Guest Post: Compassion & Student Success by Colette Schrank

Colette Schrank
Colette Schrank, MS MA MT(ASCP) –  Professor of Phlebotomy and Medical Terminology

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2019) defines “compassion” as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

In the healthcare arena all levels of healthcare workers observe patients’ distress daily.  Our Moraine Valley Community College health science and nursing students during their clinical internships provide feedback of compassionate care given to patients to alleviate discomfort.

Transitioning to the academic setting, we readily identify colleagues and departments on campus who also go ‘above and beyond’ to provide compassionate assistance to students promoting their success.  Compassionate assistance to students begins with the ‘basics’, i.e. meeting students’ needs.

Abraham Maslow cites five levels of needs: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and, ultimately self-actualization.  Saul McLeod (2018) depicts Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs’ in a pyramid, shown below.Maslow's needs. Visit the attached link for more information on Maslow.

Throughout Moraine Valley staff and departments provide a warm, comfortable and safe environment, café and food bars promoting student discussion and engagement.  Various student resources and clubs foster belonging.  Student success is further cultivated via extraordinary programs made possible via grants, contextualized learning opportunities and research groups in identifying issues/problems inhibiting student success and solutions to promote student success.

Integral to Moraine Valley Drs. Vernon Crawley and Sylvia Jenkins “Eight Expectations of College Staff, Number V” (2019) mandate us to focus on students and assist them in achieving success, to create an environment promoting and supporting their success.  In other words we are tasked with developing an awareness, a sympathetic consciousness of student’ distress and with the student find a mechanism or vehicle to alleviate it.

Individuals in our organization must be focused on students, student learning, and student success. Remember: Our only reason for being is our students. Before anything is done, ask the question: How does it benefit our students?

Each of us addresses student needs individually and/or within a department.  As a faculty member I first listen to my students.  I need to know their learning styles so I can provide feedback as to what strategies are more likely to enhance their learning.

I solicit their academic goals, build a rapport with my students, allow them to learn to trust me; let them learn that I am fair and honor the syllabus; but, am always ready to listen to them.

Grades are HUGE…and, I report quarterly grades; applaud successes yet require accountability.

Time for students goes beyond office hours and prompt email responses as students have other classes, job and family obligations.

And, since students are the ‘end-user’, I need their feedback and willingness to partner with me to enhance course delivery.

The ‘sage on the stage’ is no longer an effective teaching strategy; the dynamic class is an interactive environment integrating the devices students ‘grew up with.’

The gratitude of Moraine Valley students/graduates for providing compassionate care and advancing their success is beyond words…whether it involves re-working a schedule of assignments so the veteran can meet his/her reserve duties and complete course work; or, motivating and encouraging a student who is experiencing undue hardships (i.e. death of a loved one or a divorce); or motivating a student who lacks the confidence because he/she failed in previous courses or barely graduated from high school or has been out of school for many years and struggles with study skills.

When students write that they are grateful for a scholarship so they can continue with their education dreams, or for helping them become productive in society or for taking the financial load off their families, it is the ‘reason’ for our being and fulfillment of “Eight Expectations of College Staff, Number V.”

And, when we proudly applaud our students, soon-to-be graduates, as they advance across the stage at graduation, then, we know we have fulfilled Merriam-Webster’s definition of compassion: to develop a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress and to work together with a desire to alleviate it.


Colette Schrank is one of the college’s professors of Phlebotomy and Medical Terminology. If you’d like to contact Colette, please contact the CTL and we will forward your message to Colette. Be sure to reference the post in your message.