Reflections of Nurse Educator
Submitted by Chinazo Echezona-Johnson, Ed.D, LL.B, MSN, RNC-MNN
Assistant Director of Maternal-Child Educator,
Health and Hospital Corporation, Metropolitan Hospital Center
Teaching is an art. Some people are born teachers while others acquire the skill. To be a great teacher, one has to have a sense of humor and be very flexible. Teachers will never teach to gain monetary reward. However, they will teach to achieve the best reward - satisfaction that they have an impact on the education of the leaders of the world, the training of CEOs, and the success of new breed of professionals. Teaching is a noble profession.
In my case, I am just a health-care provider. As a teacher, I have saved the lives of thousands of people - maybe millions of people! I do this through my students. I am a nurse educator. My passion is to teach nursing. I don't teach for the obvious reasons. I teach to save lives. I teach because I have a passion for educating conscientious health-care professionals.
I have many examples and stories, but I will tell you about one.
In one teaching hospital in New York, a woman was admitted from the emergency room for uncontrollable pneumonia. Many medications were prescribed for this woman. On her arrival at the unit, a young new nurse refused to start her medications. The young patient was drowsy from the sedatives that she was given in the emergency room. In addition, she was not wearing an identification band. The doctors and other nurses were upset with the new nurse. They threatened to report her or to get her fired. The new nurse remained adamant. The first year resident doctor proceeded to start the Penicillin IV for the patient. A few minutes into the infusion, the patient went into respiratory arrest. She died three hours later in the intensive care unit.
Investigation showed a case of mistaken identity. The unfortunate patient came to the ER for nausea and vomiting. She was allergic to Penicillin. Her chart was accidentally switched in the Emergency Room with the chart of another patient with pneumonia. The family sued the first-year resident who started the medication, and sued the hospital for negligence. The case was settled out of the court for a substantial amount of money.
The insubordinate new nurse was my student! I taught her about the importance of patient safety, patient advocacy, defensive practice and importance of assertiveness. This new nurse graduate used her knowledge to defend a vulnerable patient.
An educated nurse is an asset. Nurses are at the bedside of patients around the clock. They continually make life and death decisions for their patients. Doctors diagnose diseases, prescribe medications, and treatments. However, only well-trained nurses manage, supervise and monitor the patients for any adverse reactions from the prescribed regimens. Nurses decide the outcome of hospitalized patients. Nurses can heal the sick. Conversely, incompetent and negligent nurses can also contribute to the detriment of their patients. Patients' lives are endangered every day by health-care professionals that do not adhere to the standards that will safeguard their patients from harm or death.
As a nurse educator, I am rewarded. I may not be rich, famous or glamorous, but I am saving millions of lives every day. I derive my joy and satisfaction when I see or hear about my students. These students are not only competent nurses, but also leaders and educators in the profession. They continue to pass on my teachings about safety, advocacy, professionalism and pride of the profession. One day, I may need one of them to take care of me.