Nursing Education Outside of the Classroom

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Sara Morasch, a graduate from Duquesne University, discusses how she is utilizing her MSN in Nursing Education from Duquesne to teach outside of the classroom.

Webinar Participants:

  • Sara Morasch, MSN, RN, BC – Master of Science in Nursing, Nursing Education & Faculty Role graduate
  • Sonia DePina – Enrollment Advisor
  • Karisma Vicioso – Enrollment Advisor
  • John Hall – Enrollment Advisor
  • Staci Bell – Enrollment Advisor


Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar today we will be chatting with Duquesne graduate Sara Morasch about utilizing your nurse educator degree outside the classroom and within a clinical setting. This is Sonia DePina one of your enrollment advisors for Duquesne’s online nursing program.  I’m also joined today by Karisma Eicioso and John Hall, we’ll be going through a few questions with Sarah before we open it up for Q&A.  For today’s audience you’ll see a Q&A tool on your screen where you can ask a question to send forward to Sarah to discuss.  But before we jump in today’s discussion Sarah would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself.

Sure, so I’m Sarah Morasch. I obtained my BSN and MSN both from Duquesne and my BSN was in 2002. And after graduation I joined the United States Navy I was a navy nurse for five years and then departed that and moved to Spokane Washington where I’ve been ever since. I currently work as a clinical educator for our procedural areas and so Cath lab, electrophysiology, interventional radiology and the cardiac admit recovery area in addition to that there’s lots and lots of other house wide initiatives that. I help with including general hospital orientation ACLS renewal and different classes that we’ll get into a little later. Personally, I have a 2-year-old niece that I absolutely adore and she keeps us on our toes and laughing a lot.

Thanks, so much Sarah so we have a few questions specifically about your current role within the nursing education. To begin can you tell me what experiences sparked your interest in nursing education?

I think it’s something that I’ve always had an interest in from becoming a nurse we spend a lot of time educating our patients and it was a natural flow to then start educating new nurses and corpsman when I was in the Navy, that would come to our unit. I was a team leader while I was in the Navy so I did a lot of precepting and orienting and found that I had kind of it was a niche for it. I felt like I did a good job the staff that I had precepted an oriented felt they were well prepared and it just kind of progressed from there. When I moved to Spokane was at Sacred Heart Medical Center I was a frequent reference for new staff. I collaborated with our nurse educator for skills reviews and then when I became an assistant manager I started to create learning materials for staff such as like a rhythm of the month, the medication of the month to highlight some of the new things coming out it just felt like it was a good fit for me and when the clinical education position opened that I applied for my interviews with the staff and management teams of those areas went well and it was a good fit and I just fell into it.

Wonderful. Now you say you felt into it was this always the specialty that you always wanted to go into in a clinical setting or did you ever consider teaching a teaching position at a university?

I did consider a teaching position at a university but I felt at the time when I was returning for my master’s degree that I would be a better fit for a clinical educator position in the hospital setting. Just because that’s what I was familiar with I had a great mentor and I pretty much want to be Lin when I grow up. As a nurse educator she’s just phenomenal so seeing what she did and following that path with her. So, when I applied for my masters in nursing education I knew it was with the mindset of working in the hospital setting.

Fantastic. And you say you want to be like Lin when you grow up so can you explain a little bit about your current role in working with other nurses in the hospital?

Yeah, so when I work with other nurses, it’s across the entire scale of nursing professionals. I work with other nurse educators in other areas so an example of that would be our Cath lab they brought on a new device for radial hemostasis and I worked with the nurse educator for the telemetry units to orient the staff to this new device so that when the patient’s arrived to that floor the nurses knew what the device was, knew how to care for that patient properly. So, there’s collaboration between other educators. There’s collaboration between nurse educators and the management areas. I work very closely with the managers and supervisors of the procedural areas as well as the director to discuss educational needs of staff and how to roll those out, determine if it was in the budget to do so, so if it’s financially responsible. I work with new hires we have touch points with our residency program so there’s brand new graduate nurses coming in that we do education with, we have their residency classes with.  I also work with our cardiac event recovery area once a month I’ll attend their safety huddles and provide updates from the educator side of things.  I participate in unit based councils so the shared governance of between unit staff and managers, who again help roll out things like skills fair annual updates annual competencies. I round with my staff once a week, I go to the different areas check in with the staff and make sure that they have everything they need and what educational needs that I can help meet for them. So, I see nurses across the board from new hires all the way up to the director level.

That’s quite interesting so it’s something new every day. I mean you don’t run in a you know routine every day that’s wonderful and there is no routine. Within that scope you still interact with patients as well?

The bad thing about my position as the job description is I do not interact with patients. But I take it as I can work behind the scenes and provide my frontline staff with the updated evidence and with the best practices so that they can provide the absolute best care for the patients that come to our hospital.  I look at it a little differently I’m on the back end of things.

Wonderful. So, it’s like teaching your nurses how to teach patients basically?

Kind of, yeah!

And in your opinion, do you feel that there is a need for nurse educators in the hospital or other clinical settings?

Absolutely! Currently within our facility alone we have to open educator positions that we are having a hard time filling because we don’t have qualified applicants. We don’t have application Master’s in nursing education we don’t have applicants that have that that foundation that you gain from a truly education focused program to design educational opportunities and to collaborate with other educators. So, we most definitely need more nurse educators in the hospital setting.

