Desired Characteristics of Effective Nurse Educators - “My Ideal Nursing Instructor”

by VickyRN 46,116 Views | 35 Comments Senior Moderator

  1. 19
    as nurse faculty, we constantly strive to be the most effective instructors that we can be. the effective nurse educator, whether operating in the clinical setting or classroom, must demonstrate astute interpersonal skills, clinical competency, professionalism, and an understanding of the principles of adult learning.

    consumer satisfaction is becoming increasingly important in institutes of higher learning. in order to be more accountable to taxpayers and politicians, scarce educational funds are being linked to optimal performance and outcomes. a pivotal factor for student success is the teacher's interpersonal and instructional abilities. therefore, faculty pay raises, retention, promotion, and tenure are often tied into student evaluation scores on teaching effectiveness.
    what characteristics of nursing instructors do learners consider ideal or most helpful to their success as nursing students? the following desirable educator attributes have been gleaned from a literature search:

    instructional ability/ communication skills

    • communicates effectively; breaks down content in a down-to-earth manner
    • clear goals, expectations, deadlines, desired outcomes
    • organized
    • knowledgeable of course materials
    • interacts with students
    • enthusiastic, energetic, eager
    • well-prepared
    • self-confident
    • creative
    interpersonal skills

    • encouraging demeanor
    • friendly attitude
    • mentoring approach
    • motivational
    • supportive
    • respectful
    • receptive to people and ideas
    • open minded, objective, non-judgmental
    personality traits

    • attentive
    • nurturing
    • demonstrates concern about students
    • flexible, easy-going manner
    • sense of humor
    accessibility

    • approachable, welcoming
    • has designated office hours
    nursing competence/ professionalism

    • good role model
    • dedicated
    • clearly enjoys nursing and teaching
    • skilled clinician
    evaluation procedures

    • provides study guides/ outlines
    • provides timely, constructive, and specific feedback
    • gives tests that reflect course objectives, lecture materials, and study guides
    faculty should be receptive to student ratings and comments in end-of-semester evaluations. student feedback is critical to improving the course and instructor effectiveness. research indicates that student suggestions regarding teaching style, course design, and delivery of material in the classroom or clinical settings are usually valid and should not be discounted. criticism involving other matters, such as the instructor's knowledge base, may not be as accurate.

    nurse faculty should seek to be positive role models for students and should establish a relationship of mutual respect. although high standards must be upheld and difficult situations occasionally arise, educators should be tolerant of minor student inadequacies and sensitive to student anxieties. faculty should attempt to understand learners’ fears and stressors and truly care about the students.



    references

    role transition from expert clinician to clinical instructor

    benoir, d. e., & leviyof, i. (1997). the development of students’ perceptions of effective teaching: the ideal, best and poorest clinical teacher in nursing. journal of nursing education, 36(5), 206-211.

    berg, c. l., & lindseth, g. (2004). students’ perceptions of effective and ineffective nursing instructors. journal of nursing education, 43(12), 565-568.

    morgan, j., & knox, j. e. (1987). characteristics of ‘best’ and ‘worst’ clinical teachers as perceived by university nursing faculty and students. journal of advanced nursing, 12, 331-337.

    tang, f., chou, s., & chiang, h. (2005). students’ perceptions of effective and ineffective clinical instructors. journal of nursing education, 44(4), 187-192.

    whitehead, d. k., & sandiford, j. r. (1997). characteristics of effective clinical and theory instructors as perceived by lpn to rn students and generic students in an associate degree nursing program. retrieved june 26, 2009, from http://library.ucf.edu/jhoe/educatio...l/fall1997.pdf

    wieck, k. l. (2003). faculty for the millennium: changes needed to attract the emerging workforce into nursing. journal of nursing education, 42(4), 151-158.
    Last edit by VickyRN on Jun 27, '09
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    VickyRN joined Mar '01 - from 'Under the shadow of His wings...'. VickyRN has '16' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds'. Posts: 12,043 Likes: 6,424; Learn more about VickyRN by visiting their allnursesPage


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    35 Comments so far...

