NEW YORK NURSE: September 2010
by Erin Silk
It’s your first day of clinical. You feel overwhelmed, stressed-out and just plain not ready. But you’re not a nursing student – you’re an instructor.
More than 100 new clinical nurse adjuncts and seasoned professors attended NYSNA’s “Faculty Camp 2010” on Aug. 2-3. New instructors learned to tackle their teaching fears, while experienced professors embraced new methods for mentoring.
Faculty Camp presenters Barbara Penn and Lydia Zager shared valuable insight on teaching nursing’s basics, such as measurement of vital signs and communicating with patients.
As director of member education for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in Washington, D.C., Barbara Penn is responsible for planning and implementing ten of the association’s annual conferences and other national faculty development initiatives.
Lydia Zager is director of the Center for Nursing Leadership at the University of South Carolina’s College of Nursing and is the course coordinator for the medical-surgical nursing courses.
Together, the two faculty development experts discussed how to decide what instructors “want their students to look like at the end of the semester” and how to structure a clinical program—from required reading, to organizing class and clinical activities each semester.
When referring to the vast amount of nursing information that must be imparted to students, Zager said, “Our job as faculty is to distinguish between what they need to know, versus what is nice to know.”
Penn said that it’s important for students, busy adult learners in particular, to have a feeling of control over their coursework. She said that instructors can accomplish this in the classroom by offering choices and letting students help decide what will be learned. Penn also points to flexibility as an asset and says that an instructor who answers questions via e-mail or text, allows for late notifications for attendance or assignments, affirms the changing needs of today’s student. “It’s no longer about the teacher and teaching, but about the learner and learning,” Penn said.
Workshop attendee and new instructor Rachele Davis of Pace University was nervous about the upcoming semester. “Having graduated not that long ago, I feel closer to student life, rather than the instructor’s world,” she explained. “But after two days, I have a framework for how I will structure my class. I think I can actually do this!”
That sentiment was echoed by several attendees who reported a confidence boost. Many pointed to helpful strategies learned in the workshop such as: methods for motivating students, organizing activities for meaningful experiences, and how to set class expectations. Seasoned professors, who currently serve as mentors, said the ideas for developing new clinical faculty were refreshing and that the course should be a requirement for all new instructors. NYSNA’s Faculty Camp will return in June 2011.