A Heart for Learning Together: Leslie Pittman

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An integral part of the Barton Experience is “learning together.” The community-focused environment at Barton allows professors to get to know and spend quality time with their students, an opportunity not always afforded to students at larger institutions. And, Leslie Pittman is known for the meaningful connection that she forms with her students, and the amount of time she spends with them, inside and outside the classroom. She truly has a heart for a student-centered, collaborative learning experience.

A member of the Barton nursing faculty since 2013, Pittman serves several roles within Barton’s distinguished School of Nursing — assistant professor of nursing, junior level coordinator for the School of Nursing, and advisor for the Barton College Association for Nursing Students (BCANS).

When asked what she enjoys most about her own Barton Experience, she quickly responds, “The people! I love what I do here because I have the opportunity to develop relationships with people. As a nurse, you are able to form relationships with your patients and their families. It’s not just about dispensing medicine; nursing is about caring for the individual patient holistically. And, I believe that same approach can be extended through my teaching role as well.” Pittman truly cares about her students as individuals as she helps to guide each one through his or her Barton Experience.

In addition to teaching in the classroom, Pittman oversees the Simulation Lab in the Judy Howard Hill Nursing Program at Barton — from ordering supplies and making sure the equipment is in good working order to encouraging nursing students to take advantage of these lab opportunities to strengthen their skill sets. The Barton nursing lab is specifically designed to simulate real situations from which the nursing students can engage and learn the skills needed in the profession. Once they understand the mechanics of the skills, they learn to hone those skills and perfect their techniques to be well prepared and composed whatever situation they encounter during clinical rotations. The sophistication of the mannequin technology in the lab allows a wide variety of very specific scenarios to be simulated for the students, and Pittman sets certain objectives for the students to achieve during each lab experience. The lab mannequins can simulate a multitude of human responses, which provides experiences very similar to what the nursing students will experience firsthand during clinical rotations in the healthcare setting.

Pittman values her relationships with both students and colleagues. While she understands that her students are generationally different, she uses those differences to challenge herself to be more understanding toward her students’ life experiences. Pittman’s office door is always open to her students, for questions or conversation. And, before she leaves each day, she completes a round in the building to help any last-minute study groups. Pittman explains, “A lot of who we are is influenced by who we are surrounded by.” A strong support network is essential to success. She appreciates the support she receives from her faculty colleagues and the dean of the School of Nursing, and she wants to make sure the students feel that same support. Pittman emphasizes that the nursing faculty truly enjoy their work. Nursing students face a challenging curriculum, and the nursing faculty hold students accountable to comprehend massive amounts of material, while also learning the dynamics of performing well under pressure in a disciplined professional health environment. Pittman assures her students that there are no short cuts, but the reward of their hard work will be worth every late night studying and every extra round in the simulation lab.

What’s most rewarding for Pittman is witnessing firsthand the mental and emotional growth of her students, from the time they enter the nursing program as sophomores to their well-earned walk across the commencement stage to receive their diplomas. That’s when Pittman knows she has impacted her students’ ability to learn and adapt in an ever-evolving healthcare industry in positive and meaningful ways.

While Pittman loves her work, she also welcomes quality time with her family, as well as traveling and gardening. She shares that watching her plants grow gives her peace. Pittman loves to be outdoors, and spends part of her summer near the water. She also is a self-proclaimed urban explorer, as she enjoys visiting the nooks and crannies of interesting towns and cities, especially the arts areas.

Her husband, Frank Pittman, is a graduate of Atlantic Christian College (now Barton), and they have three children in middle and high school. Both of their boys are sports enthusiasts and play baseball during the summer, which also adds travel to their busy summer schedule. And, their aspiring photographer daughter will celebrate her 16th birthday this summer.

Whatever her role, Pittman believes in embracing the teachable moment. Whether answering questions during class or afterwards, advising nursing students on their next BCANS project, or guiding nursing students through their first IV simulation, Leslie Pittman welcomes the opportunity to impact the future of her students. Her influence runs deep and wide in their Barton Experience.

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