MARIETTA, OHIO— When Dr. Heather Kincaid enrolled in the Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) program at Washington Technical College in 1986, she had no idea her career path would lead her back to the campus and into the same role once occupied by her own mentor.
After graduation, Kincaid found employment at Selby General Hospital. Following the completion of her bachelor’s degree, she accepted a faculty position in WSCC’s MLT program. Though not much time had passed, a lot had changed about her alma mater. By this time, the college had changed its name to Washington State Community College (WSCC) and moved to its new location on Colegate Drive. Yet change is nothing unusual for the healthcare field. “It is always changing in terms of technology, innovation, and research,” said Kincaid.
Kincaid thrived in her faculty role and was promoted to program director. She served in this position for nearly two decades before taking over as the Dean of Health & Sciences in 2015. Under her leadership, the division, which houses seven healthcare programs in addition to the sciences, has had extensive success with perfect or near perfect licensure rates, job placement, and pass rates.
Included in her notable achievements is the establishment of the EARN (Education Advancement to Registered Nurse) pathway, which is designed to help students advance through the Practical Nursing program and then directly into the Associate Degree Nursing program while working in the healthcare field. This pathway had tremendous success in its first year and this coming fall, during its second year, enrollment numbers are expected to be even greater.
Another accolade achieved under Kincaid’s leadership is the recognition of the college’s nursing programs. The Associate Degree Nursing program as well as the Practical Nursing program have ranked among the best in Ohio for several years in a row.
“I firmly believe that the success of our nursing programs is due to our experienced, dedicated faculty members and the quality students who are enrolled in our programs,” Kincaid acknowledged. “As a leader, I feel it is important to be respectful of those I work with, to find their individual strengths, and help them grow professionally and personally. I am an advocate for them and for the students who have entrusted us to help them achieve their educational goals.”
“The previous Dean, Dixie Vaughn, built an environment of teamwork and camaraderie,” credited Kincaid. “I have tried my best to keep our division working together as a team with a student-focused mindset.”
When looking at Kincaid’s career path, this student-centered approach becomes especially evident. As a student, Vaughn was one of Kincaid’s primary instructors in the MLT program. “Dixie was the faculty member who inspired me,” Kincaid confided.
It is, perhaps, no coincidence then that Kincaid’s career journey is a mirror image of Vaughn’s. Both worked at Selby before teaching, rose to program director, and then dean. In fact, Kincaid sees this same pattern in two current faculty members at WSCC.
Former student and current MLT program director Steve Temesvary, went on to work at Selby following graduation before returning to campus as faculty. “To see him progress through his career is fun to watch,” said Kincaid, who presumed it was the same experience for Vaughn watching her.
Lindy Lemley, another former student, now works as an instructor in the MLT program. Before joining the team, she worked with Temesvary shortly after the merger between Memorial Health Systems and Selby General Hospital. Kincaid mused at the thought of the pattern following suit three times. “Wouldn’t that be something?”