PULSE: Why I Love My Job: Barbara B. Phillips, RN, MSN, CNE

By Laura Raines, Pulse editor

Job: Program chair of the associate degree program in nursing at Athens Technical College

What I do: “I’m responsible for all administrative duties of the department — including accreditation, budget and teaching assignments — for nine full-time and five adjunct faculty members. I also counsel and advise students and, when I have time, I still do classroom instruction.”

What got me interested in this: “I graduated from the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing diploma program in 1974. Education was always my personal quest. I worked and went to school, finally earning my master’s degree in 1994.

“I found my first part-time teaching position in Pulse. I taught at Athens Tech, and worked in the ER at St. Mary’s Hospital until five years ago, when I became a full-time nurse educator.

“I love clinical nursing, but education is an integral part of the profession. As an ER nurse, I was always involved in patient teaching.”

 Barbara B. Phillips

Barbara B. Phillips is chair of the associate degree program in nursing at Athens Technical College. Photo Special for the AJC.

Best part of the job: “I love watching the growth of our students. Teaching is a completely different arena than clinical practice. So much of what we do as nurses is intuitive. Breaking it down to be able to teach it is a challenge, but I love it.”

Most challenging part of the job: “Dealing with all the changes in nursing and education. We can’t rely on teaching as we were taught. We have a whole generation of learners who are technologically savvy and want interactive — not passive — learning.

“We have to keep bringing ourselves up to speed and constantly [keep] trying new instructional methods. Part of my job is to get faculty to take risks, to try something new and see if it works. We just got a Web-enhanced program, so instead of handing out a syllabus or article, we upload everything.”

What people don’t know about my job: “People don’t realize that nurses are independent practioners. They don’t just take orders from doctors. Students have to learn how to process a massive amount of clinical, psychological, social and technological knowledge in order to prioritize patient care and make decisions.

“When we give a test question, there may be four correct answers, because we have to teach them to think like a nurse.”

What keeps me going: “I love knowing that we work to maintain high standards, and that… ensures that nursing will be left to a group of capable professionals. Watching students grow and hearing about the achievements of former students is the really fun piece of teaching.”

Preparation needed: “You need a master’s degree to teach at the baccalaureate level and a doctoral degree to teach master’s degree students. Because of the faculty shortage, there are more master’s degree programs aimed at nursing education now.”

Salary range: “It ranges from $50,000 to $80,000 a year, depending on school and title.”

— By Laura Raines, Pulse editor. Got an interesting job that you love? E-mail your story to pulseeditor@ajc.com.

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