The pathway to becoming an educator
The role of an educator is often associated with formal roles, but education can be facilitated by anyone who has an interest in supporting others to develop skills and knowledge.
For those considering becoming a clinical educator, it is important to understand the multitude of modes and environments in which education can be facilitated.
According to Louise Veitch, a Clinical Nurse Educator (Emergency Department, Queanbeyan District Hospital) and Sessional Academic (Australian Catholic University), impromptu bedside education is equally as important as planned in-services and credentialled courses.
“Each different educational mode, model and environment has a role to play in developing staff and catering to the variety of learner profiles that you will encounter,” she said. “There is no limit to where or how education can be facilitated and often creativity produces outstanding outcomes, particularly with simulation and the recent development of education via virtual reality.”
According to Ms Veitch a good educator “has sound knowledge and is trustworthy, approachable, respectful and has exceptional interpersonal skills, with an ability to identify educational shortfalls”.
“When an educator has the ability to create a safe learning environment that is enjoyable and non-threatening to participate in, optimal learning outcomes will be achieved,” she said.
In addition, she said a great educator also requires “excellent communication skills to enable timely, objective and honest feedback to the learner”.
So where to start? When it comes to becoming an educator, Ms Veitch offers the following tips:
- Start your pathway to education with small achievable steps through role modelling and leadership. By setting a high standard within your workplace, you are taking the first step toward educating others.
- Your knowledge will form the basis of the education that you deliver, therefore always strive for excellence in practice.
- Find a mentor. Establish a formal mentor relationship with a person who you communicate well with and who can provide sound advice and guidance.
- Approach your current educator/s and express your interest in delivering education and ask for help if you need it.
- Progressively practise delivering education in various environments, formats and to different sized groups. The delivery of education can be more effective if you provide the learner with an experience or by providing context, rather than just delivering content; meaning that multi modal education optimises the uptake of skills and knowledge for the learner.
Importantly, Ms Veitch said alongside moving outside of your comfort zone and taking risks to grow and develop as an educator, is “believing in yourself“.
“Imposter syndrome and self-doubt are barriers for almost everyone at some stage along the way. Set small, achievable goals to help build your educator skillset and acknowledge that development will take time. Always have a plan because an idea without a plan is only a dream!”
Ms Veitch, who spoke at the 2021 ANZCEN Emergency Nursing Education Symposium, also suggests completing additional education, such as Train the Trainer Courses or completing a formal Post Graduate Qualification in Clinical Education, but importantly she recommended to “always be teachable”.
“There is not a soul on this earth who is an expert in everything. New concepts, techniques and research are always being developed and you should never fall into the trap of feeling as though your learning journey has come to an end.”
Educating educators: Introduction to Clinical Education Course
In terms of education pathways, ANZCEN launched the Introduction to Clinical Education Course during the Symposium.
Developed to help educate educators the course is a great pathway for proficient clinicians who are interested in education to kickstart their teaching career. A 2-day course, it provides foundational knowledge and practical skills in clinical education, including but not limited to:
- Facilitating learning and memory
- Teaching clinical reasoning
- Teaching practical skills
- Conducting assessments
- Ensuring effective communication
- Providing feedback
The course is highly interactive and practical, giving participants the chance to test out their skills and receive feedback from expert educators. Participants will walk away with proven, evidence-based teaching techniques that they can confidently use in their practice – whether that be as a mentor, facilitator, instructor, or in a clinical educator role.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.