Essential Qualities for Surviving and Thriving as a Nurse Educator

by VickyRN 10,916 Views | 13 Comments Senior Moderator

  1. 10
    Nursing education is a harmonious blend of two nurturing and caring professions: nursing and teaching. As such, it offers the best of both worlds. It is a pivotal position in that nurse educators have the unique opportunity and wondrous privilege to shape future generations of nurses and impact care of countless patients downstream.

    Nursing education, especially in academia, is also a very stressful occupation due to the tremendous weight of responsibility. The workload can seem interminable and exhausting, especially during the first year or two of teaching.

    Novice nurse faculty can flounder under a crushing weight of minutiae and bureaucracy, such as unreasonable demands from administration, ever-increasing clinical facility site requirements, shared governance duties (i.E., meetings, committees, and professional organizations), grading mountains of student papers, and the overwhelming rigors of writing lectures, test items, and study guides.

    It is a very difficult adjustment. Learning to balance everything is essential. It can take three years or longer for a novice educator to find his or her unique rhythm and to develop the multifaceted skills necessary to confidently and successfully fill the role. The burnout rate is high due to the inordinate stress, lack of support and effective mentoring, and the bewildering and overwhelming demands of teaching.

    Despite the challenges, the rewards of teaching are many. It is immensely satisfying witnessing the “light bulb” moments and helping fledgling students mature into competent nursing graduates.

    So what does it take to be successful in this wonderful nursing specialty area? I believe the following qualities are necessary not only to survive, but also to thrive as a nurse educator:

    Thick-skinned: the successful nurse educator must be able to take criticism and be willing to learn from every experience, no matter how painful. Every teacher makes mistakes. So, dust yourself off, learn from the mistakes, and grow.

    Hardiness: this is the ability to persevere and endure under hardship. This essential quality makes the instructor more resistant to stressful situations, resilient, and better able to develop adaptive coping behaviors.

    Organizational skills: being organized takes a lot of work up front that pays enormous dividends later, as the semester unfolds. It can make the difference between a chaotic teaching experience and a satisfying one. Students especially value this quality in teachers.

    Enthusiasm: the effective educator must cultivate a genuine life-long love of learning. This contagious attitude will permeate everything he or she does in the teaching arena.

    Creativity: doing “old things” in new ways adds spice, energy, and novelty to teaching. Creativity is the cure for old drab routines, which have no place in today’s learning environments.

    Sensitivity to others’ needs: a successful teacher is empathetic, compassionate, and genuinely caring.

    Enjoy interacting with students: take the time to smile, laugh, and savor the magic moments of teaching!

    References

    Lambert, c., & lambert, v. A. (1993). Relationships among faculty practice involvement, perception of role stress, and psychological hardiness of nurse educators. Journal of nursing education, 32(4), 171-179.

    classroom skills for nurse educators
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 3, '13
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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: 6,418; Learn more about VickyRN by visiting their allnursesPage


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    13 Comments so far...

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    "grading mountains of student papers, and the overwhelming rigors of writing lectures, test items, and study guides"

    In my master's classes, it took forever to do these things during field work (being a student teacher), and I realized that there was no way to put the amount of time and energy into every lecture and presentation that we did for our class presentations. Learning to limit the amount of time spent on these things is one of the harder things to do.
    Xydhane and VickyRN like this.
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    Thank you to all nurse educators. What you do is so important.
    hikernurse, SRDAVIS, and VickyRN like this.
  6. 1
    Quote from JBudd
    "grading mountains of student papers, and the overwhelming rigors of writing lectures, test items, and study guides"

    In my master's classes, it took forever to do these things during field work (being a student teacher), and I realized that there was no way to put the amount of time and energy into every lecture and presentation that we did for our class presentations. Learning to limit the amount of time spent on these things is one of the harder things to do.
    It does get better with time, usually when the new instructor hits the "three year" mark. However, this also depends on the instructor's particular assignments within the nursing program, and whether these are stable assignments or not. With my former faculty position (in an ADN program), my teaching/ clinical assignments were constantly changing from semester to semester and from year to year. To further add to my sense of chaos, the entire curricula was changing - going to fully integrated. Several lectures that I had spent countless hours developing from scratch were going to the scrap heap. I was with that program for 4 years and never did feel like I had caught up. The workload continued to be extraordinarily stressful with no end in sight. When I finally left that faculty position for my current one (in a large BSN program), I was given stable assignments. I was amazed at how less stressful my new faculty position was. Now I have the chance to hone and update my lectures from semester to semester (since I am teaching the same content material) and build up a repertoire of multiple choice test items, quizzes (for in-class and online), and a variety of study guides.
    Multicollinearity likes this.
  7. 0
    Quote from oramar
    Thank you to all nurse educators. What you do is so important.
    Thank you, oramar
  8. 1
    thanks for the insight. It is a path that i am still considering
    VickyRN likes this.
  9. 1
    Good info, Vicky. I am going to email your blog to a nurse I know. She's taking her first adjunct faculty position, and she's feeling uncertain.
    VickyRN likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from firefightingRN
    thanks for the insight. It is a path that i am still considering
    Glad this is helpful to you. If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know
  11. 1
    I was fortunate enough to inherit a "fully developed course". So most of the lecture ppts were there, but figuring out what the previous lecturer meant to say with some of them was interesting to say the least. Especially the pictures of abnormal conditions! hmm, so what exactly is this a picture of?

    Still spent quite a bit of time honing those slides to what I thought was important. Have to confess, I used the CD of test questions that came with the instructor's edition of the text to develop most of my quizzes. 3 semesters in, my lectures are fairly stable.

    Another thing that takes getting used to, is the "permission" to do things my way. I was handed a second course to teach, "everything is already finished", at the last minute. So I taught it that way, and then the director at the end says, why did you do that?, its too long/difficult/toomuch; (a specific incident) I said that's the way it was set up and given to me (by a very experienced teacher). Director just says, its your course now. Oh, yeah, so it is.

    I like teaching (get to haul out all those old stories everyone else has already heard, lol). But dang! I can't live on this pay; I stay at the bedside, and this job is just something extra I do for the fun of it. I refuse to put this pay into my budget, so that I stay free to keep it optional.
    VickyRN likes this.
  12. 2
    Thanks for this posting. I have been teaching now for five years, full time. I am also in a MSN-nurs.ed program (Walden-yay!) I have one more year to go. It took me about 2 years to really get my footing and not feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this past fall semester we were one faculty member short so I had to teach extra. I got over load pay, but still felt I was not able to give my best. Our administration is looking at reducing our contact hours as we are WAY over what we are supposed to teach.
    Teaching is so rewarding-but there are also problems.There are those students who give you a low eval no matter what. I have learned to do my best and that is all I can do.
    A word to new educators: You are not the students friend. It was very hard for me to be tough the first couple years, but I had to. The way I deal is to think about when I or my family is in the hospital, and a former student of mine comes into the room-will I be glad or worried? I want my students to be competent, caring nurses. I give it my best effort.
    mranurse and SRDAVIS like this.


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