Kathleen W., MSN, Ph.D., RN – Associate Professor and Chair of Texas Nursing School
35 Years in Nursing
What is the best part of your job?
Knowing that I make an impact on the education of and provide learning opportunities for students who want to become nurses and those advancing their nursing careers. The ability to provide students a place where they can be engaged in the learning process, express their ideas, connect with others, develop a deeper understanding of concepts, think critically, and reflect. The best part of being a nurse educator is finding ways to help students develop the necessary skills to be successful in nursing school and in the profession of nursing.
Knowing if you are making that difference and understanding the state of healthcare so that you are preparing students for a career in the ever-changing healthcare environment. As an educator, the challenge is providing opportunities for meaningful instruction to students, they are then able to construct their own meaning, apply that knowledge, learn from others, and be motivated to be lifelong learners who stay in the profession of nursing.
What has been a particularly rewarding moment in nursing education?
When students graduate and connect back with you on how much they enjoy the work they are doing. Learning that all the time and energy spent was worth every moment.
Advice for nursing students?
Stay true to who you are; nursing is an awesome profession. It is rewarding, and your passion will carry you through on days that are tough. Stay strong in your conviction that you will be an advocate for your patients when they need you. Believe in the power that you have of the knowledge, skills, and abilities to promote health, prevent disease, and advance the science and art of nursing. Provide compassionate care in order to help others in the evolving healthcare system. Develop career aspirations that allow you to move through your career and build your practice. Work to inspire others to care for those who cannot care for themselves. Don’t forget to turn around and help the next person in line to become a nurse. Be a friend and a mentor.
Those who want to become nurse educators?
Work towards a terminal degree. We need to encourage students to earn advanced degrees. Love what you do and inspire others to achieve their dreams.
What has changed the most during your time in nursing?
As a nurse of 35 years, I have seen many changes occur in the healthcare system. One change is the clothes nurses now wear. We once wore the white uniform with nurses cap; now nurses wear scrubs, and in some cases, there are many color options. The access and care of patients have changed. Many diagnoses required longer stays in the hospital than they do now. Technology and research have advanced our care, and the support of evidence-based practice has provided better quality and safer care.
Education has seen changes. I am a third-generation nurse in my family. My grandmother was the first to achieve education after high school by completing a nursing diploma program in 1937. She worked as a nurse until she retired in her 80s. The second generation of nurses included my mother and her sister (my aunt). They were also graduates of a nursing diploma program; however, they were the first to achieve bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. The third generation of nurses in the family includes me, my brother, and a cousin (my aunt’s daughter). Two of the three have completed doctoral degrees in nursing advancing beyond the level of education of our parents. What’s new or changed in nursing is the ability to advance your degree and to challenge yourself to be a lifelong learner and continue to advance the science and practice of nursing.
How has Nursing Central helped your program?
It is essential to mentor and encourages inquiry by promoting a change in practice using the best evidence and integrating technological tools into the curriculum. Today, nurses are expected to make clinical decisions about the healthcare provided to patients on a daily basis. Utilizing the evidence-based practice (EBP) process and incorporating the use of technology has become an integral part of a nurse’s practice. Products like Nursing Central allow students and nurses to have that information in the palm of their hand. To access information quickly allows one to provide safer patient care at the point of care. With the increased use of technology in healthcare, integrating Nursing Central into a nursing curriculum helps students learn to critically think through their actions by having access to information at the point of care and to make decisions about the care they will provide in a safe manner.
Has Nursing Central helped in overcoming any teaching obstacles?
The use of technology is beneficial, however, one must understand barriers and adaptability of products. Faculty had to learn to modify the learning environment and reflect on the use of materials by learning how the product could enhance and strengthen learning. They also had to learn how to use the product so that they can integrate it into their coursework. Nursing Central is now fundamental to the teaching and learning process in that it is used by faculty and students in the classroom, clinical and simulation activities. It is necessary when integrating technology products such as Nursing Central, to remove barriers so that faculty can promote meaningful technology integration at all levels that correspond to deeper learning.
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