Nursing Educators: Roles, Responsibilities, and Relationships

Abstract

Nursing educators play an important role in the healthcare system since they provide the necessary skills to students who plan to work in the healthcare industry. A nursing educator assumes the function of a professional nurse and an educator/teacher who has further qualifications in nursing education. The roles and responsibilities of a nursing educator are very critical in ensuring that the healthcare sector receives the best and qualified nursing specialists in various areas to warrant proper provision of health care to individuals who need it. As a highly critical health care function, nursing educators provide important specializations that have overarching competencies that touch on their professional, ethical, and legal practice. This paper addresses competencies such as mediation for partnership, leadership, and planning. The goal is to show how they challenge nursing educators with reference to their roles and responsibilities in different teaching settings.

Introduction

To ensure that nursing educators provide the necessary skills to nursing students, they follow the guidelines of important competencies that put forward a framework that directs how they interact and teach students. Without such competencies, the students who are being produced by various nursing institutions might lack the necessary skills to respond to the nursing demands in the healthcare sector. Such competencies, which are a requirement for all nursing educators, ensure uniformity of skills and knowledge for all nurses, regardless of the institution where they receive training. They eliminate unnecessary education and learning gaps that would otherwise exist if no specific competencies were in place for all nursing educators. Such an approach guarantees that all nurses will attain the same skills and knowledge to ensure not only the consistency of services to health care seekers but also accountability at all levels (American Nurses Association, 2010). This paper discusses various competencies of nursing educators. The goal is to show how they relate to the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of nurse educators from diverse teaching settings.

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Nursing Competencies

The National League for Nursing (NLN) provides nine core competencies that are built around the need to provide health promotion knowledge and ethical values (Barry, Battel-Kirk & Dempsey, 2012). These competencies are very critical in terms of ensuring that all nursing professionals meet the required proficient skills and knowledge frameworks as determined by the core competencies that guide the nursing occupation (Valizadeh, Abedi, Zamanzadeh & Fathiazar, 2008). These nine core competencies include enabling change, mediating through partnership, communication, headship, valuation, forecasting, execution, and appraisal and research. A nursing educator is mandated to provide professional training that adheres to the above core competencies. By meeting the requirements of the core competencies, nursing educators can ensure that the healthcare sector is receiving and/or being run by highly qualified professionals who have the necessary nursing skills and knowledge. They have to uphold the ethical considerations that ensure that health care is provided not only with the highest level of competence but also with maximum adherence to ethics (Barry et al., 2012). The following is an analysis of two important competencies for nursing educators:

Mediating through Partnership

Providing quality healthcare is a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder role that requires close partnerships that ensure that the respective stakeholders play their roles throughout the process. One of the key competencies that are required of nursing professionals is the ability to foster the relationships that promote adequate and high-quality healthcare services at all levels (American Nurses Association, 2010). For nurse educators, it is very important to consider the important role that partnerships with other institutions that have a link to health care can play in terms of making the difference between good and bad health care (Keating, 2014). With such knowledge and understanding, the nursing educator is best placed to pass on the skills to learners who will work in the field of nursing after finishing their studies.

Firstly, a qualified nursing educator who applies the above competency considers various areas that ensure that the provided education is not only of high quality, but also of one that adheres to the requirements of various important stakeholders in the sector. For instance, it is very important for the educator to ensure that the nursing curriculum meets the standards and requirements of various authorities and relevant statutory bodies with the jurisdiction of the country where such bodies exert authority (Caldwell, Lu & Harding, 2010). Adhering to the requirements ensures that nursing educators can provide the necessary skills that are agreeable to the statutory bodies such that the students’ qualifications can be recognized after they complete their courses and training. Such recognition also allows learners to be acknowledged as registered nurses, hence allowing them to practice legally. Failure of nursing educators to meet the requirements of statutory bodies can spell doom on the future aspirations of their nursing practice.

