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Essay: The Nurse Educator Role

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  • Published: 22 September 2015*
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  • Words: 1,287 (approx)
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A Nurse’s educator role that this writer selected from a handful of different function is
that of a staff development role. Although this chosen role is challenging, it is rewarding. A staff
development person can see the transition of a newly hired staff nurse and at the same time
continues to transform the experienced nurse’s competence in their field or practice. ‘Nursing
education strengthens professional competence and similarly strengthens personal character to
produce a nurse fit for all dimensions of practice’ (Glenn, 2014).
Education has such a crucial role to play; it is an instrument to develop an individual as a
whole. It is an opportunity for personal growth and success in life. Teaching a newly hired nurse
(either new graduates or experienced nurses); the educator can see instantaneously the growth
that a staff has accomplished. It is an achievement knowing that as a staff development educator,
one has contributed to this phase of their professional development.
A staff development person work in different practice settings and environment, some
work in the hospital, others work in clinical settings functioning in orienting, precepting and
managing staff nurses, new graduates and experienced nurses. They have a tremendous
responsibility, including facilitating the learning experiences of nurses, assisting in transforming
a diverse group of nurses in their practice that is safe, quality, and effective. According to
Swihart, 2009, ‘these practitioners are more than educators’. Further, according to The American
Nurses Association (2009), a staff development person is distinguished as a ‘professional
specialty based on the sciences of nursing, technology, research and evidence-based practice,
practice-based evidence, change, communication, leadership, and educations” (Swihart, 2009).
Through in services and competency management, the staff development person
addresses knowledge and skills related to environments of care, job functions, and
decision-making responsibilities. Provision of continuing education provided by the staff
development person helps nurses meet regulatory requirement like certification criteria, licenses
mandates, and The Joint Commission, among others as stated further by Swihart, 2009. It is of
utmost importance for nurse educator to possess an ability to guide learners on mastery of vital
skills and knowledge to transition them into highly competent, qualified nurses. ‘Through
continuing education and staff development nurses stay abreast of current best practices and
trends’ (Dorin, 2010).
Most frequently, “inexperienced faculty often thinks in terms of their own teaching when
the emphasis should be on student learning — a critical distinction’ (Penn, 2008). According to
the National League for Nursing in transforming nursing education, a position statement is as
follows: ‘Tomorrow’s nursing education must be research based, and it is best taught by
individuals who are prepared for the faculty role and who demonstrate competence in the
multiple components of that role’ (Ortelli, T., 2013). How effective was the teaching process?
Did the student achieve the objectives and goals of the For years, nurses have steadily been more
educated and adopting new roles for themselves, but the process has been slow and not enough
nurses are prepared for the challenges of the existing and future healthcare.
The breakthrough law known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010, ‘has
opened new doors to educational opportunities and career advancement for nurses’ (Stokowski
2011). With increasing faculty shortage, one has to step up and make a commitment to
withstand nursing profession’s future. Transitioning into the staff development role will be quite
a journey that requires a calling, a strong commitment that promises a bright future for nursing as
a profession.
Collaborative Aspect of the Nurse Educator Role
Critical in the art and science of teaching and learning is the educator and the students; it
is imperative to include in the educator role the collaborative aspect of the education, ‘to
determine the extent to which an educational activity is efficient, effective, and useful for those
who participate as learners, teachers, or sponsors (Bastable, 2008, p. 588). course? Did he/she
feel confident in what was taught and learned? With much stress towards evidence-based
practice, the essence of the teaching – evaluation method is a key. Teaching in nursing is a
complex activity that integrates the art and science of nursing and clinical practice in the
teaching-learning process (Billings, D. M. & Halstead, J. A. 2012, p. 9). As a nurse it is
invaluable to see how a new nurse on board during orientation period takes with them
information that is vital and empowering. As a person, it gives the writer pleasure to be able to
assist in imparting knowledge. Embedded in our role as nurses is the art of teaching. Teaching is
a major aspect of the nurse’s professional role (Carpenter & Bell, 2002, a cited by Bastable, 2008
p. 4). The magnitude of nurse educator’s responsibility to the learner sufficed to say is immense.
Resume/Experiences of the Preceptor
The writer’s preceptor’s work ethics and passion as an educator are the driving factor in
her interest on staff development area. Her preceptor’s/interviewee’s resume includes a 19 years
and more experience as a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s degree in both Medical-Surgical
setting as well as Psychiatry. She also has numerous certifications as Assistant Nurse Care
Coordinator, Certification in Psychiatry, and a Master’s degree in her field. The writer is inspired
by preceptor/interviewee’s commitment to the profession as a whole, her growth both as a person
and as a professional, and ultimately her role in aiding delivery of a safe and effective care that is
deserving of our patients/clients.
Development of Experiences to Meet the Role
The writer role as educator originated and continues to expand from as far as the writer
can remember. Being the eldest in a large family (5 brothers and 4 sisters), the writer rekindles
moments when she has taken on the task of teaching her younger siblings on how to read, solve
math problems, or help them with their homework and house chores. Never realizing that it
actually progresses into her role as a nurse! A solid foundation and first-hand knowledge of
academics and clinical background will guide a nurse in her pursuit to teach. Nurses ‘play a
pivotal role in strengthening the nursing workforce, serving as role models and providing the
leadership needed to implement evidence-based practice and improve patient outcomes’
(Bartels, 2005).
Being a good clinician however is not adequate as an educator. Essential to the role is
‘that a core of knowledge and skills entails the ability to facilitate learning, advance the total
development and professional socialization of the learner, design appropriate learning
experiences, and evaluate learning outcomes’ (NLN, 2013). In order to meet the role
expectations of a staff development person, the writer needs to develop the ability to have a
supportive, positive relationship with the staff and the institution, as well as the ability to
increase and sustain the role as a whole through knowledge of the latest trends in education
related to health care.
Nurses have tremendous, challenging, and rewarding roles. And as educators ‘nurse
educators must possess a solid clinical background, strong communication skills, and a high
level of cultural competence in order to succeed. Educators must be lifelong learners, and
flexible enough to adapt curriculum and teaching methods in response to innovations in nursing
science and ongoing changes in the practice environment’ (Bartels, 2005). It is a role that
Florence Nightingale, who is so ahead of her time, has envisioned for nurses so long ago. In one
of her excerpts, she summarized: ‘Training is to teach a nurse, her business, that is, to observe
exactly, to understand, to know exactly, to do, to tell exactly, in such stupendous issues as life
and death, health and disease. Training is to enable a nurse to act for the best in carrying out her
orders, not as a machine, but as a nurse; as an intelligent and responsible being’.

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