I was not into teaching until my alma mater hired me as a part-time clinical instructor last semester to handle third-year nursing students. I had my doubts at first, as to whether I will be an effective teacher or not, since I know that teaching in a hospital setting is a lot different from teaching inside a classroom. It is very different from having your students seated on rows, than having students who are walking around the hospital, performing health-risk, if not life-threatening procedures. And that my professional nursing license is at stake every time students take care of real-life patients.
Following up nursing students inside the hospital was not really new to me. I handled foreign nursing students when I was in the Middle East. Patients there were quite demanding, and meticulous, and so I learned how to make sure that the students were knowledgeable of the procedures they were performing even before going to the bedside, otherwise I end up being reprimanded by the patients themselves.
I had three groups last semester, most of them were fresh from high school (meaning, not second-coursers). Some were still having doubts as to whether they should continue with their nursing course or not. Some were just influenced to take their course by the people who are financing their studies. Some were just plain pasaway.
After finishing the first semester, I learned a lot of things about clinical teaching. First, I realized that even if my job as a teacher should focus on making sure the students gain enough knowledge during their clinical exposure, it is still the patient lying on the bed who should be my utmost concern. Before making any procedures to the patient, I should make sure that he is comfortable and that he is confident with his caregivers, even if they are just students.
I also learned that student nurses can be taught self confidence by actually making them perform procedures by themselves (with supervision, of course). I sometimes get doubts as to whether I should allow the student to perform the activity or not. But by initially assessing the student’s knowledge on the procedure, I get enough trust on the student that he will finish the task successfully. And by making him actually complete the job, he builds the confidence necessary to gain the patient’s trust.
Lastly, I learned the value of sharing knowledge to the people who are thirsty of it. It is indeed a privilege and honor to be part in molding young minds who will become professionals someday. When my students thanked me after their clinical rotation ended, I felt that they gained a lot of knowledge and skills, and that I made my own contribution in uplifting the standards of the nursing profession.
I should say that I enjoyed my stint as a clinical instructor. The experience was worth it.