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Clinical Nurse Expert (educator)

Specializes in Med-surg, homehealth, and hospice.

I have just recently accepted this new postion, in fact it is new for whole hospital. Can anyone out there give any ideas as to where I can find self evals and assement tools that I use to get information from the nurses on my floor? (It is a med-surg floor). By the way I have to return to college to get my master's degree and am thinking of Walden. If anyone went there can you give me an idea of what to expect? I have three years to complete it, I will be working while I am doing the program.



HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.


Congratulations on your new position - and on the opportunity to continue your education. Is there a reason you chose an online program rather than traditional? Speaking from experience - educator positions are usually flexible enough to attend grad school. Hey, it's usually only about 12 (semester) classes. I did mine in 2 years - with thesis.

I am not a fan of 'self assessments' of competency unless you couple them with exemplars that contain very specific criteria for success.

A few Educator Newbie tips:

  • Tie everything to your organization's goals: If you can't make a direction connection between what you are doing and the organizational strategy -- Don't do it.
  • Operate from a "value proposition" - don't do anything that will not add measurable value to your organization. This will not only protect your job, it will lay the groundwork for a stronger education department. This requires establishing outcome objectives for everything you do -- and measuring to see if the outcomes have been achieved. Calculate the true cost of your activities, including the cost of participant salaries - and use this information to decide whether or not to move ahead with an initiative.
  • Become very familiar with labor laws - especially those related to education and job competency. For instance, making up your own 'tests' will expose your organization to enormous liability. You must have valid and reliable instruments for every type of measurement that is going to be used to make personnel decisions. Your HR folks should be able to help you with this.
  • Become adept at performance analysis - in order to determine when education/inservices are actually necessary... 75% of the time, the problem is due to management issues - not lack of skills or knowledge. So, stop & count to 10 when anyone asks you for an inservice to 'fix' performance problems. If they already know how to do it --- it's NOT an education problem and an inservice will not improve anything.
  • Go slow - especially with incumbent staff - and think about the consequences of your actions. All records are discoverable for plaintiff attorneys. What will your nurse managers do if your EKG test shows that half your telemetry nurses are not competent??? (hey, don't laugh - it happened to me in my very first educator job).
  • Don't rely on nursing programs to provide you with the skills and competency you need to become an educator. Nursing programs tend to ignore the rest of the world - even if your graduate major (as mine was) is Nursing Education. Educate yourself... Join ASTD, ISPI and other societies for educators. There's a whole world out there that will make your life easier, but you'll never hear about it in a nursing program.
  • Take care of yourself: As an educator, you have a higher level of professional liability & will undoubtedly be involved in clinical litigation in the future. I have been deposed 3 times as an educator - to explain competency requirements and testing procedures. Keep GREAT records. Follow an accepted procedure to develop each and every activity you create.

Welcome to 'education world' - feel free to PM me if I can be of any help at all.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

I would add to rebezemek's excellent suggestions that you keep a current copy of your Nurse Practice Act in your office. Even if it is online, a hardcopy is nice to take to classes. Know your hospital policies inside and out. Get on several committees. Once the committee decides on an initiative you may be asked to get the word out. Not everything requires paying people to attend a class.

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