Tell me what this “pill” is…………………………….

Introduction to Clinical Practice is the first nursing clinical that students will encounter in either the Practical or Associate Degree Nursing programs.  The setting for this clinical is the long-term care environment and often where students will encounter clients who may take a numerous amount of medications.  Nursing Pharmacology is taught in the first semester as well—–students will start with pharmacology and then move in to clinical once they have some information under their belts.  As instructors, we strive to bring the “classroom into the clinical”!  Last semester, I had the pleasure of taking over a Pharmacology classroom for a colleague while teaching the clinical associated with the pharmacology class.  LIGHTS BULBS WENT OFF! I knew students were struggling with pharmacology in the clinical setting as well as the classroom setting; how could I remedy this?  Well, let me tell you what I did!

While watching “Maleficent”, I decided to get my scrapbooking material out.  I had BRIGHT colored paper, my circle cutters, AND GLITTER GLUE!  Shiny object syndrome was in full affect for me.  I tend to recall things better with color and shininess (is that a word?), so maybe my students would too!  I began cutting multiple circles of many many different bright colors.  I grabbed my marker and started writing medication names on those circles.  Before I knew it, the glitter glue was on those circles as I traced the medication names with the glitter glue and my table was FULL of “pills”.  Once they dried, I punched holes in the top and put a ring through them.  I now had a “wheel of pills”.  So you are probably wondering, “what in the world are you going to do with those things?”  Well, let me tell you………………………………….

I carried this “wheel of pills” in my scrub pockets at clinical.  Randomly throughout clinical, I would pull out the “Wheel of pills”, approach a student and ask them to “pick a pill”.  I would then proceed to ask them to tell me what the medication was and what they know about that medication.  At first, students were panicked.  HOWEVER, eventually, the students started asking me to pull the “Wheel of pills” out and to ask them questions.  Towards the end of clinical near the end of the semester with a Pharmacology FINAL exam looming over them, students would play games with the “Wheel of Pills”.  It was great to see them accept this strategy so readily as was watching them bring that classroom learning into clinical AND clinical learning into the classroom!  It has been a HUGE success and I will for sure continue with it!

Nursing Skills….. “I learned that such a long time ago that I don’t remember what to do”

How often have you said to your students, “don’t just memorize this, but learn it for life”?  I know that I say it almost every day, but does it really stick?  I can honestly answer that.  Teaching throughout both the Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs from start to finish, the answer to that is NO!!!!!!!  Well, alright, we always have SOME students who do commit their skills to memory and never forget what step comes when; but, we also have those students who memorize the check off list and forget it the minute the check off is complete.  How can we get our students to understand that we really are speaking the truth?  How could I, the instructor, assist my students in reviewing their skills and truly understanding what the steps are?  And more importantly, why is it important for them to remember their skills steps?  Well, let me tell you!

After my students take their State Board exam for nursing(NCLEX), I often follow up with them and ask questions as to how the Boards went.  I ask questions that are very detailed oriented:  what kind of questions did you have, how many were “select all that apply”, how many of each type/area of nursing(pharmacology, Med/Surg, Mental Health, OB, Fundamentals, Math, etc). and so on.  I believe this helps me to develop new activities that will prep my students for the biggest exam of their lives and familiarize themselves with what to expect.  Imagine my surprise this year, when I learned that the NCLEX exam had several of my students put nursing skills in the correct order of performance!  Immediately, I knew exactly what I was going to do to assist my students to be successful in this area!  Basic Nursing Skills is taught in the first semester of both programs and I teach the clinical that is associated with that class: Introduction to Clinical Practice.  This clinical is taught in the long-term care environment.  There are times that this clinical has some “down-time” and I knew this activity would be perfect to complete at this level!  I have taken the Basic Nursing Skills check off lists, cut out each individual step and placed them on flashcards.  During clinical, I will randomly give a student a set of flashcards with the directions to place them in correct chronological order!  What an amazing opportunity to take the classroom learning and apply it to the real-life clinical setting; in the words of a wise Nurse Educator, “This is where the rubber meets the road”!  I cannot wait to try this during the semester. Completing this teaching strategy will allow me to assist my students in being successful.  Repeatedly exposing them to the nursing skills will allow them to commit these important tasks to memory and help them to be prepared for their NCLEX exam!  Stay tuned for the results!

