Wednesday, May 27, 2020

New Medical Assisting Program

Get ready to take your place in the fastest growing health care profession in the nation with the new Medical Assisting program at Vol State. You’ll train to work in a doctor’s office or a healthcare clinic. That can eventually lead to a career in management and administration. Duties of the medical assistant include, but are not limited to: recording case histories, taking vital signs, giving injections, EKG work, help with lab testing, and assisting the doctor in the setup and performance of minor office surgeries. Vol State offers a two-year associate of applied science degree that can prepare you for entry level work in healthcare. Best of all, Vol State is a proven leader in healthcare education in Tennessee. Adults who don’t already have a college degree may be able to attend tuition-free with TN Reconnect.  Apply now, classes start in August. Visit for details.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Considering College? Join a Virtual Info Session

To support you through the enrollment process, we are offering virtual sessions on Admissions, Financial Aid, Academic programs, TN Reconnect and Dual Enrollment. This is your opportunity to learn and ask questions from the comfort of your home. Sessions will be offered weekly and continue throughout the summer. Registration is required:

CARES Act Funds

Vol State has initiated the payment process for CARES Act disbursements. As this process is underway, please be aware that qualifying students may see payments applied to their account statements and then disbursements (when it is issued to the student) once the process is complete. This is all part of the multi-step process to issue these emergency aid payments. Please be patient as this will take some time – payments will not be immediate. Additional information is posted at Please also continue to submit your CARES Act questions by emailing Responses will be provided within 1-2 business days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Graduation Profile: Anne Proctor

Anne is a Tennessee Reconnect student who attended Vol State 37 years ago and has come back to get a degree in Business Management. During her first year in college, she ran into hardship that would change her life forever. Now she is preparing to graduate.
“I went for about a year and a half and my mom and I were in a car wreck. My mom died in the accident, which lead me to stop going to Vol State. I then got married, had a family, and got a job as a school secretary.”
When Tennessee Reconnect came along, she saw the perfect opportunity to go back to school to further her education and pursue a new career.
“It seemed a little harder when I first went then it has been now. It has to do with the fact that I have life experience and more maturity, but it is different doing online classes. You have to be more of a self-starter.”
With only ten credits to complete, Anne has been doing online classes at Vol State for a year and a half.
“I had a goal to make better grades when I went back, and I have kept a 4.0. It has been a challenge. The hardest part for me was restarting my brain to take classes and just figuring out how to study.”
In Anne’s free time, she likes to do volunteer work. She teaches 4-Hers how to sew, is a Tennessee Promise mentor, and does ministry services at prisons. Additionally, she likes to bike, read, and hike.
“It has been a blessing.”
Anne encourages people eligible for Tennessee Reconnect to take the opportunity.
“The first time I was there, I was in the middle of classes and my mom died. People there were so sweet, helpful, and understanding. When I went back, it was the same kind of community. Everybody has gone above and beyond to help me get my degree.”
She also advices to just go for it. Ask questions to your advisors and professors. “No one is going to do it for you. Be an advocate for yourself.”
After graduation, she is going to do adult online classes at Trevecca in hopes to land a job in Business Management and get away from the strict desk environment. “My goal is to use it to help somebody else.”

Monday, May 11, 2020

Graduate Profile: Deidre Miller

Deidre Miller is a nurse. It’s a profession that has become even more challenging recently. Miller isn’t put off by challenges. She gets to the heart of things.

“It’s a rewarding job. You get to take care of people,” she said. “The best part is seeing patients come around and know that you were a part of their recovery.”

The twenty-nine year-old from Gainesboro is an LPN surgical nurse at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The major disruptions to the medical system recently led to a furlough for her. She just went back to work last week. “I don’t ever stop. When I was furloughed, I was going crazy, because I have to be doing something 24/7.”

But she is keeping busy doing something she would not have imagined. “I’ve been home schooling a 14 year-old and that’s been challenging. My aunt passed away in 2014 and I have her 23-year-old and 14-year-old kids living with me.”

The tragedy is a family rallying point. “My grandpa helped me set up a home we could live in. It’s very rewarding to be able to be a role model to them. I can never fill her shoes, but I can help them. I have had to grow up very fast. We’re neighbors with all my family. I have a really good support system.”

Caring for kids while going to school is difficult, but especially so for a 23-year-old without experience as a parent. “I’ve learned I needed them as much as they needed me and I didn’t realize it.”

And there was still the issue of school and her career. She took classes at Vol State in Livingston and Cookeville while caring for the children. Her goal was to become a Registered Nurse. “I’ve been an LPN for ten years. I was going to Vol State and trying to decide which nursing school to attend. So, when I found out that Vol State was starting an RN Nursing program, I immediately applied.”

Miller is not only in the first class of Vol State nursing students, she is the class president. And all of that during a crazy semester of change due to COVID-19. “I have taken every concern to our faculty and staff and they have responded. It’s been tough with the COVID-19 issues. Everything switched to online. Nursing is very difficult to understand and it’s hard if you can’t easily ask questions. They have amazing faculty and staff in that program. They have been there through it all. We’re going to be done in August and I am going to take the RN exam as soon as I can. I’m ready to get it under my belt.”

In the meantime, she is helping 14 year-old Kiara finish the school year. Twenty-three year old Haley is also a Vol State student, taking classes through Livingston and Cookeville.”

The medical world is likely to continue to be challenging for quite some time. Deidre says she just wants to be where the action is. “I would like to be a float nurse or work in the emergency department. You never know what you are going to get.”

