By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
As a nursing student, I was always awestruck when an instructor could rattle off a few points that keyed me into what I should be thinking about when I approached a patient, or use questions to lead me through a thought process that ended with the discovery that I’d known the answer all along. It never dawned on me that those were teaching skills, tools of the trade that she’d learned as an educator.
Last week, I spent a few days in Orlando, Florida, attending the 2011 Education Summit of the National League for Nursing, or as most nurses know it, “the NLN.” I’d venture that if you asked most nurses (who aren’t faculty, that is) what they know about the NLN, they’d answer that it’s the body that accredits nursing schools (key information when deciding what nursing program one should attend). While that’s partially correct, that’s only one part of the NLN’s mission.
Some history. Founded in 1893 (it’s the oldest nursing organization in the United States) as the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses, its purpose was to develop a standardized training program for nurses. In 1996, the NLN separated this function into a separate entity called the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). In 2001, the NLNAC was incorporated as a subsidiary of NLN and the NLN focused on “faculty development programs, networking opportunities, testing and assessment, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives.”
The Institute of Medicine report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” was a major underlying theme of the 2001 summit conference. Donna Shalala, the co-chair of the IOM report committee, pulled no punches in her opening address. My favorites: “Nurses are over 3 million strong and it’s time you all start acting like it.” She exhorted the audience to “get their muscle on” and to push regulators and legislators to change laws keeping nurses from practicing to the full capabilities within their education and training.
Especially impressive was how well attended all the concurrent sessions were—these were the nitty-gritty “how to” sessions that highlighted new technologies for the classroom (or virtual classroom, as the case may be) or addressed that age-old problem of how to make clinical experiences good ones.
I attended one particularly good session from a team at Oregon Health Sciences University detailing their innovative project to prepare staff nurses as clinical teaching associates. Sessions on simulation, using social media, and Web-based technology were king and emphasized the fact that many students don’t have to actually go to class nowadays.
Does anyone remember overhead transparencies?