Qualities of a Great Nurse Educator
Being an RN for the past 32 years and continuing my education in hopes of becoming a nurse educator, I have always thought about the qualities that make a great educator. Since 2004, when I returned to school to obtain my BSN, and then again in 2008 to obtain my MHA (and soon will be completing my MSN) I have dealt with many educators thus compiling the traits of a quality educator from a student’s perspective.
I believe there are more than five qualities needed to be a great educator, however I will address five of the most critical, in my opinion.
1.Passion. First and most important is having the passion to be a nurse educator, otherwise you will not be a good one and of no benefit to those you teach. Many do not realize that teaching is a difficult job and a critical one to ensure those you teach receive the best possible learning experience. Personally, I believe passion in all aspects of nursing is a critical quality, but as a nurse educator, an essential one.
2.Patience. Without patience for yourself and your students, you will fail in creating a disciplined and rational environment for learning. With patience, the nurse educator places herself/himself in the best possible position to overcome anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure, which can be part of your own teaching style as well as imparted to students.
3.Socially approachable. As a nurse educator, you are a role model for your students. First and foremost, the nurse educator needs to have a desire to share their experience, both clinical and theory, with student nurses and have good social skills that will enable the educator to be comfortable and interact well with the increased diversity found in classrooms today. The nurse educator must feel confident to interact and provide appropriate opportunities to know and support student success.
4.Reflection. As a nurse educator or even as a nurse, there may be make mistakes made that could be embarrassing in front of a classroom of students. Therefore, self-reflection is very important as well, as to be sure that you are a constant learner, providing yourself with an opportunity to continue to grow and hone your skills as an educator, and decrease the risk of critical errors that could cause you to lose credibility as a teacher.
5.Dedication. A great educator must be dedicated to learning and growing. No matter how long one may teach, remaining current is critical to providing quality teaching to student nurses, and providing a positive example to faculty and students by creating a forum for inspiration. In addition, one must be dedicated to ensuring accuracy with all she/he teaches. Being a nurse educator can be challenging, but with dedication and real passion it can be extremely rewarding.
These five qualities are among those that stand out in making a great nursing instructor – one that will make a student’s life memorable and will provide the best learning experience. It is my goal to become an excellent nurse educator, as I believe this is where experienced nursing professionals can provide the greatest good for the future. However, to do so we must be aware of what it takes to be a great nurse educator. How graduate nurses provide care will be a direct reflection if we have succeeded in our teaching, so if your desire is to be an educator, for the sake of future nurses and patients, do it with excellence!