One is a doctor at Johns Hopkins. Several are studying to be physician assistants at Eastern Virginia Medical School and several are already practicing. Many others are fire lieutenants and captains. Another is Jason Ambrose, current coordinator for the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Basic Life Support programs at Tidewater Community College.
“I’ve been here 20 years, and I think I’ve taught 90 percent of those in the EMS profession around here,” says Mach, associate professor of EMS and Critical Care at TCC. “When they go on to become doctors and nurses and physician’s assistants and paramedics and tell us they’ve graduated, that’s really special because they got their start here.”
At 5 years old, Mach knew nursing was her calling, and despite teaching full time at TCC since 1995, she continues to work night shifts in the emergency room at Sentara Virginia Beach General. While she enjoys the hands-on patient care, Mach also finds it important to make sure she incorporates the latest trends and technology in the classroom.
“In the last five years, there have been so many advances in the paramedic program,” she says, referring to inducing hypothermia as an example of one way to save a cardiac patient. “The whole medical scene is so dynamic. Every two years we’re given different guidelines to incorporate into the program.”
Mach lauds TCC’s Regional Health Professions Center, home to most of her classes, given its eight simulation labs, a model apartment and equipment that rivals the facilities of some medical schools. Little is reminiscent of the mid-’90s, when she taught Introduction to Cardiology in the campus trailers.
“Today we have the latest and greatest,” she says.
Her own education dates back to a hospital-based program at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown, Pa. She went on to earn her bachelor’s in nursing and master’s in nursing education from University of Phoenix. She also spent 14 years in the Army in the Nursing Corps Reserves.
“I’ve been a nurse for many, many years,” she says.
While Mach has taught the gamut of TCC’s EMS program, she currently teaches the advanced courses in Pathophysiology, Patient Assessment and Pharmacology. That allows her to have all of her students for at least two semesters.
“I get to know them,” says Mach, who gives personalized attention to students struggling at different points in the program. “Life happens in the middle of class, and I understand that. After they leave, I know when they have babies; I know when they’ve gotten married and it’s usually generated by them.”
Her rewards in nursing come in seeing her patients improve. The rewards in teaching are similar, Mach says. “You’ll see a student not function well in a practical or didactic areas, learn, and then move forward. It’s really great to see that progression.”
Mach is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Contribution to EMS by a Nurse from the Tidewater EMS Council. Recently, she won the Outstanding Educator Award from the Peninsula EMS Council – a testament to how much she travels to teach students. It’s not unusual to see Mach lugging mannequins to and from the Eastern Shore, Hampton and Newport News.
While she readily admits, “My fun comes in enjoying my students,” Mach also enjoys reading mysteries, walking and her four cats. A Virginia Beach resident, Mach makes nightly visits to a nearby nursing home to see her mother, an Alzheimer’s patient.