Nursing Educator Gives Insider Perspective on Entering Academia

Graduate nurses hold important positions in the world of health, assisting an increasingly dependent medical field as more and more physicians enter retirement. However, nurses with graduate degrees can contribute to medicine through more than just patient care. As professors, graduate nurses have the unique responsibility of helping to educate and grow the nursing workforce.

Harriette Carr, a registered nurse and adjunct professor at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California, recently spoke out about her time teaching pre-nursing classes.

Carr earned her bachelor’s in nursing from California State University in Chico, California, but immediately knew that she wanted to teach. She returned to Chico and earned her masters degree with an emphasis in nursing education because she wanted to become a true specialist. After completing her masters, she went to California State University in Los Angeles and earned her teaching credentials.

Since then, Carr has been teaching students with gusto. While working directly with patients is satisfying, being able to teach a new generation of students how to become nurses can make a huge impact on an area’s overall quality of health. However, for Carr, while helping patients is an important end goal, her favorite part is the students themselves.

“I particularly like working with students.” said Carr.“It’s enjoyable to see them exploring their options in health care occupations.”

For someone hoping to enter the world of academia alongside Carr, she believes the most important thing to do is set goals early. By thinking in the long term about a career as a nursing educator, a student opens themselves up to be much more flexible about their education options.

That flexibility comes in handy according to Carr. A student who wants to teach nursing needs to have expertise in both the clinical aspects of being a nurse and in the intricacies of being an educator. Becoming a specialist in both means being open to changing technology and new research in the medical field. A technologically savvy student open to new research findings, and an ability to adapt to them, might very well find themselves moving out of the clinic and back into the classroom.