Friday, May 8, 2020

Adult Peer Mentors Needed

Mentoring opportunity for Adult Learner studentsApply to be a 2020-2021 Pioneer Connections Peer Mentor for an opportunity to support fellow Adult Learner students through Fall & Spring semesters.  Those who qualify and are selected as Peer Mentors are provided a scholarship. Email to learn more and apply!  More info on the program here:

Thank you to the 2019-2020 Pioneer Connections Peer Mentors!  These amazing students (pictured above) assisted fellow Adult Learners throughout Fall and Spring – supporting with dedication.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Students Use Zoom to Discuss Research

Poster sessions are a visual way for science students to share what they have learned in a class project. Students put their research together in a poster format and then talk to attendees about their project. So, what do you do when no one is allowed on campus? Jerrod Shipman and Chrysa Malosh turned to Zoom, which has the ability to do breakout rooms. That allows participants to visit various small groups. I recently had the opportunity to do a virtual poster session for their ISCI 1030, Science, Society and Sustainability classes. It was remarkably comfortable and fun.

These were the research project topics:

Breakout Room 1: Elements of Green Architecture.  

Breakout Room 3: National Parks System

Breakout Room 4: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Cars for Transportation and Energy Usage.

Breakout Room 6: The Effects of Meat Production on the Environment

Breakout Room 7: Doomsday Clock

Breakout Room 8: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Breakout Room 9: Hydraulic Fracturing

Breakout Room 10: Eretmochelys Imbricata (Hawksbill Sea Turtle)

Lauren Nutter said of her research on the National Parks System: “I didn’t realize how much government oversight there was keeping things running smoothly.” She and partner Kayleen Cardle showed how the various parks impact CO2 levels in their geographic area.

One project took a look at how a grass roof can save energy and help the environment in other ways. Another explored the impact of meat production on the environment.

Anna Pease and William Seiling explored Hydraulic Fracturing. At one point in their explanation one of Anna’s kids came in the room. It’s just another one of those fun Zoom moments that have made life more interesting lately. Anna handled it with ease.

I could fill pages with the interesting things that I learned. Kudos to the instructors and students for great projects and an imaginative way of presenting them. It’s a testament to all that we are learning about online education these days.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Vol State Graduate Describes Working in COVID-19 Isolation Care Unit

Vol State graduates are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. Respiratory Care professionals are especially important. Kim Christmon, Director of the Vol State Respiratory Care program, recently had an opportunity to talk to one of her graduates, Evan Blair, about her work with COVID-19 patients in a local hospital. 

How has your role been beneficial in-patient care?
I am a part of a team that works in the isolation critical care team at my facility. Many of these patients that we see in our unit have trouble breathing, which makes my role as the respiratory therapist vital. My role consists of placing these patients on oxygen, giving breathing treatments if needed, having the patient lie on their stomach to help them oxygenate better, and in more serious cases, I am there to assist with placing a breathing tube and putting them on a ventilator. To treat patients that need mechanical ventilation requires specific knowledge of the ventilator settings and how these settings affect the lungs. 

What does it feel to be on the front lines of the COVID-19 response? How have your days been different than before? 

To be honest, it’s hot and it’s frightening. There is now only one entrance/exit to the hospital and everyone has to check in and get their temperature recorded. I go to work in different clothes than I work in, and then I change into hospital scrubs. In our negative-pressure isolation unit, I am the only Respiratory Therapist during my shift; and while I know my co-workers are just a phone call way, and despite the amazing nurses and physicians on my team, I feel alone. Upon entering the unit, I am in the yellow zone, I put on a mask and a first pair of gloves that would be my ‘hands. I put on a white suit to cover my clothes and shoes as well as a hair cover. I wear all these things all day, except when eating or using the bathroom. Upon entering the patient care area, the red zone, I also wear a face shield and second pair of gloves that I change between patient visits. It has been difficult to adapt to all the PPE that is required to keep me safe, and my hair is soaked from sweat by the end of every shift. This virus makes me fearful because I see firsthand how quickly some of these patients deteriorate. It isn’t just the elderly, but people of all ages. I am fearful that I may unknowingly bring it home to my family. 

How has it affected you mentally? 

My anxiety is at an all-time high, and I am physically and mentally exhausted by the end of each shift. I don’t rest well anymore, as these are some of the sickest patients I have ever worked with. I find myself reliving my shifts in my dreams, waking up anxious and soaked in sweat, trying to figure out what more I can do to help these patients. 

Do you believe your education equipped you to be able to help the patients? 

Absolutely! I wouldn’t be able to do my job without my knowledge from the Respiratory Program at Vol State. When going through school five years ago, I couldn’t imagine standing where I am now in this isolation unit, but it is because of my instructors that I can maneuver through each situation. 

Do you feel like the hospital has given you all the equipment and safety precautions you need to keep you safe? 

I feel like our facility has gone above and beyond to make sure we have the equipment and PPE that is needed. Our administrative team had a plan in place well before Tennessee had any COVID-19 cases. They were prepared to have certain areas of the hospital set up as negative pressure units so that the air would not cross-contaminate other areas of the facility. Having a plan early allowed us to be prepared for any potential scenarios 

Do you feel like the staff work in teams, and does that help you care for these very sick patients? 

Our staff has always worked well as a team, but over the last two months everyone has taken teamwork to the next level. Everyone does things that aren’t necessarily in their typical daily duties, and that makes it easier to care for these patients, knowing you have these people to lean on when you need help.  

Do you feel that your role is appreciated? 

I 100% feel that my role is appreciated. I have worked with some of the nurses and doctors for years, but never as closely as I do now. I feel like my opinion matters when it comes to what we do and how we treat these patients. They help me where they can, and I help them - we are one cohesive unit.