Before entering the nursing profession in 2001, I was a soldier in the Army doing logistical work. A path I chose for the opportunity to serve a great nation and to achieve my dream of becoming a nurse. When the opportunity presented itself for me to reenlist in the Army in exchange for going to school it was an easy choice despite the many challenges that came with the decision to go to school. I remember participating in field exercises, and at the end of the day being shuttled off to school in military vehicles, sometimes smelling sweaty and most of the time tired from training all day in the sun. My motivation for getting a nursing education then and an advanced nursing education now can best be described as a passion.
The initial attainment of a bachelor’s degree taught me that nurses use knowledge acquired through education and their clinical experiences to guide their practice. Describing nursing knowledge and what nurses do is complex. Nurses, just like scientists, rely on evidence to guide their policies and practices. As an art, nursing requires the acquisition of interpersonal skills which include ethical and caring values, beliefs, and standards unique to nursing which demonstrate respect for human dignity (ANA, 2010). Nursing education must promote a commitment to scholarly inquiry, social equity, advocacy, and life-long learning in order to meet the healthcare needs of client populations now, and in the near future. Guided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2011), essentials of nursing education call for the faculty to prepare students to practice and lead in a rapidly evolving healthcare environment. The goal of nursing education is to prepare entry-level nurses who are able to provide effective, safe, competent, and appropriate nursing care to diverse populations in a variety of health care delivery settings.
The education I acquired as a nurse has taken me above anything I could have dreamed of in my life. I had the opportunity to care for people along the continuum from birth, through middle age, old age, and death. I served our countries heroes and indigenous people in austere environments during war times. I had the chance to meet people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. All of these experiences and beliefs impacted positively on my personal, professional, and educational choices. Sculpting a personal nursing philosophy defines my values and beliefs about what nursing means to me and to inspire others.
My Teaching Philosophy
I am an agent of change; change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity. My teaching philosophy is to encourage critical thinking as I believe without critical thinking skills, inquiries, reviews of educational research, and assessments of the ideas of others we become hostages to prior beliefs, biases, and faulty or misguided assumptions.
An often overlooked and key component of critical thinking is a reflection, an active learning strategy that assists practitioners and learners to access, make sense of, and learn through work experiences to achieve more satisfying work; thus, developing professional actions that are aligned with personal beliefs and values. As such, I like to place emphasis on reflection and learning through discourse, journaling, keeping a portfolio, and conducting self-evaluations. Thus, the reflective practitioner and learner can view practice and learning in light of an illumination process. I believe reflective learning will help practitioners and learners take control of their learning by actively accessing what they know from earlier experiences, what they need to know at the current moment, and how they will bridge that gap. Further, reflection can act as a conduit to prompt individuals to step back and consider the best approach to handling a task or a problem—such as, to ask the right questions which define tasks, express problems, and delineate issues to achieve the desired outcome.
I like to be dynamic and innovative in my teaching practices to empower learners to take ownership of their education with the goal to help learners realize they are responsible for their learning outcomes. Good teaching must be planned and conducted at the learner’s level and by understanding how learners learn. Understanding how learners learn best assists me in choosing teaching approaches and instructional methods (e.g. demonstration, observation, and guided practice), to facilitate learners to perceive, process, store, and recall what they are being taught.
I am committed to the whole person and endeavor to promote a climate of caring and trust. I also strive to help learners set challenging but achievable goals and support learners to become more confident and self-sufficient. Emotional intelligence underlies my teaching philosophy. As such, by monitoring my emotions as well as monitoring the learner’s feelings, I am careful not to superimpose personal emotions on students, as well as to use this information to guide thinking into action.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2011). The Essentials of Master’s Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. Washington, DC: AACN.
American Nurses Association. (2010). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice. (2nd ed.). Silver Spring, MD.: American Nurses Association.