Facilitating Learning in Nursing Programs

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

A nurse educator's position often requires them to extend beyond the role of a traditional educator. Read on to learn how nurse educators make such a big impact on the student experience and profession.

Contextual Environment

A sizable portion of nursing education occurs in a traditional classroom, but nurse educators are found in more places than standard rooms with chalkboards and stereotypical pupils.

Nurse educators are knowledge and experience facilitators, and can be found in hospital or outpatient settings, operating rooms and school nursing offices, in simulated learning environments, and so many more places. In short, whenever there is an opportunity for a nursing student to grab clinical experiences, a nurse educator is sure to be around.

Less Stereotypical Students

In addition, the historical nursing student has changed. While young, unmarried, female nursing students have been the norm, today, nursing students from a multitude of backgrounds, lifestyles, and family dynamics are enrolled in nursing school.

A bigger variety of students means a bigger variety in learning styles. Whether a large lecture group of 100, or a small clinical rotation group of 6-8 students, each student's learning style affects the group dynamics, and the nurse educator must remain aware of this phenomenon and flexible to meet the group's needs.

Experience and Background

While it is typical for a nurse educator to support and facilitate education in their area of specialty, they may also leverage their teaching strategies with their prior experiences.

For example, say nurse educator Trenton has several strong experiences in community health care from a job focusing on inpatient case management. Case managers ensure the patient has a safe transition from the hospital back to their home in terms of medical equipment and social support.

Even though the primary setting of Trenton's job took place within a hospital, his experience as a case manager has connected him with community resources and programming. This means he may be ideal for inpatient clinical instruction, community health nursing, or a variety of other clinical rotation experiences.

What Makes an Effective Nurse Educator?

As with Trenton, an effective nurse educator one needs to:

  • Function in traditional and nontraditional learning environments
  • Facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skill-building across different generations
  • Give care and attention to individual and group dynamics
  • Draw from a multitude of professional and personal nursing experiences and backgrounds

Why Become a Nurses Educator?

Many nurses are nurse educators without even realizing it. For example, the nurse who frequently precepts brand new nurses fresh out of school is a nurse educator, albeit less formal than an educator within an academic institution.

The nurse who is passionate about nasogastric tubes and teaches her fellow colleagues how to insert the tube as gently and efficiently as possible is also an educator.

Nursing educators vary in roles and expertise, so what is the glue that binds them? Collectively, nursing educators are passionate people who advocate for the safety and well-being of patients as much as the advancement of nursing standards. Nurse educators are typically:

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