(BPT) - When patients are treated as individuals, they become engaged, active partners in their care plan and their health outcomes improve. This shift in providing customized care to patients is also being adopted by nurse educators, who are applying a similar approach that sets up nursing students for success in both the education and clinical setting. The customization of care is also a driving force behind four growing trends across education: individualized instruction, experiential learning, educating for cultural humility and increased access to education for military students.
Focusing on student success
Individualized instruction is an emerging trend that is designed to help students achieve greater confidence and overcome barriers to their education. Each student has their own preferred methods of learning, their own challenges and their own goals. When nurse educators care about the student’s individual success, everyone benefits.
“We believe that if we take extraordinary care of our students, they will in turn take extraordinary care of the patients and families they serve,” says Dr. Richard Cowling, vice president of academic affairs at Chamberlain College of Nursing. “We call this value system, 'Chamberlain Care.'”
Through the Chamberlain Care Student Success Model, a team of Chamberlain faculty, advisors and mentors identify any barriers to the student’s success and deliver individualized academic coaching and a customized support plan to encourage and support students in reaching their goals.
Fostering active learning
To help students reach those goals, nurse educators turn to another emerging trend: active learning. A stark contrast with passive learning, watching a teacher in a classroom or learning from a textbook, nurse educators are cultivating active student participation and curiosity through direct patient care and simulated and virtual learning experiences.
Active learning promotes clinical reasoning and affords students the opportunity to see the outcome of their care decisions in real time. Simulation labs, a form of active learning, engage students to explore various clinical processes but instead of live patients, high-tech mannequins are used. In addition to these on-campus labs, Chamberlain also offers virtual learning environments for students pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Both simulation and virtual learning are types of experiential learning opportunities. When direct patient care isn’t an option, experiential learning opportunities can be created by nurse educators so students can learn how to respond to disasters, treat infectious diseases or participate in other scenarios they may not have exposure to otherwise.
“Active learning experiences allow students to practice the skills they need in a safe environment,” Cowling says. “Students feel in control of their own learning because they receive real-time feedback from instructors immediately following the experience, which helps in building confidence while they actively build their clinical knowledge and skillset.”
In addition to transforming how students learn, current trends in health care influence what students learn. Today’s health care environment is becoming more complex — with a rise in chronic illness, an aging population, ever-changing technology and increasingly diverse communities. The role of the nurse is also rapidly evolving as the focus has shifted to person-centered and culturally congruent care. Students who received individualized attention and a foundation in providing person-centered, culturally congruent care enter the workforce with a deeper understanding of the needs of today’s diverse patient populations.
“We have enhanced our Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) curriculum to align more closely with the evolving health care needs of our communities and the practice settings where new nurses will serve. In fact, Chamberlain is piloting two programs to provide care to Hispanic communities and to military students,” Cowling says. “By customizing the learning experience, nurse educators help create a shift in both the education and health care industry by teaching others cultural humility and how to care for an increasingly diverse patient population in a person-centric way."
Cultural humility is a continual process of self-reflection, self-awareness and self-critique by health care providers in order to develop and maintain mutually respectful and useful partnerships with individuals, families and communities. Rather than focusing on the mastery of many cultures as in cultural competence, cultural humility suggests that understanding other cultures requires a lifelong commitment to a learning process. This encourages an intentional examination of how the nurse’s beliefs, values and assumptions influence the delivery of health care and development of relationships with patients and their families.
Leading the next generation
The nursing students today are the future nursing leaders of tomorrow. Nurse educators who place a high value on individualized instruction and active learning and prepare students to think about caring for diverse populations in a patient-centered way are helping drive the perspective of the next generation of leaders.
Whether these nurses of tomorrow go on to earn their MSN or Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, impact health policy, become nurse educators themselves or serve their local communities, students who receive customized education are empowered to achieve their goals. Thanks to the shift in education to a more customized approach, these students received the experiences, training and caring support necessary to transform health care on a local, national and global scale.