Jump to content

Hospital Nurse Educator Interview

Posted

Hello!

So, I am fairly new to the field of nurse education as I just completed my MSN in November of last year. Since then, I have been working as an adjunct clinical instructor with the local community college. Well, I applied and have been invited to interview for a part-time nurse educator position at the hospital. Can anyone shed some light on what type of questions they may ask me? Also, since I don't have any experience in this area, I'm not sure how to even answer anything!!

Thank you!

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I suggest you look at the ANPD website and journal. ANPD = Association of Nursing Professional Development. Their journal is the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development. I would also try to read the scope and standards of NPD practice and see the NPD practice model. (From ANA) That might be the quickest way to get some information on the specialty.

When you say you have no experience in "this area" ... do you mean no experience in Professional Development? or do you mean no experience in the clinical field the NPD job is supposed to cover? If you don't know anything about the clinical field, that could be a big problem as you would have no credibility with the staff. But if it's just that you don't know much about NPD, that might be less as a problem. You would have a lot to learn about the differences between academic education and professional development ... but some of the content about adult learning, teaching strategies, etc. would be the same.

I am a specialist in NPD and have worked in the field for many years. When I interview job candidates, I want to see that they are aware of some of the differences between academic education and NPD and are willing to invest in learning the NPD specialty. I often ask them to identify their own orientation needs and ask how they plan to go about meeting those needs. Here are some examples of key differences. Other people will probably add others:

1. As an adjunct clinical instructor, you were probably teaching people with no nursing experience how to be beginner-level nurses. In NPD, a big focus is on how to transition the new grad from being a student to being a competent professional. You'll also need to know how to orient an expert nurse to a new role or new facility. There is also yearly updates, inservices, preceptor development, etc.

2. As an instructor, students looked to you to teach them -- and to be the expert. In NPD, you sometimes find yourself responsible for teaching nurses with more experience and more expertise than you. It's more of a peer/colleague/partner relationship. They are rarely afraid of you. So you have to "sell" your content to them -- help them see the value of it -- help them want to learn -- etc. Sometimes, your role could even be to simply organize an experience in which the learners will solve a problem and tell you what the procedure should be. (e.g. working with staff adapting to new equipment)

3. This aspect of teaching nurses who are also your peers can be challenging, but it can also be one of the most rewarding aspects of the role. You get to work with the full range of nurses -- from the beginner to the extreme experts -- in a collegial way to help everyone improve practice. Over time, you see people progress through different phases of their careers and you see projects come to fulfillment.

4. In NPD, you have to be more aware of (and in sync with) what the hospital administration wants. Things like cost containment become critical -- and it's important that you be seen as being supportive of the administration.

5. In NPD, you often find yourself in the middle of things ... and at the middle of interactions between other people. For example, the physicians might want to you "fix the staff" because they are not happy with something that happened with a patient. As you assess the staff's learning needs, you discover that staff learning needs have nothing to do with what happened to the patient. It may not be an education problem. Or maybe the Nurse Manager wants you to "fix a certain person" because they are not performing well. Again, you may discover that the person's performance issue has nothing to do with an educational need -- and that it is really a management issue. What I am saying that an NPD specialist finds themselves getting pulled in to fix things that other people don't want to deal with. Some people think "teaching" will fix everything: it doesn't. So you have to work with the system to help solve the problems a different way.

6. NPD is a great specialty for people who like a little flexibility -- and who like solving problems and to help improve practice, motivate staff, and generally help other nurses grow and develop. The hours and pay are usually fairly good -- not as high as administrators, but higher than lower level academic faculty.

Good luck!

Thank you so much for your response!

By no experience in this area, I meant in professional development. I have been working as a clinical nurse for 10 years. I imagine that this position is much different than a clinical instructor, so that is why I am not really sure what to expect. I will definitely follow through on your recommendations... thanks again!

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

A nurse with 10 years of relevant clinical experience, an MSN, and experience as a clinical instructor would usually be considered a strong candidate for a position in NPD. So don't sell yourself short. It sounds like your background is stronger than a lot of candidates. You probably have lots of knowledge, skills, and experience that the employer is looking for.

I suggest being confident that you can do this job -- but go in with a plan for orienting yourself to the facility and the specific duties of their particular job -- having done a little homework on the general lay of the land of NPD. Remember, there are books on NPD -- and a lot is taught in 1 or 2 day continuing education workshops.

One book I can recommend is brand new -- c. 2016 from Sigma Theta Tau -- "Staff Educator's Guide to Professional Development: Assessing and Enhancing Nurse Competency" -- 200 page paperback. I just got it, haven't read it yet, was a little disappointed as it seemed a little too beginner-level for me -- but figured it would be a good book I could recommend to others. It introduces the Scope and Standards of Practice, the NPD Model, and has chapters on a lot of major aspects of the field.

llg, thank you again for your thoughtful reply. What you said is very encouraging! The interview is next Tuesday so I have a full week to prepare. Thanks again! :)

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Thanks for the book suggestion. Once you read it you should drop a review at Amazon, they currently don't have any. I'll do the same. Thanks!

well, the interview went well. So well, that she invited me back for a 2nd interview! She also mentioned that there will be a panel interview and I will be required to do a presentation. This makes me extremely nervous!! I don't even know where to begin!

Again, thank you for all of your advice and encouragement, llg!

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Congrats. Hopefully you have presentations from other things you have taught. Pick the one that showcases your talent the most and most closely aligns with what you will be doing. Whatever you present, you are selling yourself. Don't just present the information, but explain why you chose that method or your underlying thinking. Good luck.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

That sounds like good news! Asking a person to do a presentation is common. Yes, it's a little nerve-wracking, but you'll have to get used to teaching colleagues if you get the job. That's one of the big differences between academic education and NPD. In academic education, you are always at least 1 step above your students. That's particularly true in undergraduate courses. In NPD, your audience can include nurses with more experience than you, managers, other educators, etc. So talk to them as the peers they are. Respect their backgrounds and experience. Don't talk down to them. Give them a chance to "explore the topic with you" if possible rather than simply telling them information. Plan an inservice / continuing education program that you would enjoy.

Good luck!