  4. 4
    This is a nice job of enumerating and illuminating the characteristics of a good nursing instructor. Having had many teachers, managers, and leaders over many years, I'm inclined to think these attributes are those often found in leaders. Perhaps leadership, the ability to motivate people to achieve more than they would without leadership, is the hallmark of good nursing instruction. One implication is that an instructor must consider the group's opinions and desires as part of the continuous improvement cycle. However, the instructor, as leader, must also ensure the bar is set high enough to ensure the standards of performance are attained, then exceeded.
    madnurse2b, MauraRN, NRSKarenRN, and 1 other like this.
  5. 0
    Quote from buransic
    This is a nice job of enumerating and illuminating the characteristics of a good nursing instructor. Having had many teachers, managers, and leaders over many years, I'm inclined to think these attributes are those often found in leaders. Perhaps leadership, the ability to motivate people to achieve more than they would without leadership, is the hallmark of good nursing instruction. One implication is that an instructor must consider the group's opinions and desires as part of the continuous improvement cycle. However, the instructor, as leader, must also ensure the bar is set high enough to ensure the standards of performance are attained, then exceeded.
    Excellent post, buransic. You are right on target with your insight about leadership abilities and effective nursing instruction. And yes, it is a balancing act - to uphold the high standards of the profession and at the same time, nurture and mentor the next generation of nurses.
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    I have to say that I think this is another area where "customer satisfaction" shouldn't be such a huge factor in evaluation. Educators are much like as a floor nurse, where often I have to tell people things they just do not want to hear, and do things they just do not want done. Sometimes I'm going to make people very unhapppy and very unsatisfied for their own good. Educators often have to do similar. Some of the nursing instructors that I just hated were the ones that looking back made me a much better nurse. I'd have probably given them a poor eval if I'd gotten one for them, and it would have been a shame since in the end, I actually learned more from them than from ones that I liked. School, much like the hospital, isn't a trip to the spa. It's not all about making one feel good. And it's time that schools, like hospitals, spend more time focusing on their purpose instead of "customer satisfaction."
    Teacher First, Artistyc1, and VickyRN like this.
  7. 2
    Quote from wooh
    I have to say that I think this is another area where "customer satisfaction" shouldn't be such a huge factor in evaluation. Educators are much like as a floor nurse, where often I have to tell people things they just do not want to hear, and do things they just do not want done. Sometimes I'm going to make people very unhapppy and very unsatisfied for their own good. Educators often have to do similar. Some of the nursing instructors that I just hated were the ones that looking back made me a much better nurse. I'd have probably given them a poor eval if I'd gotten one for them, and it would have been a shame since in the end, I actually learned more from them than from ones that I liked. School, much like the hospital, isn't a trip to the spa. It's not all about making one feel good. And it's time that schools, like hospitals, spend more time focusing on their purpose instead of "customer satisfaction."
    I was shocked at first, when I saw what enormous bearing the student satisfaction scores have on faculty raises and promotion opportunities at my school of nursing. I do understand the administration's reasoning - our nursing program is competing for students and their feedback is important as they are our "consumers" or "customers." We are also accountable for scarce state educational funds, and part of this accountability is demonstrating an optimal student retention rate throughout our nursing program. We want to be perceived as "student friendly," which I believe we are. One thing TPTB do not take into account is that student scores or perceptions of instructor effectiveness have been shown by research to be valid in only certain areas, but not in others. This is one fascinating item I found in my literature search of the topic.
    Last edit by VickyRN on Jul 1, '09
    Multicollinearity and jpRN84 like this.
  8. 1
    Wonderful post as usual, Vicky. The only thing I would add is one of the first things my teacher taught me in LPN school -- meet people where they are, as they are. If you've got a student who has more than basic knowledge in one area of an RN program (EMT, Paramedic, LPN, ICU tech, whatever), please, please teach to keep that person engaged.

