — has made HealthCenter21 a valuable part of her classroom for multiple courses.

She still uses a textbook.

But the digital curriculum helps students focus, learn, and achieve in the classroom — much more than just a textbook.

4. Streamlining the Classroom

Carla’s varied approach to teaching relies heavily on lecture, practice, and reinforcement.

Digital curriculum doesn’t provide all of these elements entirely — but it does help when used in conjunction with other classroom resources.

“I supplement the textbook with HealthCenter21 because you have videos and you have games and you have guided notes for students to use,” Carla says. “You just have so many different strategies that you embed into the program.”

Even better, the digital curriculum mitigates the problems that Carla used to encounter with textbooks.

“Gone are the days where you didn’t know a word, so you looked it up,” Carla says. “The thing that I like about HealthCenter21 is there’s always a hyperlink that helps define a word and also gives an audible definition.”

Those features help keep students on-track and learning by answering questions without forcing students to change gears and use another resource. 

“The importance is taking away the distraction that’s around you,” Carla says. “Immersing yourself in HealthCenter21 gets you so much more out of it than if you just read.”

This strategy has helped Carla educate and manage about 210 students per marking period.

Whether they’re in an introductory class or a STNA prep course, HealthCenter21 helps Carla’s students learn and achieve more.

This is true even for lessons that Carla knows aren’t directly related to health care — but students need to know them all the same. 

5. Turning Students into Well-Rounded Individuals

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One of Carla’s biggest advantages to using a digital curriculum has been rounding out her students’ education.

They may know health care procedures. They may be ready for a certification exam. They may have everything they need to thrive in a health care environment.

But do they have the basic knowledge of the working world?

Carla found that many didn’t — so she set out to change that.

“Students don’t get financial literacy,” Carla says. “So I added financial literacy in my class. I don’t want students to get a paycheck and not know how their paycheck is structured.”

That kind of education applies to students universally. Even those who don’t go into the workforce right away will have to know how to read and understand a paycheck.

She knows she has to go the extra mile in her classroom too, though. Those same students who move onto advanced degrees are going to have a very different year after they graduate than those who go straight into the workforce.

“We know that when our students leave us and go to college, they are not going to get the hand-holding that they get in high school,” Carla says. “HealthCenter21 is real-world learning. This is taking them beyond high school. This is teaching them how they will be trained tomorrow.”

With that kind of instruction, Carla can adequately educate the range of students she has in the class. Some will start working right after graduation. Others may go to community college. Others may go to four-year universities.

But no matter what they choose, they’ll be ready for the next chapter of their lives.

With that accomplished, Carla truly educates and informs the next generation of health care professionals.

Try HealthCenter21 for Yourself

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Do you want to get results for your students like Carla?

She’s been using HealthCenter21 for almost 10 straight years, and she’s worked wonders for the students in her classroom.

You can shoot for those kinds of results yourself with HealthCenter21 on your side!

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