Kent State University College of Nursing faculty member Tina Saunders, MSN, RN, CNE, GCNS-BC, nurse educator master’s concentration coordinator, and senior lecturer, has been teaching for 16 years. She enjoys making a connection with each of the students in the nurse educator concentration, hearing stories about their careers up to this point, and learning why each was drawn to pursue their MSN with a focus on the nurse educator role. Saunders was excited to accept a position at Kent State University because she knew the College of Nursing provides excellent education and produces top-notch undergraduate and graduate prepared nurses. She joins us this afternoon to talk about the nurse educator master’s concentration and to share some of her personal experiences working in the nursing field.
Q: Tina, welcome! Thank you for being here with us today! Let’s jump right into our conversation. What inspired you to become a faculty member?
A: I’m excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me to share my story! When I was deciding on a career path, education was my second choice, so I always had a desire to go this route. I had several opportunities to precept new nurses and student nurses over the years and found I really loved to teach. After I finished my MSN, I again had the opportunity to teach clinicals part-time for another university which further validated my love for nursing education. It’s exhilarating to see those “a-ha” moments when students make connections and grow in their understanding of the role of the nurse.
Q: Which courses do you teach?
A: I teach all concentration-specific courses in the nurse educator (NUED) concentration, in addition to all practicum courses and the final seminar course in the adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist concentration, along with advanced assessment. NUED courses allow students to build a foundation of knowledge and expertise in the role of the nurse educator as well as an advanced level of expertise in their area of clinical specialty. Students have opportunities to apply these in our two practicum courses.
Q: What are the benefits of your program?
A: A nurse educator needs to have an advanced level of knowledge and expertise in their clinical specialty area of nursing practice, as well as in the role of educating adult learners who are, for example, nursing students and/or practicing nurses. It requires a unique set of knowledge and skills that assists an individual as they learn and apply evidence-based teaching and learning strategies to provide quality education to those they are teaching.
Q: How can students be successful in this program?
A: As a student learning through an online program, it’s important to understand that online learning doesn’t equate to easier learning. This program will challenge you to be the best at what you have sought out to do in the next chapter of your nursing career. Stay organized and use good time management skills as you work through each semester. Know that you will be supported. I encourage you to reach out to your instructors, concentration coordinator, or advisor when needed. They will be your lifeline and truly care about your success in the program.
Q: What is one thing you hope your students always remember from your classes?
A: I hope they take-away essential information about how to provide high-quality, evidence-based education to nurses. I hope they see the modeling by their faculty of being present and maintaining communication and support as something that is valuable in their roles as educators, as well.
Q: What types of career choices will your students have after they have completed your program?
A: Our graduates go on to become nurse educators in both academic and professional development settings. Several have found full-time employment here in Ohio at universities and within hospital settings (e.g., Kent State University [we have grads at Kent and all regional campuses], Cleveland State, Ursuline College, Notre Dame, Akron Children’s, Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals) and around the United States (e.g., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas).
Q: What advice do you have for brand new nurse educator graduates entering the workforce?
A: It may take some time to settle into your new role. Seek out individuals to mentor you through the process and know that your instructors in the nurse educator concentration are available as a resource. You can always come back to us with questions and for advice. We will continue to support you even after you have graduated.
Q: Thank you, Tina. You have provided such helpful information this afternoon. Before we run out of time, would you share a little about your nursing journey?
A: I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with you and share my passion for the nurse educator concentration. As for my personal nursing journey, my interest in nursing began at a young age. Several of my family members were nurses and I always had a desire to care for others. That’s how I knew nursing was the best career path for me. I chose to go into Geriatrics and nursing education, working in both long-term and acute care settings. A caring and compassionate nature are so integral to the role of the nurse. The diversity of specialty areas and opportunities that nurses can be involved in is exciting to me. There are so many layers that a nurse can explore within the profession. On the flip side, I have had to learn how to find a healthy balance between work and my outside life. I do this by spending as much time as I can with my family and traveling.