Nurse Educator = Mentor

I still look back on my time in undergrad as that of great opportunity. I had my eyes wide open and wanted to soak up as much as I possibly could. I would throw myself at the chance to learn, see, or experience something new. Looking back on those times I am so glad I had such a strong team of educators leading me on my journey. The student and nurse educator relationship could be compared to the relationship between parent and a child. Parents build a strong, safe home that allows the child to grow. They provide food, water, and shelter. They provide the child what they need until they eventually are ready to spread their wings and set out on their own journey as a young adult. Nurse Educators, in a way, do the same by supporting and mentoring the student learner.

The educator acts as a mentor to each student they encounter. This doesn’t just stop at the end of the semester or upon graduation. The imprint that can be left on the heart of a student can last far longer than a few months. Being a positive, encouraging role model is vital to the role of the nurse educator. Students often seek guidance and need support as they venture down the challenging road of nursing school. I have had numerous experiences with students in which they expressed their gratitude to me just for my availability and approachability. Establishing an open line of communication and being an ear for your students greatly supports them as they make their way through the nursing program.

Being a mentor means leading by example. Often times we will talk about how students learn differently. This can be also associated with behavior. They are always learning not only by what you show them on the whiteboard or PowerPoint but also in how you carry yourself and interact with patients at the bedside. Showing compassion is an excellent way to teach compassion.

Over my time in the educator role, I have had the tendency to think of my students as “my kids”. I spread my educational wings to protect them in the clinical environment so they can have the best learning experience possible. I am there for them if they have questions or need assistance. They feel comfortable enough to ask questions (which promotes learning) but yet they know they need to be independent too. I enjoy being able to be a mentor to them and work hard to develop a relationship with my students which fosters learning. Are you ready to be a mentor? The Nurse Educator Program at Walsh will help prepare you for the responsibility that comes with being in the educational setting and help shape you not only into a nurse educator but also a mentor.

About the Author


My name is Colleen Wiley and I am a nurse educator. Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher, but I also had an interest in learning about science. I have always loved helping people which is why I chose to pursue a career in nursing. I spent my time in undergraduate nursing school working as a nurse intern on a medical surgical unit. After graduation in 2005, I worked at the bedside caring for post-operative patients and I loved it! Eventually, I started offering to train new employees and I would also take on nursing students for their clinical preceptorship. It was then that I truly realized my real passion was seeded in becoming a nurse educator! I started working as an adjunct clinical instructor in 2010 and immediately knew this was the path for me. A fire was lit inside of me! That burning feeling of helping others was reignited as I shifted my focus from helping sick and/or recovering patients in the acute setting to helping students learn how to become a nurse. I pursued a graduate degree in nursing education which I earned in December of 2014. I have been working as a nurse educator ever since I took that first leap back in 2010.

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