SUPPORT FROM AN EPIC NURSE EDUCATOR IS HOW TO MAKE STUDENTS SECURE IN A CRISIS
CARING, COMPASSION, AND CONCERN ARE SECOND NATURE TO NURSE EDUCATORS — PANDEMIC OR NOT
The academic requirement to hold regularly scheduled office hours is a mainstay in the life of nurse educators and a lifeline for nursing students. The novel coronavirus pandemic, however, has probably required you to make a quick pivot from previously being available to students in person to now offering advice in a virtual setting.
Before the sudden switch to online-only learning, we often saw few students take advantage of faculty office hours. I would guess you’ve seen a change in that regard during the COVID-19 emergency. Many of your students today have likely been clamoring for your wisdom, your guidance, and your genuine caring.
The thing is, even though they may not consciously realize it (or want others to know), our students crave connectedness with us, their nurse educators. They need our feedback to grow. They need positive affirmations to help them step confidently into the next level of providing competent care. And they need all this now more than ever as they face a crisis that has rocked their world.
So, before I go any further, let me quickly stop to say: THANK YOU!
We see you, and we salute you! You’ve stepped up — as nurse educators always do — to provide that crucial connectedness for your learners through your virtual office hours.
NURSE EDUCATORS CONQUERING THEIR CHALLENGES
In my role with ATI Nursing Education, I have the privilege of working with and learning from hundreds of nurse educators in the Midwest. I’ve been so impressed with how nursing faculty have quickly adapted to using online platforms for meetings. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen? Everyone has become very comfortable with turning on their computer cameras.
That wasn’t something that readily happened pre-COVID-19.
In the last 2 months, though, your increased confidence in being seen during virtual meetings has given me the pleasure of meeting your family members — and your fur babies! While it is ironic to find we have been humanized by this new virtual world, I consider it a positive impact of the pandemic. And I think it shows that nurse educators need that sense of connectedness with others, as well, just like their students.
Perhaps you, too, are realizing that virtual office hours are as important to you as they are to your students.
FACULTY PROVIDING CARE AND COMFORT
One nurse educator-extraordinaire at a large university in the Midwest confirmed my hunch about students’ recent use of office hours.
She shared that she’s noted an uptick in students logging in for virtual-office visits since the pandemic rerouted nursing programs to online-only learning. She said her students used the virtual office hours more at the start of the pandemic, illustrating a need to stay connected in times of uncertainty. She also felt that many students were experiencing a bit of “homesickness” at the time and needed a “mom-moment” with someone they knew and trusted — a connection to the routine and normal.
If you knew this educator, you’d understand why her students find comfort and solace in her words, actions, and smile. I suspect she’s just like each of you — always there for her students, role-modeling genuine care and concern.
One of my colleagues said recently that she felt the history books were going to contain many stories of how the nursing profession and nursing education field stepped up to provide care and comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic. I think she’s probably right.
For that, you again deserve thanks. I hope you recognize yourself for being a pioneer in nursing education during times of pandemic!
There are many other far-reaching impacts of the coronavirus crisis. I urge you to stay focused on the positive ones. If you didn’t previously teach an online course, for example, be amazed and proud at how quickly you swiveled, learned, and made it happen for you and your students! Ponder the new skills you have now as a result (and be sure to update your CV accordingly!). And, again — I can’t emphasize it enough — give yourself credit. (Along those lines, if you haven’t read Dr. Annie Moore-Cox’s article acknowledging the transition nurse educators have made in converting their nursing courses to online formats in the blink of an eye, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and check out Annie’s awesome words. She’ll make you feel like a million bucks!)
Additionally, in all that you’re doing to keep nursing education rolling along during the pandemic, I echo the sentiments of Dr. Cindy Clark: Please take good care of yourselves. (Check out Dr. Clark’s recent articles for real ways to nurture yourself and to stay optimistic as you create a new normal for yourself, your students, and your nursing program.)
Allow me to close by sharing my favorite expression of gratitude: Thank you for all you do and for HOW you do it.