Catalyst for Change: A New Perspective on the Educator Role

Tuesday, November 3, 2009: 2:45 PM

Heather M. Pollex, BA, BScN, MSc(T), EdD
Claire M. Mallette, RN, MSN, PhD
Corporate Nursing, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada

Learning Objective 1: describe the key drivers in the transformation of the nursing educator role in a large Canadian teaching hospital.

Learning Objective 2: describe the change strategies used and the challenges addressed in the implementation of the educator role change.

Until recently, clinical learning needs of nursing staff at a multi-site quaternary care teaching hospital were addressed by Clinical Educators working with an outdated position description and conflicting role expectations.  Most educators felt under-valued, given that much of their time was spent in repetitive training, tracking attendance, monitoring adherence to policies and procedures, and administrative tasks.
With the increasing complexity of patient care, rapid advances in technology, the mandated baccalaureate entry to nursing practice, and the need to develop a robust recruitment and retention strategy, senior nursing management and clinical educators alike recognized the need to shift the focus of nursing education.
In the fall of 2007, concerted efforts were initiated to enhance the Clinical Educator profile and job description in keeping with the concept of an academic nursing division, one of the cornerstones of the hospital’s nursing retention and recruitment strategy.  The focus of the educator role shifted to the creation of a learning environment, promotion of learner accountability, knowledge transfer through coaching at the bedside, development of educational resources and programs that support staff development and expert clinical practice, collaboration with other members of the health care team, scholarly/research activity and leadership in change initiatives at the unit level. Concurrently, the educational preparation for Educator positions shifted upward to the Master’s level and the title was changed to Advanced Practice Nurse Educator. 
These changes have resulted in renewed energy and enthusiasm amongst the Educators. As leaders in the creation of a preferred future for nursing education and professional practice within the organization, they have become the catalyst in the development of an academic practice environment. This presentation describes the gradual transformation of the Educator role including the many challenges encountered along the way.