Why I Love Being Nurse Faculty

Feb 15, 2012, 1:00 PM, Posted by Connie Kartoz

The following post originally appeared on the blog of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, NJNI is hosting a blog carnival featuring posts from nurse faculty, deans and New Jersey Nursing Scholars on why they love being nurse faculty. This post is by Connie Kartoz, MS, RN, FNP-BC, a New Jersey Nursing Scholar.

I bet it’s the same for you, the memories of ‘the firsts.’ The first time you inserted a catheter, the first injection, the first prescription you ever signed your name to, the first time you told a patient they had cancer, the first time you discussed hospice with a patient, the first baby you ‘caught,’ the first patient you eased through a final breath. Fear holds court in varying degrees each time I walk through a first. A voice is usually in my head, a nursing professor, guiding me with the right steps, encouraging me to be confident, yet careful and keeping the fear from impeding the task.

There have been several voices and bits of knowledge I recall throughout my career, pearls of wisdom being slowly strung into my own strand and brand of expertise. They made their mark with the humor of the tap dancing arrhythmias, the clever mnemonics for the cranial nerves, or most importantly, their demonstration of human caring toward my fellow students and me. They taught us to continue to grow and always learn, encouraging a devotion to evidenced based practice.

As I climbed those infamous rungs of the novice to expert ladder, I learned to appreciate those voices and the expert they were creating. I realized that, in addition to the joy of providing high quality-care for patients, I might also be able to become a voice for future generations of nurses. I responded to an ad for an adjunct faculty, and found another aspect to nursing I love, teaching.

While I had always enjoyed patient education, the classroom was even more fun. Without the constraints of a 15 minute office visit, I had the time to incorporate creative techniques to liven the classroom and improve lectures. Instruction at the graduate level meant a collegial atmosphere and I found myself learning from both the reading necessary to cover content and the student’s own experiences. In addition to experiencing the joy of hearing about my nurse practitioner students’ excitement with their newfound skills, my own practice was strengthened. Because I was reading voluminously in order to present to the class, I had the latest information for patients as well. Both the students and the patients shared their appreciation for my hard work, and I was doubly rewarded.

From then I was hooked. The two roles - practice and teaching—complement each other beautifully. I am a better practitioner when I teach, and a better teacher when I practice. The variety in my professional life also keeps each role from getting tiresome. The flexibility in scheduling, the autonomy to design classroom experiences that best aid learning and a constant intellectually stimulating environment are only a few added benefits of the faculty role.

As I pursue a PhD in nursing in order to strengthen my skill set for the faculty role, I can only hope that I too will become a small voice in my students heads as they write that first prescription, feel that first breast mass or deliver a life-changing diagnosis. With that tiny voice in the background keeping the fear and anxiety at bay, each of us can allow our caring nature to practice the art and science of nursing at its best.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.