Joyce J Fitzpatrick View About Nursing Education for Improvement

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Joyce J Fitzpatrick Journey From a Nurse to an Educator

Joyce J Fitzpatrick View About Nursing Education for Improvement
Joyce J Fitzpatrick View About Nursing Education for Improvement, The Early Years: Initial Interest In Teaching, Formal And Informal Influences: Education And Mentors, Formal And Informal Influences: Education And Mentors, Continuing Growth For Self And Others.

The Early Years Initial Interest In Teaching

    As an undergraduate student in the School of Nursing at Georgetown University, She  decided to dedicate my future work to improving nursing education. One of the primary reasons was the fact that She admired the faculty who taught in the School of Nursing, for their dedication to what they were doing. They were committed to developing nursing as a profession and encouraged us as undergraduates to pursue graduate study in nursing.

    There was a high energy level among the faculty and a major emphasis on advanced education. At the same time, She felt that there was great potential for growth within the discipline of nursing. She did not believe that She was as intellectually challenged as She should have been as an undergraduate student at a major university. 

    She viewed my colleagues in other disciplines as having more scholarly debates, more intellectual discussions about broad social and political issues, compared to those of us studying in the School of Nursing. She was disappointed that so much of the focus of nursing education was on memorization and recall, and too little was on challenging existing knowledge. 

    She vowed to make a difference in nursing education nationally (for at that time there was little focus on global health or nursing) and made a commitment to obtain the highest level of education possible in nursing. She knew then that She would become a teacher and a leader in academic nursing.

Formal And Informal Influences: Education And Mentors

    Immediately following graduation from Georgetown, She entered a master's degree program in nursing, and pursued a clinical focus in psychiatric mental health nursing with a minor focus on nursing education. 

    She had a significant introduction to educational philosophies during this graduate program, and was introduced to the current issues and debates in nursing education nationally, including the entry level debate; the disciplinary content focus on care, cure, or coordination; and the relationships between generalist and specialist preparation for the discipline. 

    She loved the opportunity for intellectual debate afforded by graduate education in nursing, and longed for more. While I took a 5-year hiatus from my own academic studies in order to practice as a public health and community mental health nurse, She maintained academic ties to the University. 

    She participated as a clinical faculty member supervising students in the graduate program in psychiatric mental health nursing, took some courses as a part-time student, and always “hung around” with nurses from the University. She found colleagues among the nurses who were on the faculty. 

    She knew then that She needed to pursue doctoral education in nursing. Before doing so, She explored the programs around the country. She chose to pursue the PhD in nursing at New York University as She believed that it was the most academically challenging program at the time. 

    It was everything She expected it to be academic discourse, cutting edge science and research, interesting and challenging academic role models, and, importantly for me, intellectually challenging on a personal level. She learned the academic role as scholar and teaching through observing others and having the opportunity to practice as a junior faculty member.


    She have had many mentors throughout my academic career. One of my first mentors continues as a mentor today. Grayce Sills was on the faculty at Ohio State University School of Nursing when She was a master's prepared community mental health nurse practicing in Columbus Ohio. She took me under her wing and provided guidance to me in both my academic and professional nursing development. 

    Grayce took me to my first professional association meeting and She have been a professional association “junkie” ever since. She introduced me to the politics of professional nursing, as she had been guided by Hildegard Peplau, one of the masters of professional organization politics. 

    When it came time to choose a doctoral program in nursing, it was Grayce who steered me to NYU and Martha Rogers, suggesting that I would resonate with the advanced and radical thought emanating from NYU. She was never sorry that She followed that advice. My second set of mentors were found at NYU; both Martha Rogers and Florence Downs guided me in different ways and different directions. 

    Martha stretched my conceptual and professional thinking, pushing the boundaries of the discipline intellectually and practically. She was always amazed at the integrity that she displayed in all that she did. Florence served as my researcher and introduced me to the rigors of research so important in advise scientific nursing both then and now. 