    And also realize that just because a student may have had a lot of experience in one area, they may not have that same level of experience in another; because of where I work, I can deal with cardiac problems, read strips, etc.; I have to, it's my job -- we laugh and say some weeks, we're "Codes R Us." That doesn't mean I will have the same level of experience or confidence when I do a rotation in OB/GYN -- I'm ACLS, not PALS certified. I know what normal "abnormal" values are common in a dying CHFer or COPDer, but I'm going to be sweating bullets next semester, where we do babies. My youngest patient out in the world was a 9 year old, and I hovered on that kid like a Chinook helicopter.
    VickyRN likes this.
  9. 6
    Teach us with real life experiences and stories. We will remember that. Just reading us a powerpoint that we can read for our self doesn't work and it is boring. Engage us in conversations and debates and be willing to except another point of view. Yes even educators can get stuck in their own preferences at time. Ex. breastfeeding is the best versus bottle feeding. Well yah, ideally it is the best, but it is not always the best for the situation at hand. Explain real world nursing versus book nursing when applicable, trust me there are those out there who don't know the difference and are in total disbelief when they begin there nursing career. Don't hold my hand when trying new skills, but don't scare me to death so that nerves take over and i'm bound to fell. If I do screw up (and it's not deadly) tell me in private, guide me, and give me the confidence I need to continue. Believe me I feel bad enough already and will probably never ever make that mistake again. Be an advocate for your students during your clinical time. Find out what procedures need to be done that day on the floors your on and get your students involved, I have yet to see a nurse say no I need to do that FC myself, sorry but i'm really looking forward to putting that NG down this afternoon. Your students need you to find these opportunities for them because they are concentrating on there assignments/pts. and they might not otherwise have the opportunities to accomplish these tasks. Slow down when your explaining things, we don't have the years of experience behind us to comprehend everything that your saying at lighting speed. Do inservices with your clinical groups, show them indepth about the med. pump, let them play with one and ask you questions. Show them how to set up an IV bag with tubing and PBs. let them play with a setup prior to trying to do it in a pts. rm. ect.. ect.. Finally, if you have issues with other staff members (co-workers, hospital personel), please don't tell us about it. We don't need to be caught up in your gossip. We have enough on our plates without worrying if Doc so and so is truely and a**h*** or not. Especially if we are going to come in contact with this person. Believe me we will find out for ourselves is it is true.
    As a recent new grad, I can not express my gratitude enough to the Nurse educators that truely taught me. Through my own education I learned that teaching was something that I truely love doing also. So that is my ultimate goal, to someday join you. Unfortunately right now due to the economy I am in the same situation as so many other new grads in that I can't find employment. Although this is pretty depressing and extremely frustrating I am keeping my chin up and my eventual goals have not changed.
  10. 3
    I agree with this concept and would hope the administration/facility would take it seriously, I had many "teachers" who didn't actually "teach us, but rather told us". Out of more than 20, there were really only 3 who could do that well. How sad is that. Even the Administrator who taught a class, well... stunk. So it comes from the top down I guess.

    I always gave my evaulation, including both positive & negative items. Trust me, I'm not knocking the hard job that they do, I just feel....that just because you have a degree does not a good teacher make!
    Teacher First, cwhagat, and VickyRN like this.
  11. 2
    Interesting post, Vicki. I found the part about which parts of evaluations are valid and which are not valid to be quite interesting.

    Here's a point that hasn't been mentioned: how many evaluations are valid at all? In my nursing program, nursing instructors walk around the room, around the students, while the students are filling out the evaluations. It always feels a bit uncomfortable to have the instructor who is being evaluated close by and watching. It means the students don't really fill out an honest evaluation.

    This is in violation of the policies and procedures for student evaluations at my college. I've only seen this done in the nursing program. Faculty in other subjects follow the rules. They are out of the room when evaluations are being filled out, and a student collects the forms and turns them in to the bursar's office, etc.

    A couple semesters ago I got mad about the process and decided to write on my evaluation that instructors in the nursing program were not following the rules, and that they walk around us and watch what we write. I wrote this down, and turned in my evaluation. The instructor walked up to the stack of evaluations, picked mine up, turned it over, and read what I wrote! Right in front of me! I nearly DIED!
    Teacher First and VickyRN like this.
  12. 1
    Quote from multicollinearity
    Interesting post, Vicki. I found the part about which parts of evaluations are valid and which are not valid to be quite interesting.

    Here's a point that hasn't been mentioned: how many evaluations are valid at all? In my nursing program, nursing instructors walk around the room, around the students, while the students are filling out the evaluations. It always feels a bit uncomfortable to have the instructor who is being evaluated close by and watching. It means the students don't really fill out an honest evaluation.

    This is in violation of the policies and procedures for student evaluations at my college. I've only seen this done in the nursing program. Faculty in other subjects follow the rules. They are out of the room when evaluations are being filled out, and a student collects the forms and turns them in to the bursar's office, etc.

    A couple semesters ago I got mad about the process and decided to write on my evaluation that instructors in the nursing program were not following the rules, and that they walk around us and watch what we write. I wrote this down, and turned in my evaluation. The instructor walked up to the stack of evaluations, picked mine up, turned it over, and read what I wrote! Right in front of me! I nearly DIED!
    That's terrible, Multi - an egregious violation of student rights and I'm sure, your university or community college student policy. Have you considered reporting this (anonymously, of course) to the authorities at your college?

    In my limited professional experience, student evaluations have been completed in an upright manner. At my former community college, the instructor was out of the room and paper evaluations placed in a manilla envelope by a student and then carried by the student to the proper authority at the college. At the university, all evaluations (in my program) are offered anonymously online. Most often, only a minority of students participate in the online evaluation process, so it does have its drawbacks.
    Multicollinearity likes this.


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