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What Every Nurse and Nurse Educator Has in Common with Spiderman

By September 28, 2017June 8th, 2023No Comments

Though a nurse educator is removed from the life of a superhero such as Spiderman, they do have something in common.

When Peter Parker realized he had an extraordinary power that was given to him to make a difference in the world as a superhero, he realized that he had to decide how he was going to use that power.

In the same way, every nurse educator also has power, the power to influence the next generation of professional nurses.

Therefore the iconic quote from the first Spiderman movie in 2002 as Peter’s uncle shared the following that also has relevance to each nurse educator (click YouTube link for the actual scene!)

“With great power, comes great responsibility…”

You Have Great Power as an Educator

Use this pyramid to illustrate the real power that you possess. As a nurse educator, you are at the top of the pyramid. As you recognize the power, you possess and embrace the responsibility to integrate educational best practice into your teaching you then influence the green row of the pyramid which is your nursing department.

As you implement the paradigm shifts from the Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation by contextualizing your content to clinical practice and emphasize clinical reasoning your influence is going to spread in your program.

Who does academia influence?

The nursing students that you teach! They represent the yellow base of the pyramid.

As your students begin to develop the skill of clinical reasoning and think more like a nurse and use the knowledge they were taught they will graduate and be a member of the nursing profession; and be better prepared for practice.

As a new generation of Nursing students are taught to care and act like a nurse by refusing to engage in uncivil and bullying behaviors, they know what a true professional looks like, and will be the needed change for the next generation, and you had a part in this!


Do Your Students Realize they also Have the Power?

In last weeks blog, I discussed the importance of exhortation and how important it is to strongly encourage your students with what is most important about the nursing profession.
Every student needs to be exhorted and reminded of the great power they possess as a soon to be professional nurse. A nurse holds life and death in their hands as they provide patient care. When a nurse does their job well, patient outcomes are improved, and the plan of care is advanced.
When nurses fail to think like a nurse, this can lead to failure to rescue which results in unnecessary adverse outcomes and even patient death. This sober reality must be impressed upon every student, especially those who tend just to want to do enough to pass the test but do not desire to be the best!


To make the power that you possess as an educator practical, let me suggest the following action steps:

  1. Embrace your responsibility to be a transformational change agent. Nursing education needs to emphasize preparing students for practice. Emphasize clinical reasoning, and you will help your students not only be better prepared for the NCLEX®, but also professional practice
  2. Do not allow student response or resistance to active learning keep you from doing what is needed. Students are not expert nurses. They are novice nurses who have no idea what it means to be a professional nurse. Student feedback when given needs to be considered, but it does not override educational best practice. Resist any effort or attempt to lower the bar of learning in your program or spoon feed adult learners.
  3. Step out in spite of your fears. Every educator has a fear. Is that fear holding you back? Identify that fear then share it with another colleague. Two is better than one, and the support of another can help you overcome the challenges of doing things differently and overcoming the fear of change in academia.
  4. Encourage and exhort your students regularly about the great power they will soon possess. To think or not to think like a nurse can be a matter of patient life or death.

 In Closing

Recognize and embrace the power that you have as a nurse educator. Do not be overwhelmed by this responsibility, but instead use it to motivate you to do what is needed to bring needed change to your program.
Never lose sight of the bedside as an educator. It all comes back to the patient and the outcomes of those your students will soon be caring for.
Therefore impress upon your students the importance of being the best and remember that they have a power that like Spiderman can be used for good.
Use this power to make a lasting difference by promoting great patient outcomes and making the patient preeminent in all that the nurse does!


Learn more! The following past blogs provide additional background on today’s topic!

  1. It’s All About the Patient: An Open Letter to Nursing Students
  2. Make a Difference
  3. A Crisis in Competency: Why Students are Not Prepared for Practice

What do you think?
Have you embraced the great power you possess? How have you used it for good?
Comment below and let the conversation begin!

Keith Rischer – Ph.D., RN, CCRN, CEN

As a nurse with over 35 years of experience who remained in practice as an educator, I’ve witnessed the gap between how nursing is taught and how it is practiced, and I decided to do something about it! Read more…

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