Nurse educators transform lives – every day students, nurses, patients and communities learn and flourish because an educator took the time to care, listen, share, teach and inspire. This blog provides an opportunity to explore what makes our work meaningful, memorable and transformative.
The genre of blogging is free from the normal publishing conventions and my foray into the world of social media has been an exciting experience. Over the past 12 months I have been a little self-indulgent, reflecting on and writing about contemporary issues in new, eclectic and imaginative ways. Over the next year or so I plan to spend more time blogging about and profiling new (and some not so new) nursing education articles that have the potential to transform the way we teach in higher education contexts and in clinical settings.
I want to acknowledged Siobhan Allen (http://www.siobhanallen.co.uk) for the beautiful stained glass and mosaic pieces that I’ve used recurring metaphor for my website. Each of Siobhan’s pieces of glass is unique and beautiful in its own right, but together they create magnificent works of art. In the same way, I believe my research is multifaceted and illuminative because it was undertaken in a collaborative way with friends and colleagues who share a common vision about the power and potential of transformative learning.
The theme of International Nurses Day 2018 is ‘Nurses … a voice to lead’. So much has been written about nursing leadership … definitions of leadership, leadership theories and styles, leadership attributes and approaches etc … so, rather than revisit much of what we already know, this blog post illustrates my personal philosophy of leadership as illustrated in the life and work of three nursing leaders who I’ve been honoured to know for many years.
Each of these leaders demonstrates leadership that is informed by empathy and a service orientation. Their values are evident in what they do and say and how they live their lives. Each of these women has overcome considerable personal challenges but has not succumbed to self-pity. Rather, their experiences have served to strengthen them and have become a source of inspiration for many. This year the International Council of Nurses encourages nurses to use share their stories. So in this blog I share the stories of Jean Gersbach, Glenys Chapman and Pamela van der Riet, three incredible nursing leaders … Read more →
The last few weeks have been a turmoil of final exams, graduation balls and completion ceremonies for final semester nursing students. This is always a special time of year when we reflect on the success and accomplishments of our students and wish them well as they embark on the next stage of their journey. Among the hundreds of students who are completing their nursing degree this year is my son. So this year’s celebrations have been particularly meaningful and exciting for me.
The ‘tips for improving the quality of mentoring’ provided in this post were developed by Alexandria Wilson and Micaela Cassar, and were originally presented as an educational poster submitted during their undergraduate nursing degree. As Alexandria and Micaela were mentored by a number of nurses while completing their clinical placements, they are well positioned to provide these illuminative, evidence-based and practical insights about mentoring. I feel honoured that they have given me permission to share these important tips on my blog.
A few weeks ago my friend and colleague, Dr Lorna MacLellan, graduated with a PhD. Professor Isabel Higgins and I had the honour of supervising her throughout her candidature. Lorna explored the transition experiences of ten Nurse Practitioners (NPs), interviewing them each 3-4 times during their first 12 months of practice. The findings from this study revealed a pervasive problem in the upper echelons of the nursing profession. Although the metaphor of ‘nurses eating their young’ has become an a recognised part of the nursing vernacular, Lorna’s study identified that bullying also pervades senior levels of the nursing profession and manifests as ‘tall poppy syndrome’.
Our guest Blogger this week is Associate Professor Sarah O’Shea from the University of Wollongong. I have known Sarah for nearly ten years and for much of the time we lived next door to each other. Sarah and I have much in common … we were both the first in our families to attend university, both immigrants to Australia, both mums who struggled with ‘imposter syndrome’ as we juggled PhD candidature and full time work. Perhaps most important though is our shared commitment to student success and the incredible joy we experience when we watch our former students cross the stage at graduation, particularly when they have struggled with challenging life experiences.
Since moving to Wollongong Sarah’s academic journey has flourished and I have watched with admiration her inspirational First in the Family research. In this post Sarah shares Marlee’s story of transition to university, what it means to her and her family, and how it illustrates the types of hurdles that many first in family nursing students encounter.
In May 2016 I went to an Empathy conference in Oxford, UK. For someone who is a self-confessed English history devotee the opportunity to meander around the 12th century university college buildings in the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ was wonderful. However, as an educator and researcher with a passion for exploring the concept of empathy, the conference was thought provoking and inspiring.
I’ve become increasingly interested in empathy over the last decade. For a long time I thought that people were either born with an empathetic disposition (as I assumed most health professionals were), or they weren’t (these are the narcissistic people we’ve all met at some stage in our lives). I didn’t conceptualise empathy as a skill that should and could be taught.
This week I am delighted to introduce our guest blogger, Professor Margaret McAllister, a friend and warmly regarded colleague. Margaret is a gifted story teller and researcher whose written works and conference presentations are both engaging and provocative. In this post Margaret dispels some of the myths associated with ‘the good nurse’ and challenges educators to consider the use of negative stories in their teaching.
Illness and resilience stories humanise the healthcare experience, and because they are often imbued with layers of meaning, can prompt critical reflection. This reflection can go several ways – we can be motivated to think back on the story and perhaps our own lives, and we can be urged to think ahead towards the future, perhaps changing the way we think or act. This is the transformative power of compelling stories. Another benefit of stories is that they come in multiple modes and so, when available, we can access them by reading, viewing, or listening.
I deliberately titled my ‘Blog Educating Nurses … Transforming Lives’ as I believe that one of the most rewarding aspects of being an educator is guiding nursing students as they step across the threshold and embark on the journey of transformation from layperson to qualified health professional. During this process of transformative learning, disorientating dilemmas become a catalyst for growth and change1, and students learn to question taken-for-granted ideas, attitudes, beliefs, habits of mind and feelings, as they begin to experience fundamental shifts in perspective. This transformation requires learning activities that challenge students to think more deeply and broadly, to question their assumptions and prejudices, and to see their world and the world of healthcare through a new lens.
Too often as educators we are short-sighted; seeing only the immediate impact of our teaching on students, but forgetting that every hour of every day a nurse is providing person-centred, safe and effective care because of something they learned from us. Emails like the one below remind us of the impact of our teaching …
I had to share this moment with you! I have been in hospital having surgery. I was extremely impressed at the precise way procedures were carried out by one of the nurses, especially with taking obs and the pain management etc. She was fantastic, not missing a detail in all the procedures she was doing. So much so that I commented on the professional way she went about her duties. It prompted me to ask where she had trained and it was Newcastle.
The conversation continued and she mentioned learning about a girl called Vanessa. She said she had never forgotten what she had learned about patient safety from Vanessa’s story. I then let her know that I was Vanessa’s father. She became a bit overwhelmed and said she would never forget that moment.