The Greatest Challenge to Success
As I began to approach this time of practicum, I was much more nervous than I expected. Why? I am a nurse with fifteen years experience in labor, delivery, mom, baby, newborn nursery, and pediatrics. This is a pretty varied background. Although I do confess to feeling a bit under equipped at times, particularly in the medical surgical area. In my own area, I may be considered an expert. However, teaching is a whole new experience. Yes, I have home-schooled my children, but the students in my future will be adults and will not related to me! Ultimately, I realize the most difficult part of this whole experience goes far beyond creating lesson plans, outlining objectives and organizing a practicum. It is much more personal. It is realizing I will be a novice again. Cangelosi, Crocker, and Sorrell (2009) affirm that moving from an area of expertise to an area of inexperience can create anxiety and tension. Thus, the thought of starting over in a new career is as exciting, as it is excruciating. I, like most people, like to be comfortable.
However, I also can see first hand how the nursing instructor shortage is affecting everyone. My own son is on the waiting list for a BSN program at a local college after preparing for two years in the undergraduate arena. Nursing instructors are needed. Who better to teach them than a nurse who loves what she does, loves to teach and loves to care for others? Murphy (2007) observes that just as nurses care for patients, nurse educators care for students. So what is the answer? If lack of experience, lack of confidence and lack of knowledge are the challenges I face, how can these challenges be remedied?
Education and experience are the keys to growing in confidence and comfort but these tasks have been initiated. I know I have the desire. I love the thought of someday pursuing my doctorate. However, with essentially three different jobs right now I often feel divided and conflicted. What are other contributors to these feelings of insecurity? How can I address the challenges awaiting me? Are there steps to take that can help an adult in midlife who changes careers? If there are, what are they? How can a nurse prepare to become a nurse educator?
Rose Kearney-Nunnery (2008) recounts that Bridges’ Stages for Managing Transitions is comprised of three phases. The first phase involves letting go of the comfort and safety of routine and to experience loss (Kearney-Nunnery, 2008). This I have definitely experienced. In the second phase the individual has let go of the old ways and yet needs support and assistance to grow in the new area (Kearney-Nunnery, 2008). This is where I am now. Lastly, the final phase is the new beginning; here the individual moves in an alternative direction with energy but must operate in a culture of respect to grow and become confident and competent (Kearney-Nunnery, 2008). This makes a great deal of sense. I do feel uneasy at times about moving into a new job, however, I have gathered supporters who are assisting me. Consequently, it will be vital as I move into the educational environment to seek out positive mentors and schools that encourage the use of preceptors. Murphy (2007) notes that the mentor relationship is more informal than the preceptor relationship and lasts for a longer period of time. Generally, in this situation it is best if the student is allowed to pick a mentor to ensure compatibility (Murphy, 2007). In some respects it would be easier to move into the hospital environment as an educator, however, I passionately desire to enter the academic environment. Therefore, it will be especially important for me to garner the friendships of fellow educators for encouragement.
Chapter fourteen from Nursing Education: Foundations for Practice Excellence addresses mentoring in nursing education. When I read this material, I recognized that Charleston Southern University has followed the same steps suggested for novice nurse educators in setting up the masters in nursing education program. The more of this chapter I read, the more comforted I became. Though it will be a long time before I am an expert nurse educator, all the prerequisites have been provided for me. I have had the opportunity to select a mentor who can serve as a role model and who can scaffold her guidance and support. As well as, the opportunity as a student to expand my experience level, reflect upon this new practice and articulate this growth (Murphy, 2007). As I reflect upon the skills that have already been attained, I am reassured that I will indeed be competent when I complete the program. I have already had the opportunity to learn about curriculum design, staff development, portfolios, leadership, lesson planning, objective development, learning and teaching strategies, technology, research and the statistics behind the research. These are just a few of the skills, which have been worked on thus far and it has only been seven months! This is a tremendous base as a novice educator to build upon and yet I still have nine months to go! Imagine all I have yet to learn and grow comfortable with. Yes, I am in Bridges’ stage two with my sights set on the future!
Completing this essay has helped me realize how far I have come in a short period of time. This has been very reassuring. As I reviewed the recommended tactics for assisting novice nurse educators to become experienced, I realized afresh that my school is aware of these strategies. This realization alone increased my confidence. Reviewing Bridges’ Stages for Managing Transitions encouraged me that the ambiguity I feel at times is normal. Thus, my greatest dilemma, which was hesitancy, a lack of confidence and the fear of being a novice, has been faced and replaced with peace.
Cangelosi, P., Crocker, S., & Sorrell, J. (2009). Expert to novice: Clinicians learning new roles as clinical nurse educators. Nursing Education Perspectives, 30(6), 367-371.
Kearney-Nunnery, R. (2008). Advancing Your Career: Concepts of Professional Nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
Murphy, J. (2007). Role transition: Using partnerships and cognitive apprenticeship to become a nurse educator. In Moyer, F. (Ed.), Nursing education: Foundations for practice excellence (pp. 265-281).