Taking a closer look at the subject matter experts who help create our exams, we are featuring Dr. Terri A. Higdon, RN, the associate professor of nursing for Hopkinsville Community College in Kentucky. Higdon has been a nurse for more than 20 years and has worked in education for more than 10. She graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Union University in Jackson, TN and received a master’s in nursing as an academic nurse educator in 2013 from Murray State University in Kentucky. She has experience in home health, research and development, owning her own business, and public health. For Excelsior, Dr. Higdon wrote items for several of the ECEs: Health Differences Across the Life Span 1, Health Differences Across the Life Span 3, and Essentials of Nursing Care: Health Differences.
Q: What motivated you to pursue a career in nursing?
A: I always excelled at math and science and had a heart for serving others. Nursing seemed like the perfect fit for me.
Q: What are some “hot topics” in the field that are critical for nursing students to learn?
A: Honestly, it seems so simple but communication seems to be a hot topic right now in teaching Fundamentals of Nursing. With the bombardment of smartphones and digital communication, the art of face-to-face communication with fellow students and patients seems to be slipping. I work with students on developing their communication skills with patients: what to say, and how to say it.
Q: Could you briefly share some memorable highlights of your work as a nurse?
A: Graduation/nursing pinning ceremony is always a highlight as an educator. It is the culmination of the students’ years of hard work. Getting to see them succeed and walk across the stage with such pride and dignity absolutely cannot be beat. Many of the students have had to overcome many trials to reach this point and some are escaping situations where they feel stuck. When you work so hard for something and put in your time, heart, and tears, it makes it extremely worthwhile. For me to play even a small part in their journey is a true honor.
Q: How did your professional experience help in developing+ the exams?
A: Nursing exam questions are mainly application questions. Students are given real-life situations where they have to decide what to do. So all of my real-world experiences are used when developing real-world examples of situations they may encounter. One day they will be the nurse at the bedside and they have to know what to do. These questions are to help prepare them for that day.
Q: How did you find the experience of working with Excelsior?
A: It has been a true pleasure. Everyone has been so professional, prompt, organized, and encouraging. I am honored to be a part of the team.
Q: What is the value of ongoing education for those in nursing?
A: Education in nursing gives us more opportunities. Nursing is so broad and has so many different roads that you can take. Education just takes you closer to your dreams of who you want to be as a nurse. It makes us better able to care for our patients and meet their needs.
As a single mother of two, working full-time, and obtaining my master’s degree, I was able to show my children the rewards of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. I was the first to graduate from college in my family and I have been able to provide a nice, stable, rewarding home and life for my children. Nursing and my nursing education has been the avenue that provided me these opportunities.