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Restoring Your Passion to See Transformation Realized! (3rd in a series)

By January 19, 2014February 2nd, 20193 Comments

I believe that transformation can be realized in nursing education, and I know I am not alone! Patricia Benner and the co-authors of Educating Nurses: A Call for RADICAL TRANSFORMATION (emphasis mine!) have shown us the way. Are you willing to join me and follow their lead?

I have created this blog to be one tool to blaze a new trail and facilitate this needed change. If you recognize that it is no longer time for business as usual, then join me, and invite others to use this blog to DIALOGUE! 

Before I begin to outline the transformational paradigms that are needed in nursing education, I want to discuss foundational stones that transformation must be built upon in order for it to last.

In this blog…Eliminating incivility. A foundational paradigm change that MUST take place in order to see our profession truly transformed.

Motivation matters!
What is the primary reason you want to be a nurse or went into nursing education?
TODAY what is the primary reason you continue to persevere in nursing education or as a student? More importantly, has this primary motivator changed over time?

My journey in nursing education is likely similar to many of those who are reading this blog. After 20 years of clinical practice, I realized that I loved to teach new nurses and share what I have learned after being in the trenches for 20+ years. I was considering nurse anesthesia 10 years ago, but a quote from the book Wild at Heart  by Christian author John Eldredge jumped off the page:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and
do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come fully alive.”

This statement literally changed the trajectory of my life because it gave me permission to pursue my PASSION, not what would make the most money! I believe that each of us have God given talents and natural passions that make us come alive when we are pursuing them! Many in the world pursue a paycheck just to make ends meet. As a result you see many “dead men & women” walking and just going through the motions

If you are a nurse educator, you likely pursued this path because it was your PASSION, and taking a paycut was a secondary consideration and a sacrifice you were willing to make.

Incivility in Academia-All Too Common

But because we live in a broken, fallen world, our heart and what makes us come alive will experience attack, sometimes where we least expect it. This is unfortunately true in nursing academia. Leading nurse educator Cynthia Clark who has done the most extensive research on incivility/bullying in nursing education reported in a survey of nursing programs across the country that 68% of nursing programs have moderate-severe levels of incivility but 96% when mild levels of incivility/bullying are included (1).

Incivility=Friendly Fire

For some, academia can feel like the Normandy Beach invasion scene from “Saving Private Ryan.” The intensity of the battle is very real, feeling over whelmed, experiencing “friendly fire” by incivility and bullying in your department and experiencing persistent “fight or flight” levels of stress as you deal with the next crisis can take its toll over time! (See my webpage on “Incivility & Bullying” for background info if needed).

Incivilty=Stealing Your Joy & Passion

For many of you, especially those who are new to academia, you too have likely experienced the pain of incivility personally. The inevitable consequence of incivility has also been described as “joy stealing” (2). For some of you If you are honest, there has likely been some slippage in your level of joy and passion. I too have experienced joy stealing and the the “pit of incivility” as a new nurse educato. But by the grace of God, my passion has been restored and I have slowly climbed out (or I wouldn’t be writing this blog or created my website!) Please see “My Story”  that I hope will encourage you if you too are in a “pit” that seems so deep.

 If  TRANSFORMATION is the equivalent of “self actualization” in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, how can this be attained if needs of safety (feeling safe in your environment), love & belonging (friendship), and esteem (respect of/by others) is NOT happening in your program? All the practical action steps in the world will have little impact if you have become a casualty and have lost your passion and are overwhelmed, stressed, or wounded from your experience in academia.

Incivilty-Barrier to Needed Transformation!

Therefore, before we can implement the transformational paradigm changes from Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation, we must work to TRANSFORM our academic work environment by removing ALL vestiges of incivility and bullying however it manifests; student to faculty, faculty to student or faculty to faculty. This is the FIRST essential step to see your PASSION RESTORED as a nurse educator as well.

Because bullying is endemic in academia, in the next post, I will get PRACTICAL by defining these bullying behaviors, but more importantly how you can respectfully deal and address it if it comes your way so you can not only survive but THRIVE as you pursue your passion in nursing education!

I encourage you to share your story and start a needed conversation by reflecting/responding to the following questions:

What has been your experience in academia as a faculty or student? Have you found it to be “joy stealing”?

How difficult have you found it to maintain your initial passion as a nurse educator or student in academia?

1. Clark, C.M., Olender, L., Kenski, D., & Cardoni, C. (2013). Exploring and addressing faculty-to-faculty incivility: A national perspective and literature review, Journal of Nursing Education, 52(4), 211-218.
2. Heinrich, K. (2007). Joy stealing: 10 mean games faculty play and how to stop the gaming, Nurse Educ. Jan-Feb;32(1):34-8.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Barb says:

    When I entered full time academia, I left a clinical adjunct position and assumed collegial relationships would continue in the same vein. First, it took 8 weeks to get a desk, computer and a phone. I was stunned that no one advocated on my behalf and I was expected to shift from computer to computer and adapt. Adapt to a whole new world without any tools? After running my first exam, I heard, “You probably taught to the test.” as I left the scantron machine. At that point, I knew I was alone and there was no one I could trust to help me learn the new role. I was assigned a mentor/ officemate that told me, “You make me look bad, because you do all these extra things.” I could be caught up in the games or rise above them. If you don’t engage in the games, then you can’t lose. My husband gave me a piece of advice that rang in my head and got me through the trials of the next two years. He told me, “You do what you do best and forget the rest.” In other words, whether the idea failed or succeeded, just keep on moving in the right direction. If you are caught in the “girly games”, decide whether you will let them steal your joy. Remember, just do what you do best and forget the rest. It took 2 years before another person was hired behind me. I decided that I would befriend each new faculty person and let them know they were not alone. It took someone daring to be different to eventually change the culture years later. It was still part of doing what I do best and forgetting the rest that eventually changed the games. Most recently, I heard from a fellow faculty, “We can’t wait for you to get out of the way so we can have your position.” (referring to retire) Joy stealing just doesn’t end, but we can make a decision as to whether we will engage in the games or rise above it. My joy is in doing what I do best for students and it drives my passion for teaching and to be different.

    • keithrn says:

      Knowing that you are NOT alone in experencing the pain of incivility is supportive to those who have been victimized and validates themes that many in academia have experienced including myself. Your example to “be the change’ and rise above your painful circumstances is inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

  • Barb says:

    Time heals a lot and prepares us to share. The start of that was 10 years ago. I thank God for a great husband who taught me to believe in my God given ability. God gives us these experiences to help others and He knows with Him we can handle the adversity. It is freeing to be able to help others through the blog.

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