As an RN for the past 32 years and now taking up nursing classes to be an educator, I have always thought about the qualities that make a good teacher. Since returning to school in 2004 to obtain my BSN, and then again in 2008 to obtain my MHA (and soon will be completing my MSN), I have been dealing with many educators. Thus, I was able to compile the traits of a quality educator from a student’s perspective.
I believe there are more than five qualities needed to be the best educator. However, I will address five of the most critical, in my opinion.
First and most important is having the passion to be a good nurse educator. Otherwise, you will not be a good one and will be of no benefit to those you teach. Many do not realize that teaching is a difficult job and it is critical 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 if you are teaching, it is essential.
Without the patience for yourself and your students, you will fail at creating a disciplined and rational environment for learning in your nursing classes. With patience, the nurse educator places herself/himself in the best possible position to overcome anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. This can be part of your own teaching style and can be also imparted to students.
As a nurse educator, you are a role model for your students. You need to have a desire to share experience, both clinical and theory, with student nurses. You should also have good communication skills that will enable you to be comfortable and interact well with the more diverse student population found in classrooms today. You should be confident enough to interact and provide appropriate opportunities to know and support student success.
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 nursing students. Therefore, self-reflection is very important as well. This is to ensure that you are a constant learner by providing yourself with an opportunity to continue growing and to hone your skills as an educator. It will also decrease the risk of critical errors that could cause you to lose credibility as a teacher.
A great educator must be dedicated to learning and growing. No matter how long one may teach, remaining current is critical to ensure that you offer quality education to student nurses. You must also be a positive example to faculty and students by creating a forum for inspiration. In addition, you must be dedicated to ensuring accuracy in everything you teach.
These five qualities are among those that make a good instructor stand out, one that will make a student’s life memorable and will provide the best learning experience.
It is also 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. After all, 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 and teach nursing classes, do it with excellence for the sake of future nurses and patients!
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