Secondly, the nursing educators have to ensure that the curriculum that they use in the teaching process not only meets but also reflects the institutional philosophy, the current health care and nursing trends, and community and societal needs (Barry et al., 2012). In this process, learners can get important skills that can allow them to work and practice in the complex, dynamic, and multicultural health care environment that awaits them (Schulte & Sherwill-Navaro, 2009). Consequently, in ensuring that learners get the important skills for approaching the healthcare environment, nurse educators are required to work closely with various communities and institutions that expose the learners to the complexities of the real-world nursing practice (Cangelosi, Crocker & Sorrell, 2009). The curriculum also plays a very important role in advancing this requirement of the nursing competency. Hence, it is critical for nursing educators to ensure that the curriculum prepares learners for the dynamic and complex nursing environment.

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Thirdly, a nursing educator must understand that the nursing environment is ever changing and that today’s approaches may not be applicable to work in the future. In this case, it is important to ensure close collaborations with key stakeholders to warrant curriculum revisions to reflect the changing and emerging students’ needs and societal and contemporary health care trends (Ploeg et al., 2010). One of the most important approaches to achieving the above goals is to revise the curriculum based on the above requirements of the society and the learning environment. Through the approaches, nursing educators can ensure that students are not getting outdated skills that will make them ill prepared for work after they complete their studies.

Nursing educators have a major role to play in the process of curriculum designing and delivery at all levels. In this case, nursing educators must work closely together with various stakeholders to ensure that the curriculum development process considers the various policies that exist in the government of the day while at the same time having the capacity of influencing the healthcare sector positively (Fetter, 2009). Such considerations ensure that the curriculum development processes and delivery are maximized to meet the policy guidelines of the government such that that the graduates have the necessary skills and competencies.

Lastly, it is very important for the nursing educators to put in place measures that will make them work closely with communities while upholding clinical partnerships that support educational goals. Working closely with the community is a very critical aspect towards demonstrating goodwill to the people who will be receiving the health care services from the customers (Salminen et al., 2010). As such, it is very imperative for nurse educators to promote such partnerships. The goal is to ensure that the students have the right skills and knowledge that will make them form such relationships in the future.

Leadership

Nurse educators act as leaders who are responsible for ensuring that students not only achieve their training goals, but also are also at the forefront in advocating and guiding many projects, partnerships, and other activities that are necessary for an all-round training program (Forbes & Hickey, 2009). Through the leadership competency, a nurse educator contributes to the development of a strategic direction while at the same time advocating for a shared vision to ensure that learners can achieve the best outcomes in their learning activities.

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In this competency, the nurse educator plays a crucial role in guiding and establishing good working relations with stakeholders who agree to have a shared vision and premeditated direction that promotes good learning outcomes and consequently excellent health care results (Ozturk, Muslu & Dicle, 2008). In a learning environment, the main goal of learning is to promote active engagement and learning, which ensures that the learning activities that have been put in place are able to guide and lead to expected learning outcomes at all levels (Barry et al., 2012). When a shared vision and strategic direction are in place, the nurse educator can ensure that all activities that go towards the curriculum are geared towards the specific direction to help the students to achieve the agree vision.

Secondly, the leadership competency ensures that the nurse educator is aware that he or she has a major mandate in empowering and encouraging the participation of all stakeholders in delivering the best outcomes for the learning objectives (Oermann & Gaberson, 2013). In this case, nurse educators use various skills that guide the establishment of teamwork, motivation, decision-making, conflict resolution, and problem-solving tactics (Barry et al., 2012). These activities are very important in ensuring a smooth implementation of learning objectives and activities to guarantee the best outcomes that are in line with the requirements of the complex healthcare environment that awaits many graduates (American Psychological Association, 2011). The application of leadership strategies in this area is an important recognition of the multi-sectoral nature of nursing education, which involves many stakeholders who play a vital role in one way or another to ensure the observance of quality training standards, which in turn translate into quality care that is expected to be provided to patients (Moyer & Wittman-Prince, 2007). Consequently, in recognition of this role, nurse educators have a critical role in ensuring that all stakeholders are working in harmony to promote the goals of the learning programs.

