A Nursing Professional Development Specialist at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, Kari Polena, MSN, RN, CPAN, discusses the role of a nurse educator in a hospital setting. She also offers examples of how she remains current in the profession so she can excel at her job.
I became a nurse educator because I wanted to make a positive impact on the nursing profession and perform a job that was enjoyable, challenging, and meaningful to me. What I love most about being a nurse educator is my ability to develop resources and tools that influence the growth and development of nurses at UH. I’ve always had a strong desire to learn and a passion to use what I’ve learned to educate others in pursuit of a rewarding nursing career. I place a high value on the importance of gaining a solid education and training to prepare nurses for the demands of our complex healthcare system.
Healthcare is always advancing, and nurses must adapt to patient needs and acuity levels to keep up with these changes. A key role of the nurse educator is to be committed to lifelong learning by staying up-to-date on the latest information. In doing so, nurse educators ensure they are educating the nursing community with correct and relevant information to keep our patients safe and well cared for. I do this by maintaining various nursing certifications, attending continuing education courses, and being a member of professional organizations that provide the latest evidence-based research.
The best way to learn I have found, is to always keep track of the bigger picture, to problem solve, and to not be afraid to seek guidance if unsure of what to do. Some of the best teachers I’ve encountered are those who have the confidence and desire to make positive changes in other’s lives.This is something I strive for each day. I’ve also found that acquiring valuable leadership skills and confidence in my abilities early in my nursing career has helped prepare me for my current role. I am so grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I’ve had as a bedside nurse, which has led me to where I am today.