Drawing from Her Own Experiences, Nichol Riedel Teaches the Next Generation of Phlebotomy Students
Students at technical colleges often get the benefit of having instructors with real-life experience in the field they’re teaching. “When students see that, I think it makes it more credible to them because you’re actually speaking from your own experiences,” says Nichol Riedel, Phlebotomy Technician instructor at Mid-State Technical College.
After Riedel earned a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology from UW-Stevens Point, she worked as a certified medical technologist in various clinical settings for over 20 years, performing laboratory testing and blood collection. During this time in her career, she also spent three years as an adjunct instructor for Northcentral Technical College’s Medical Assistant program.
“Throughout those three years, I realized how much I love teaching,” says Riedel. “So I began to look for a full-time instructor position and found this one at Mid-State.” After having completed her second year at the college, she adds, “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
As a Phlebotomy Technician instructor, she teaches her students laboratory regulations as well as the different techniques of blood draws along with laboratory skills so they learn how to do CLIA waived testing for things like rapid strep test, pregnancy tests and urinalysis. Riedel also serves as the Phlebotomy program director.
After just two years as a full-time instructor, she can already say with certainty that the students are the best part of her job. “I really enjoy interacting with them on a daily basis and knowing that, in some way, I made a positive impact on their lives,” explains Riedel. “Whether it’s learning the skills I taught them or treating them with respect and kindness, hopefully that translates into their lives and they can pass that on to patient care.”
It’s rewarding for Riedel to see the students’ growth along the way. “To see the students on their first day where they have no idea what is involved with lab work or phlebotomy, to at the end of the program when they’re confident and career-ready, it’s a huge transformation,” she adds.
Riedel was one of the biggest proponents in giving the Phlebotomy program at Mid-State a bit of an upgrade. Working with her associate dean, the college invested in brand new equipment for her and her students. “I feel grateful that they believe in our program,” she says. “It’s generated a lot of excitement with students. It shows that we are invested in their success.”
Riedel’s level of investment goes well beyond that. She is also very involved in promoting her program and generating interest with middle and high school students at college camps, program showcases and science fairs. “I can set up displays of phlebotomy equipment and mannequin arms and explain exactly what’s involved with phlebotomy in a short amount of time,” she explains. “Then I let them practice drawing blood from the mannequin arm. I really enjoy seeing that fresh excitement from the younger kids, so I like to invest a lot of time in that.”
“I’m proud of what we mean to the community here and the students that we turn out, especially when I go to visit different clinical sites and I actually see them working and when I hear that a hospital employs 80 percent of my graduates,” she concludes. “I think that says a lot.”