The leadership competency also plays an important role in promoting networking and motivating stakeholders in leading a change that is necessary in improving health while at the same time reducing any disparities (Barry et al., 2012). In this case, it is worth noting that nursing officials play a central role in providing non-discriminatory health care, which should be availed to all people with the same approaches that are guided by the healthcare sectors’ quality guidelines. Therefore, it is important for the nurse educator as a leader to promote diversity in learning, which can be achieved through partnerships and/or motivating stakeholders to lead the change processes that ensure that healthcare is fair and justified to all people (American Psychological Association, 2011). The nursing curriculum must also be a very crucial tool that guides nurse educators to apply teaching and learning approaches that ensure that students are ready to work not only in diverse environments but also in diverse populations while at the same time ensuring that the learners can provide services without discrimination to all people who seek the healthcare services.

The leadership competency allows nurse educators to incorporate new knowledge to improve the practice. This move is very critical in ensuring that graduates are well prepared to respond to the emerging challenges that arise during their nursing exercise (Oermann & Gaberson, 2013). The healthcare sector is ever changing based on the emerging technologies, diseases, and healthcare demands (Valizadeh et al., 2008). In this case, it is important for the nurse educators to be at the forefront in recognizing these changes and dynamics and consequently putting in place the right measures that will ensure that learners are getting the relevant knowledge and skills that can make them responsive to the emerging needs in the healthcare sector.

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Lastly, the leadership competency allows nurse educators to have the necessary skills for mobilizing and managing resources that are necessary for students to achieve the obligatory skills in preparing them for their nursing careers (Ozturk et al., 2008). Such mobilization requires the ability of the nurse educators to interact and engage the stakeholders such as the government, relevant authorities, and the community to contribute important resources that are needed to provide adequate and quality nursing training (Salminen et al., 2010). In addition, the nurse educators are in charge of managing the scarce resources at their disposal to ensure that they not only last, but also serve the students’ learning needs for long and in a comprehensive manner.

How the Competencies Challenge Nurse Educators

The nursing profession plays an important role in the provision of health care at all levels. Hence, the above competencies are very important in ensuring that nurse educators are best placed to model the appropriate behaviors of professional nurses. They also guide the educators to implement and apply best practices of nursing education to ensure that the graduates have the necessary skills to advance and promote the preeminent nursing and healthcare services (Fetter, 2009). As such, the above competencies are very critical in ensuring that nursing educators are challenged to promote and support the applicable behaviors that are in harmony with best practices of nursing.

Firstly, the competency on mediation through partnerships is very critical for nursing educators since it probes them to apply the best practices and approaches that make their students understand the critical role that partnerships with stakeholders play in guaranteeing quality health care outcomes for the community and nursing training results for the students (Oermann & Gaberson, 2013). This competency allows nurse educators to guide their students towards understanding the role of partnerships, which consequently ensures that they can participate and promote enterprises in their practice (Ozturk et al., 2008). Through partnerships with the appropriate stakeholders, nurse educators can identify and incorporate various teaching tenets that reflect the wide and complex demands of the community, hence ensuring that the students have qualifications that the society and key stakeholders deem fit and appropriate for handling health care demands in the society (Salminen et al., 2010). The mediation through partnerships also allows nurse educators to promote the recognition by students that their practice does not happen in a vacuum and that they have to receive the goodwill and recognition by the society for their practice to be justified and validated. Without such recognition, nursing training and practice will be in vain.

