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 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’.
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.