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Trending Topics in Nursing Education: Mentoring Clinical Faculty and Finding a Healthy Work-Life Balance 

By May 13, 2021June 6th, 2023No Comments
Nurse Educator

Last week on Facebook and YouTube Live, I continued my series on trending topics in nursing education, responding to questions that have generated significant discussion by nursing faculty in the Facebook Group Teachers Transforming Nursing Education

“Do you have any resources, suggestions, or articles about mentoring clinical faculty? I’m working on a project to include best practices for mentoring clinical faculty. Thanks.” 

The John Hopkins School of Nursing offers Core Concepts for Clinical Preceptors & Faculty which includes online learning modules designed to develop and improve the teaching and mentoring skills of clinical faculty and preceptors. Their goal is to significantly increase the number of qualified and trained preceptors to meet the growing need for qualified nurses. I recommend exploring these and other modules:

  • Principles Of Evaluation–How Do I Evaluate Competency?
  • Clinical Reasoning Skills–How, Why, And When Are You Doing That?
  • Creating A Culture Of Caring–Can I Show You Self-care And Being A Nurse?
  • Transition To Professional Nursing Practice

I have also written a number of blog posts on the topic of clinical education. You can review all posts in this category or search by keywords. Take a look at my posts on active learning, clinical judgment, clinical reasoning, using unfolding case studies to supplement clinical, and many more. 

My book Teach Students to Think Like a Nurse offers critical information for teaching clinical and pearls of wisdom from clinical educators, including: 

  • Template: Deep Learning of What’s Most Important in Clinical.
    • Prepares students for your clinical rotation by identifying the meds, labs, problems, complications, and nursing skills that need to be known.
  • Worksheet: Patient Preparation.
    • Simplified clinical prep tool for advanced students. It’s just like the worksheet I use in my clinical practice.
  • Quick Medication Guide:
    • Concise summary of major pharm classes to help students quickly grasp the most common classes and the prefixes/suffixes they have in common. Contributed by Nancy Delmont.
  • Patient Assessment Form.
    • Guide that highlights physical assessment and resultant care priorities. Great for clinical education with beginning students. Contributed by Patricia Pence.

You can also get free handouts that will assist you in teaching clinical. One of the free resources included in this download that faculty find useful is my Understanding Pathophysiology worksheet.

I created six sequential questions that a clinical educator can use to contextualize pathophysiology to the patient that is being cared for and help develop the critical thinking that students require to be safe and better prepared for professional practice.

“Is there any hope in academia?”

The second faculty question that I addressed really resonated with me: 

“I have probably erased my post several times because I can not find the exact words to say. I am tired physically and mentally. I have been working in academia for the last 5 years. I’ve only had one year of bliss. The other years have been rough. 

However, at times I wonder was this the right decision. I put in countless hours in front of my computer, but my family continues to lack my “presence.” I go above and beyond to keep up with deadlines, trying to get ahead but most days I feel as though I am drowning. 

I am tired. All I wanted in life was to find that dream job to make a difference in my community. I thought I could bring about change…..I am so exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

I am seeking a work environment that believes in work-life balance. Is there one really out there?!?!  However, I don’t believe it should be 60 or more hours a week for work and your family receives what is left. It is not very much left, I may add. My patience is very slim during my time with them. I serve others but can NOT serve my family! There is something wrong with this system!!!

I just need some encouraging words and prayer. Because seeing what I see now, it doesn’t look good for my mental health and physical well-being.


A Mentally Drained  Educator”

I think it’s safe to say we have all felt this way at some point in our careers. So what can we do to be true to our calling as nurses and nurse educators without draining 100% of our energy every day?

Be still and listen to your inner voice. Give yourself permission to set boundaries. You set the precedence, not the students, not the job, not your peers. YOU. Honor yourself and you will be a better you.

You are pursuing your passion because it’s what you feel called to do. When you are perpetually tired, it’s the first stage of burnout.


  • Work is NOT your life! Do you struggle with performance-based self-worth? You are much more than your identity as a nurse educator. Remember that you are valuable because you are you and your job will be quickly filled if something happens to you. 
  • Don’t be crushed by your student feedback. We need to step back as educators and realize that others don’t define us. 
  • Identify your life priorities. Faith, relationships, passions outside of work.
  • Create a calendar. Schedule priorities including work and personal responsibilities. Make sure your most important priorities are in your schedule.
  • Set healthy boundaries. Many times you will have to “just say no.” For example, no text and email on the weekends or evenings. Limits allow you to be more productive.
  • Self-care is essential. Take care of yourself first so you can then help others. Take time for hobbies. Rest leads to RESToration. 
  • Don’t shortchange sleep. You need at least 7 hours per night.
  • Work/life balance is possible with intention. 
  • Identify your NEXT step today!

One educator said, “Having a great team of faculty and staff by your side is essential. Just like in nursing you should never feel alone. Balance is hard, this is what we preach to our students who are juggling so much and feeling overwhelmed and we have to remember to do the same.”

Closing Thoughts

What legacy do you want to leave behind? Think about your life legacy, and beyond your work as a nurse educator. Ask yourself, what is really important to you? Are you making time for what is most important? Don’t get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent and forget what’s most important. 

Find your work-life balance. It’s different for everyone. Learn more in Michael Hyatt’s Creating a Life Plan. I also highly recommend Michael Hyatt’s book Win at Work and Succeed at Life: 5 Principles to Free Yourself from the Cult of Overwork.

Make it a priority to change and do things differently. When you have a full tank, you can give more to your students!

To learn more, watch this video:

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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