Nursing is about helping others. So it’s no surprise that Kathleen Marollo finds herself helping patients at CNY Cardiology in Utica, where she works as a nurse practitioner, and also guiding students as clinical instructor and coordinator at SUNY Poly as they make their way into the field of nursing.
She didn’t dive into the academic world blindly, but got her feet wet first by teaching several adjunct nursing classes at SUNY Poly before joining the staff full time a year and a half ago. Before that, she spent 34 years in practice, working in hospitals.
“This is a totally different world,” she says. “I was so glad I taught as an adjunct before this, because I’ve always been an intensive care unit and cardiology nurse my whole career. As an adjunct, I did some clinical classes and a position opened up because the program is getting bigger, and they needed a clinical coordinator.”
She’s also familiar with both sides of a SUNY Poly classroom. During her time on campus studying to be a nurse practitioner in 2001, a dozen students were in her class. Last May, three dozen graduated from the nursing program at SUNY Poly, and more than 50 are slated to graduate at the end of this spring semester. Those students now rely on her as they make their way through the nursing education program and their public health clinicals.
“I love dealing with students,” she says. “It goes back to when I was at RN school in the 1970s. Sometimes, not all, but some nurses can be mean to nursing students, and I swore that I would never do that to a student. I try to get them to relax. I’m not there to beat up on them. I’m there to help them.”
Students provide Marollo with paperwork for where they plan on doing their clinical work. She makes sure the site is appropriate, and that contracts are in place, and then keeps track of each student’s program hours, evaluations, and more.
“I oversee it all,” she says with a laugh.
Marollo also teaches a clinical class and a health assessment class, but makes sure to keep herself grounded in the daily realities of nursing with her work once a week at CNY Cardiology. She says that if you’re going to teach and guide the Nurse Practitioners of tomorrow, you have to be well acquainted with the state of the industry and its ever-changing ways.
“Technology is what’s making the nursing field grow so much. You see more, sicker patients being cared for at home. Insurance has driven a lot of it too. Disease and the discoveries of so many new diseases and medication have contributed to its growth as well. There’s so much that you just have to stay on top of it. You can’t ever stop learning,” she says. “I want students to never be afraid to ask a question. No one can ever know everything. If you don’t know, look it up or ask. I also hope they’re kind and caring to their staff and patients, wherever they go. And I hope that they always stay true to themselves. If they see something wrong, they should question it. You never stop learning. Even if there’s not an incentive, you do it for yourself.”