A Nursing Professional Development Specialist at Cleveland Clinic, Meenakshi Gapa, MSN, RN, focuses primarily on the Surgical Intensive Care, Neurological Intensive Care, and Neurological Step-Down Units. She developed a passion for both critical care and education while in nursing school, which guided her into the field of Nursing Education. She explains her role that allows her to merge both of her passions and develop nurses throughout their practice.
When in nursing school, I worked as a Health Unit Coordinator in the Surgical ICU. This environment solidified my desire to pursue Critical Care upon graduation. During my Maternal-Newborn clinical rotation, an unexpected passion for education developed. I was inspired by an instructor who combined both worlds and was able to deftly impart real-time, practical knowledge. She modeled helping nurses grow and develop their skills and critical thinking, while improving patient care. I pursued my Masters in Nursing Education because I was so engaged by her and her impact. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to support Critical Care and Step-Down Nurses and address those areas on a daily basis.
I see my role as one that develops and empowers nursing through education. With both enterprise and unit-based responsibilities, I support our new nurses during their orientations and throughout practice on their units. We facilitate a variety of enterprise classes, including Critical Care Nurse Residency, and in-depth unit-specific content supporting Neurological and Surgical Nurses. We are constantly creating new content addressing current challenges, and present information in a variety of styles to connect with each nurse in a meaningful way.
Through these experiences, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is to let learning happen organically. The ability to have free and open dialogue creates incredibly rich conversations during which learners share experiences and engage others to contribute. Dedicating time throughout sessions to give learners “the floor” greatly enhances their learning. Not only has this taught me how to better support our nurses and meet them where they are, it improves their comradery with one another and celebrates their experiences. This also cultivates interdisciplinary communication and the ability of nurses to collaborate. We are all always learning. Sharing with each other helps enrich our profession, elevate our practice and strengthen our personal development.