The second competency on leadership is very critical in ensuring that the nurse educator can promote the appropriate behaviors of professional nurses while at the same time implementing the best practices of nursing education (Forbes & Hickey, 2009). Leadership strategies that are required in a nursing education setting allow the educators to guide learners towards the best learning outcomes that prepare them for nursing practice appropriately. In this case, the nurse educator as a leader has major roles, firstly, in ensuring that learners are receiving the best and appropriate training, and secondly in ensuring that the curriculum is up to date such that it reflects the current and emerging nursing needs in the healthcare sector. The other important role of leadership lies in its ability to create important relationships and partnerships that promote cooperation between stakeholders to pave a way for the best training for learners. The nurse educator as a leader is also at the forefront in ensuring that the curriculum and learning approaches meet the requirements and specifications of various regulatory frameworks that have been put forward by the government and various statutory bodies that are in charge of healthcare and other related services in the sector (Ploeg et al., 2010). By adhering to these requirements, nursing learners can receive the appropriate and relevant knowledge and skills that are acceptable to the various authorities in the given jurisdiction. Lastly, resource mobilization is a very critical leadership role. Hence, nurse educators have a major role in mobilizing and managing such resources to support adequate and quality training (Keating, 2014). The nurse educators work closely with various stakeholders who can fund various programs, which are all geared towards advancing learning among students.

Planning

The planning competency is another important component that nurse educators should possess. Planning is critical in ensuring that nurse educators develop measurable health promotion goals and objectives that conform to the assessment of needs and assets in collaboration with stakeholders (Barry, Battel-Kirk & Dempsey, 2012). For instance, through planning, nurse educators can mobilize, support, and engage stakeholders in ensuring the proper planning of learning activities and resources. In this competency, the nurse educator understands that planning nursing education training programs requires the active engagement of stakeholders who are in a position to provide support and resources to ensure the implementation of various learning activities for nursing students.

In addition, planning competency allows nurse educators to consider various models and systematic approaches that support training that boosts the health promotion action (Forbes & Hickey, 2009). The nursing profession is at the center of healthcare delivery. Hence, it is very important to ensure that the models and approaches are used in guiding curriculum development and implementation. In this case, the nurse educators require the planning competency to make sure that the process of coming up with the competencies considers stakeholder input and the current trends in the field of nursing.

Planning allows nurse educators to recognize that the implementation of various training programs and activities require resources, which are not only rare but also difficult to access (Caldwell et al., 2010). With such an approach, the nursing educators develop the appropriate action plans that consider the available resources and consequently match them with the identified needs. The nurse educator has to ascertain that all the learning activities are adequately handled and covered with the available resources for the best outcomes of learning for nursing students and learners.

Nursing education requires nurse educators to put in place important measures that guarantee the achievement of various learning goals and objectives. In this case, the nurse educator plays a very important role in terms of confirming that the learning activities are within specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. In the planning process, various considerations go towards the determination of realistic and specific objectives and goals (American Psychological Association, 2011). Such considerations include, but not limited to, rules and regulations that are put forward by various statutory organizations and relevant stakeholders. Further, the setting of such goals requires a consideration of the curriculum guidelines that exist for the nursing training programs. Lastly, it is important to consider the available resources to determine if they are adequate. It is upon the nursed educators to plan how they are going to acquire the remaining resources for covering the learning requirements of all learners. Lastly, the planning competency allows the nursing educator to identify and determine the appropriate approaches that will guide the achievement of the set goals and learning objectives (Barry et al., 2012). Such approaches include planning on how to address important partnerships that support the achievement of the goals and objectives through various partners’ activities (Cangelosi et al., 2009). For instance, some partners are important in supporting curriculum guidelines.

Conclusion

It is evident that nurse educators play very critical roles in supporting and promoting effective and relevant learning activities for nursing learners. To guarantee uniformity of training and learning outcomes, nurse educators must have important competencies that guide their practice. Without such competencies, it becomes difficult to ensure that all nurses from various settings have the same qualifications and capabilities that are necessary for supporting the appropriate and high-quality health care in real practice. The competencies allow nursing educators to seek and support important partnerships, guide and lead curriculum development and implementation, and/or support important goals and objectives in collaboration with important stakeholders in the sector. Lastly, such competencies allow nurse educators to manage the available resources in achieving the learning objectives that are in line with various statutory requirements that guide the nursing education programs.

Reference List

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