'The CONcierge' provides advising help, information to nursing students

September 22, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The academic advisers in the College of Nursing understand the challenges faced by first- and second-year nursing students. They felt these students needed a trusted resource where they could find the things they needed to make the most of their time in the College of Nursing. They needed … a concierge.

Thus "The CONcierge" was born: an email newsletter for University Park nursing students, whose title plays on the acronym "CON" used by College of Nursing insiders as their unofficial nickname.

“Our goal was to make it engaging, upbeat, conversational and funny — something students can appreciate and look forward to reading,” said Kris Conn, the college’s advising center manager.

The idea was formed when two nursing advisers, Devan Bechtol and Melissa Whited, attended the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) conference last spring. It was one of the “best practices” they brought home from the conference that the college adapted to meet its own needs, Conn said.

“We spent time deciding where students could use help with transitioning and finding resources, so they could develop a healthy frame of mind early on,” she said.

To that end, "The CONcierge" started as a five-part weekly series delivered to students throughout the month of August, before they arrived on campus. The first five issues addressed topics such as homework, student activities, time management, test-taking strategies, and how to survive the intensive first-year biology course that is a fact of life for all nursing students.

“A different version of the first issue was created for each of the five academic advisers in the college,” Conn said. Each version contained a short, chatty biography of the adviser and information on how to connect with him or her. All first- and second-year students received the version of the newsletter tailored to the adviser to whom they had been assigned.

Once the semester got underway, the newsletter changed course in both content and frequency, with more in-depth and informational articles, as well as fun contests and games. “We’re more focused on making students feel comfortable now that they’re here,” Conn said.

By keeping in touch in this manner throughout the semester, the nursing advising center hopes that students will see them as a resource for academic issues (such as whether to enroll in a minor) as well as nonacademic ones (such as managing stress).

“We want students to see us as approachable and helpful,” Conn said. “At the same time, it will help us in our jobs by giving students many of the answers they need, thus allowing us to focus more on advising. It’s a win–win.” 

Last Updated September 23, 2016