As I reflect on the completion of the nurse educator projects, it is amazing how transformative this course has been. Not only has it provided a brief and insightful glance into the world of education, but also, it has illuminated the complete picture of the nursing educational environment for me. This course has filled in many gaps in my concept of nursing education that I was unaware even existed. Previously, my idea of this environment was very compartmentalized. In addition to broadening my vision of nursing education, it has also motivated me to begin to organize and plan now for my practicum in the fall.
First, I generally consider myself very organized. This project has demonstrated that even an organized person needs to have a plan B! Having completed my previous clinical practicum with G.H.S., it never occurred to me that I would not be able to be a student there again! Imagine that? I can work for them, teach in the clinical environment for a local technical college there, but I cannot be a student there. I now know all about rules and contracts with schools; needless to say, I was unprepared for this little glitch. Fortunately, the instructors at the college where I teach in the clinical environment were very kind and accommodating. I made numerous calls, left endless panicked messages and was able to find an instructor who worked somewhere besides G.H.S. Consequently, for my practicum, I worked in an extended care facility (a far cry from pediatrics) and in several simulation labs. This broadened my view of the nursing program tremendously, however. Consequently, while this was not my first choice for the clinical environment, it proved to be the most enlightening.
While working in the simulation lab, oddly enough, I actually met another instructor who is due to graduate this spring from a different school who had encountered the same practicum problem. Wow! Note to self, there is no such thing as too much planning and organizing! Thus, I will start now planning for the 180 hours due this fall! Therefore, lesson number one involved a simple (well, maybe not so simple) lesson in mechanics!
The simulation labs were amazing. I had never participated in these before. The students of the fundamentals class, which attended the simulation lab, were required to either perform a wet to dry dressing, a female catherization, or nasopharyngeal suctioning. The students each had a backpack full of their own supplies such as catherization kits and suction kits. This was great. This would have been so helpful for me as a tactile learner when I was in school. It would have been wonderful to be able to practice procedural steps over and over with the actual equipment. This could have significantly reduced anxiety and stress! Another simulation lab required more advanced students to enter a room as a team to take care of a patient who was in respiratory distress. Other simulation experiences included having the students work with a mentally ill patient and the delivery of a baby.
I was really impressed with the simulation labs and the experiences they could provide. The ‘patients’ could talk, perspire, cry, cough and groan. They had appropriate pulses, blood pressures and color changes. This provided the students with much needed practice, as well as, the opportunity to critique the care they provided, much like a football coach reviews game footage with the players each week.
The clinical experiences in the extended care facility were also very revealing. This rotation was not just to allow the students to experience elder care but was also structured so that the students learned to work as a team. Each day a charge nurse and a medication nurse were chosen, the other nurses were then assigned patient care. The charge nurse was responsible for checking on the other nurses to ensure that everything was going smoothly and to assist in any way possible. The medication nurse dispensed the required meds and worked with the staff nurses to assure that vital signs were noted and within normal range before medication administration. This experience was very profitable for the students and me. It was interesting how the teacher had combined the experiences of nursing care, leadership and delegation. Teamwork is an essential part of nursing and this provided an excellent environment to teach this.
Didactic teaching was an eye opener! In order to teach the instructor must first and foremost know the material. Consequently, I learned that teaching is very time consuming! I could not simply write some case studies and present them. I had to know the material. This required hours of review. After I digested the material. I then looked for applicable case studies and more often than not, wrote my own. I was excited and pleased when the instructor asked for copies of them when the class was over. Later, I also learned that the students had all performed very well on their test. Yay! While this endeavor was very challenging and time consuming, it was a great experience.
Each week I was able to observe the primary teacher; this included her teaching techniques and some interesting class dynamics. This instructor utilized a PowerPoint and lecture as her main teaching focus, however, embedded in this PowerPoint were tests and relevant video links. Her technique was very interactive and informative. I was impressed that despite one small group of disruptive students she always remained calm and focused. The last day of my presentation the disruptive students were actually sent to a meeting with another teacher and the department head. This situation made it clear that teaching is not for the weak of heart, it takes passion, organization, time, strength of character and dedication!
In conclusion, nothing can replace clinical experiences, for the student nurse or for this budding nurse educator. One can read about teaching all day long but until objectives are written, outlines designed and materials organized and presented, it is not the same. Ultimately, my dream is to educate. Consequently, I am excited to have had this glimpse into the future. This peek has provided a glance into the responsibilities and challenges that await me this fall, for this I am very grateful.