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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.