Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Madurai Kamaraj University
Master of Science in Nursing, Washington University in St. Louis
Doctor of Nursing Practice, Grand Canyon University
With more than 30 years of nursing and education experience, Varges is the first fully remote faculty member in the University’s history.
In addition to teaching, currently works in an outpatient clinic as a medical professional assisting retired military personnel
As they grew up in India, many of Varges’ peers aspired to be doctors or engineers. Varges, on the other hand, always enjoyed educating and helping others. She wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t until her grandmother became ill with dementia that she showed an interest in nursing.
Varges was inspired by her mother, who raised four children and took care of her husband’s parents while he was in the military. After witnessing her mother’s selfless ways, Varges moved into her grandmother’s bedroom so she could alternate taking care of her with her younger siblings.
Upon high school graduation Varges began nursing courses at Madurai Kamaraj University. This was not without challenges. She did not speak Tamil (the native language) and shared a dormitory with nine other students. Varges had no telephone access, no spending money and only one pair of shoes.
Although the job was not easy and at times emotionally exhausting, Varges was not discouraged. She learned the language and fulfilled her desire to teach by tutoring younger nursing students. In 1991 she graduated second in the University from the first batch of nurses and moved to the United States. Here, she realized the multiple opportunities available for nurses to also be teachers.
"I believe that a nursing faculty is a professional educator who strives to inspire learners in all areas of their lives.”
Varges went on to receive a Master of Science in Nursing in conjunction with a nurse practitioner certification from Washington University. She then earned her doctorate in nursing practice from Grand Canyon University and “became the first Doctor of Nursing Practice from South Indian origin in Missouri,” she says. Her project of focus was implementing diet and activity modifications, with an educational program to reduce cardiovascular risk factors among Indian females. Her career path has motivated many nurses of Indian origin to pursue higher education.
"Although I became a nurse first, it was always my intention to be a teacher," she says. "I believe that a nursing faculty is a professional educator who strives to inspire learners in all areas of their lives, not just academics alone, based on the clinical experience they have.”
Varges appreciated how Rider carves a clear career path for their students through hands-on education and other learning opportunities. This encouraged her to apply for a faculty position.
Varges’s Impact on students and Rider
Varges was hired to teach multiple classes in Rider’s online nursing programs. Her responsibilities include developing the curriculum and infrastructure of the programs as well as working with Rider’s administration to shepherd other nursing-related program proposals through the approval process.
From day one, Varges shows a genuine interest in her students and their growth. She prides herself in being easily accessible, responding to students’ messages within 24 hours. She also provides constructive feedback on all of their work, which helps to create meaningful relationships based on respect. Varges believes the development of these relationships results in higher student success rates.
"This is one of the best opportunities of my life," she says. "I take my various teaching and clinical experiences and use them as a foundation to build a program beneficial for our future nurses as they transition to various roles in the healthcare field.”
I take my various teaching and clinical experiences and use them as a foundation to build a program beneficial for our future nurses.”
Although teaching virtually may be a new experience for most educators, Varges has 15 years of online teaching experience at various universities. These experiences have allowed her to recognize the value of online education and appreciate the flexibility it permits. Students in Rider’s nursing program have the ability to seamlessly integrate their education into their busy lives.
In addition to teaching, Varges is an adult nurse practitioner. Her dual role as an educator and medical professional allows her to bring a wealth of knowledge to the classroom. She currently works at an outpatient clinic providing clear, comprehensive and concise medical examinations for retired military personnel.
Varges highlights how “nursing is a field where education and experience go hand in hand.” Her advice to future nursing students is to remember to be patient and be able to tolerate the good and the bad at the same time. She reminds students to never be afraid to ask for help, and be empathetic toward your patients, but most importantly don’t carry that weight home with you, “leave it at the hospital or organization where you work.”