Desperately seeking Susan: An auto-ethnographic exploration of the transition from nurse to nurse educator in Higher Education

Ramsdale, Susan Laura (2017) Desperately seeking Susan: An auto-ethnographic exploration of the transition from nurse to nurse educator in Higher Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Existing research implies that the transition from clinical nurse to nurse educator in higher education (HE) is a difficult and not always successful process. This auto-ethnographic investigation was designed to explore the phenomenon through my own experiences and the perceptions and understandings of the 13 participants within the study. The participants were purposively selected and comprised: three Heads of School, two nurse educators with a PhD., two nurse educators without a doctorate, two lecturer practitioners, two clinical service managers responsible for the recruitment and employment of nurses and two commissioners of nurse education from Health Education England (HEE). The rationale for this study sprang from a desire to improve the transition experience. It was my supposition that enhanced comprehension of the wider roles and responsibilities of a nurse educator would establish the range of skills and knowledge necessary to successfully undertake this career move. This knowledge would then underpin a developmental pathway for practising nurses to prepare for a new career in education.
The primary data collection method was semi structured interviews and my personal reflections. The data were organised through a Framework Analysis; a theme based analysis supported by the development of charts in which the data were collated and linked and the themes identified in relation to the research questions. The data were then categorised into three analytical categories reflecting the theoretical framework of the study: (1) the qualities of a good nurse educator, (2) the preparation needed to achieve the skills and knowledge necessary to be a good nurse educator and (3) the position of nursing as an academic discipline within HE. The research found that the culture of nursing is so pervasive that it permeates existence and thus nurses do not see the move into education as a career move but rather an extension of their nursing role. This was felt to be exploited by higher education institutions to ensure the delivery of high workload nurse education curricula and in turn impedes the development of an academic identity by restricting involvement in wider university and scholarly activities. The impact is a negative perception of the overall standing of nursing as an academic discipline. The need for doctoral level qualification within nursing is pivotal in its quest for professional and academic status, yet the core qualities and values of care and compassion are identified as equally important. Recommendations are presented for potential nurse educators, novice nurse educators, senior management within HE and for possible future research.

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