Nursing education and teaching nursing is so complicated.
This week I attended the ATI Nurse Educator Summit to present my poster on the use of technology in the classroom titled “Students’ Voices: Integrating Technology for High Impact Learning“. There were so many wonderful presenters, concepts, projects, and motivational topics. That is why many of use enjoy attending conferences … to be renewed, excited, and refreshed.
As I pondered over all the strategies and ideas I had for improving my own practice, I thought how complicated it all gets. There are the basics to teach and reinforce such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, nursing process, and disease processes. Then you add critical layers of patient safety, effective communication, quality control concepts, leadership, teamwork and collaboration, and skills based practices. Entangled in all of that you need to instill integrity, compassion, value, ethics, caring, critical thinking, empathy, and the importance of the simplest moments of touch and hand holding. But there is still more. There is more illness … lab values to know, arterial blood gas interpretation, electrocardiogram interpretation, using the monitors and leads, managing intravenous fluids, and don’t forget about documentation. Yet we find ways to cover all of this and more but sometimes end up feeling stretched too thin and often disconnected.
Speaking of connections, this leads me to say a few words about the gaps and connections in nursing education with technology, and the types of technology nursing may be proficient at or not. There are some great initiatives being done among nurse educators to integrate technology and have the discussions those in educational technology have been having for a number of years. However, there is so much more available than we can capture fast enough to impact teaching and learning. We need to embrace the champions using these strategies, while reaching out to other disciplines for collaborative ways we can team together to catch up. Technology used in informatics and electronic records is very different (and often outdated) compared to the technologies available for teaching and learning. Digital identity, tools for engagement, and strategies for implementing change to redesign nursing education for the future should be conversations that occur routinely. Online and blended learning is not going away.
In this digital age, where students do need to be more aware then ever about their own digital presence, however, I am still enamored with the simplest reminders from some of the presenters at this conference. Kathy Dempsey talked about the importance of SHEDding up and reevaluating what you hang on to, and what you need to give up to grow. Jane Grassley reminded me how substantial peer support in new and older faculty can ignite or smolder the future paths of educators. Wrapping up the conference for me, Cynthia Clark provided examples and concrete evidence for the need for civility on all levels of people from all places.
What I got out of all of this:
- Embrace life
- Be kinder, and sometimes silent
- Have more tolerance, especially in the most frustrating situations
- Provide time and caring for yourself, so you can do the same for others
- Take chances, even if you are scared
- Be open to change, big and small
Is it possible to both simplify to these core values while simultaneously embracing technology change and the future. I am sure trying to. As I leave one state and a nursing conference to head to another state for an educational technology conference, Online Learning Consortium Innovate 2016, I realize I am in the gap … and I am balancing so far.