I

Discussion Board “Live”

Yes, I have been that student in an online class. I looked at the syllabus, entered the due dates for the assessments, exams, and discussion board. I placed the majority of my time in the assessments and exams because I saw the value there. I had control of that data. However, the discussion boards were another matter completely. I didn’t necessarily see the value of them. I would read the prompts, feel uninspired, complete my initial entry, and post my two replies. I rarely went above and beyond that. Honestly, though, that isn’t me. In classes, I enjoy contributing to discussion. I enjoy reading the materials before class and engaging with my peers, getting to the deeper level of the text. Yes, I am one of those students in a face-to-face class. I have noticed this trend while teaching online, too. I have had some students be very interactive in f2f setting, and then, it seems like they hibernate in my online classes. What is happening? Why do students, like myself, who love to engage with peers lose that contact in an online format? My goal has been to identify the cause of this phenomenon and come up with a solution. Granted, I haven’t arrived at the perfect answer and some students still do not participate actively; however, over the last few semesters of online teaching, I am seeing more developed, reflective entries along with more thoughtful replies.

The first part I decided to tackle was helping students see the value of online discussions. When it comes down to talking, most people feel comfortable writing/talking about what they know, AND what do they know better than themselves? Nothing. My thought, then, was to get students to start talking about themselves in the first entry when they introduce themselves to the class. However, they have to introduce themselves in a deeper manner than what the census bureau collects every ten year. Yes, they still include that data; however, they also now need to include information about their most and least successful learning experience, and then they have to reflect on the differences between these experiences (very OnCourse-ish, I know (and love it)). WOW!!! The success of this first entry reflect not one, not two, not three, but FOUR well developed paragraph for an INITIAL journal entry. Then, the replies are just as engaged as the initial posts. Comments regarding I love/hate math just like you, or I love/hate English just like you, and then it ranges to the discussion about motivation, responsibility, value, and time management. These students seem to be engaging and taking an interest in each other. They begin to see the value the discussion. It is not uninspiring.

The interest and discussion is encouraging. However, it is a really tough act to follow. After all, I cannot have them just talk about themselves all semester; I have to get them to engage with the content of the course just like I do in a Face-to-Face format. When I am in front of the classroom, I play videos, hand out news articles, and assign students to specific topics. It gets them interactive and applies the textual concepts to their lives. The answer, then, is that I have to apply the same teaching method to the discussion boards. I need to make it “live.” Over the last few semesters, I have been integrating commercials, videos, and news articles into the discussion board prompts. I, then, include what textual concepts they should be covering in their initial post. They don’t have to cover/discuss each one, but it should be developed into 3-4 well-developed paragraphs (7-12 sentences). Then, they have to reply to someone who presents a new understanding to topic. The result??? AMAZING! They are engaged and talking. There are more than the two expected replies. It is inspiring.

What is the benefit of this engagement? Value and Inspiration for both the students and myself. After reading the discussions (Initial posts are due Fridays and replies are due Mondays), I am encouraged that online education is evolving, and I look forward to the future of how we can engage our students even more through creativity. I look at the prompts that have little interaction and know that I need to discard and advance them to today’s standards. In the end, whose fault is it that students don’t engage? Is it the students fault for not putting forth enough effort, or is it my fault for not providing a good writing prompt? I guess, I have to look at when I become engaged in a Discussion Board as a student. If it is an uninspiring writing prompt, my instructor is going to get an uninspiring entry. If it is an inspiring writing prompt, I am going to offer a thoughtful, interactive entry.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

PRACTICE MAN! PRACTICE!

The same thing can be said about learning something new. In order to get good at most things it takes a certain amount of practice. That’s why I provide students with comprehensive constructive feedback on their assignments, and an opportunity to improve their performance prior to periodic quizzes or exams.

Map Locating Carnegie Hall

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