    My third set of professional mentors were introduced to me in my first academic position following my doctoral degree. She assumed a position of leadership in theory and research in academic nursing and sought out the mentorship of Harriet Werley , who at that time, in my mind, was the founder of nursing research in the US As a new faculty member She introduced myself to Harriet and told her that She wanted to know everything that she knew about nursing research. 

    She took me under her wing as a coeditor in the design and launch of the Annual Review of Nursing Research series (now in its 22nd volume), with the understanding that She would assume leadership for the series within a 5-year period. Unlike my other mentors, Harriet's training had been in the discipline of psychology, which had a rich history of academic development in research, teaching, and clinical practice. This mentorship provided grounding for me in the inclusion of all of these components.

Enhanced Development Of My Teaching And Leadership Skills

    Timing is everything, and the timing of my introduction to academic nursing at the doctoral level was critical to my own development as a teacher. Immediately after completing my PhD in nursing I accepted a faculty position in a school of nursing that had just developed a doctoral program in nursing. She was asked to teach the first course, the introduction to nursing theory and research. In the first course, She had 5 doctoral students and 5 faculty members as students. 

    One of the faculty members was a full professor in the school of nursing, and She learned very early that I had expertise that was different and important to the discipline of nursing. She learned to believe in my own expertise. Because She was the only faculty member with a doctoral degree in nursing, She learned quickly to clarify the need for development of graduate education (particularly doctoral education) within the discipline to develop our science, rather than to borrow all of our knowledge from other disciplines . 

    My teaching was refined because it was challenged; this undoubtedly influenced my evolution as a teacher. I have always felt a high level of comfort as a teacher. In fact, She am more comfortable each year. The more experience She have as a teacher, the better She am as a teacher. This degree of comfort is not always translated into formal presentations. She still experience a degree of discomfort whenever doing a formal presentation. I'm not sure why this is the case.

Challenges And Rewards

    One of my challenges as a teacher is no doubt the challenge of many of my colleagues. That is the difficulty inherent in balancing all that we have to do as leaders in academic nursing: teaching, writing, researching, and advising students at all levels. Every day requires a juggling of priorities, in which the decision that is made often is based on the greatest good for the greatest number of persons. 

    Yet, on a day-to-day level, sometimes these decisions are not as clear-cut as they appear. Another challenge is the realization that there is no “down time” as an academic leader. years later will quote your communication to them. She learned early in my academic career that there is no such thing as casual conversation. One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is to see the success of one's students. 

    She have had hundreds of successful students over the course of my many years of teaching. Many of these students are in key positions of leadership in nursing throughout the world. She chose nursing education as an area of focus because She believed that the ripple effect was so important. 

    She can influence the health of so many more people by influencing the high level education of many nurses. Teaching future teachers of nurses and preparing future leaders in nursing is very rewarding to me. One of my concerns over my years as a teacher has been the parochial views within the ranks of nurses themselves. 

    We have the potential to determine our own destiny, but often do not exercise the potential. The lack of intellectual discourse, challenges to the system, and acceptance of the status quo are frustrating to me. She wish nurse faculty members were more likely to be risk takers, asking questions that are visionary and future oriented rather than continuing the present state of learning .

Continuing Growth For Self And Others

    She try to learn something new every day, by reading, by listening to experts from outside and inside of nursing and health care. She have always believed that the more exposure to information the better. She was  an avid consumer of all that is available on the Internet. She try to learn from information that is available in a range of sources. 

    The amount of health care information available to all of us is overwhelming; it is difficult to discern what information is most critical. But the more you know the easier it is to discern the value of information. She also try to network with as many people as possible, on the local, national, and global level. She keep a wide range of contacts, particularly within nursing circles. 

    She spend a lot of time communicating with other nurses and other health care professionals who have expertise that She do not have. My advice to new teachers is to continue to learn by trying new methods and techniques of teaching, and do not be afraid to challenge the system. Make certain that you are an avid learner and that you surround yourself with those who can stretch your own development.

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