Great. And kind of digging into your memory here and going back to your MSN, can you tell us a little bit about your practicum hours and what study did you complete it in?

So, I have several practicums that I did one of them was for the research class that we took and I actually did that in the academic setting. I had a professor who was working on a qualitative study so I reviewed interview transcripts for her and looked for common themes that the students who were interviewed pull had in those transcripts it was it was interesting.  But was it my favorite? No, my favorite practicum was actually my final practicum and I was at the facility I currently work out with our emergency department educator and Colleen is a very experienced nurse and a very experienced educator with a master’s in nursing education. She was phenomenal to work with. I did course evaluations they had put on a large trauma conference right before I started so we reviewed those. I attended management meetings with her, I worked I did orientation aspects with her. We looked at he was very passionate about sexual assault so I attended those classes with her and several meetings with local police department and we partner with Lutheran Community Services here in Spokane and we met with them and just seeing that an educator just doesn’t sit in an office and type stuff up that they’re interacting and trying to meet the needs not only of staff but of patients and of the community at large. And I just I learned so much from Colleen about what an educator actually does because I think we have an idea in our head starting out and then you start in your role and you realize that it is just far greater than that job description then those three sentences that say what you do.

That’s so wonderful and nice that you mentioned the fact that you attended some of those like forensic type meetings as well because we actually just launched some new concentrations with some of our specialties. And for example, nurse education also has a concentration in forensic nursing so there’s many different aspects that our current students or even our future students they’re interested in Duquesne can kind of take advantage of so that’s great. I’m kind of jumping into your experience at Duquesne, what led you towards choosing Duquesne for your nurse education degree?

Duquesne actually has a really good reputation. I knew the reputation from my bachelor program, but when you look at you know the ratings of Duquesne it’s always highly rated across the nation they were you know one of the they were the first program to put a Ph.D. program online so they know how an online program works. I was very impressed throughout the program then with the ability to interact with professors. I think that Duquesne is kind of cutting edge, there they’re leading the way and they’re doing everything right to provide a really stable, phenomenal education for anybody when in their Master’s programs. But for nursing education in particular, I thought it had a great reputation I recognize some of the names and faces from my bachelor’s program and knew that they were phenomenal instructors.

Wonderful. And what were some of the benefits of doing your program online?

So, I live on the west coast so there is a three-hour time difference and I can tell you that the asynchronous learning environments on different sides of the country is very beneficial. If it was an 8 o’clock class in Pittsburgh it would have been a 5 a.m. class here and that just doesn’t work very well for me I’m not a morning person.  But I could I could asynchronously do the assignments on my time. Everything was laid out so if I wanted to work ahead I could if I knew I had a busy week I could work ahead and plan for that busy week I had versus just going to class and realizing “oh my gosh” I don’t know how I’m going to get this done. The entire semester was laid out from day one so you knew the expectations from day one.

Perfect. And what were some of the challenges you feel from learning online?

I don’t think you build the relationships with your classmates and instructors in an online setting that you can in a physical environment when you’re interacting face-to-face with them, but we had some week-long immersions we had you know our initial orientation and then we came back for a week in our final year. And those were really great that you go, “Oh your who has been communicating on blackboard with for the last two years it’s so nice to put a face and actually talk to you in person instead of just reading your post”. So I think that that is a challenge is that the relationship building is different it’s just not the same as in person it doesn’t mean it’s bad it’s just different but those immersion weeks those were those are awesome. Getting to meet all of the students within the MSN program, meet your instructors, get together for dinner and talk about okay “How are things going?” and “Are you struggling with this? Oh good, me too”.

Absolutely. It’s like you that immersion week allowed you to kind of bounce ideas off of other students kind of elaborate and really take away some great ideas and points.  And do you still connect with some of your own old peers?

I do actually, Susan Hardener, she works at Duquesne and she reached out to me for this webinar. There’s a couple of others that we were in the program together and we communicate back and forth here “What is your hospital doing about this? O what have you heard about that?” And it’s really good networking. It’s nice to see you know what big facilities across the country are doing not just what your hospital is doing. So, it’s good to have those connections and that networking to kind of reach out to everyone smile and say “Okay we’ve heard about this, what are you guys doing about it?” So it’s been pretty cool that way.

Great, and what advice would you give students looking into a nurse education program?

So, I would say jump in with both feet but at the same time I find an educator first to maybe shadow and really interview them about what it is that they do on a daily basis. We desperately need nursing educators but you really have to have a passion for making improvements and working independently.  My manager here trusts that from 8:00 to 4:30 every day I am working on something for the education department I am not micromanaged, you’re very much a self-starter in this role. You really want to make sure you have a passion for improving patient care and safety and then also being willing to work with a variety of staff. I work with text nurses, physicians, pharmacists, new grads, directors just making sure that you’re comfortable with working pretty much with any and all comers to the hospital. So self-motivation time management prioritization is huge but definitely being open to educational opportunities that are outside of academia world because they do exist and they are pretty amazing.

Great thank you for that. I’m sure students will definitely appreciate that and take that into account when looking at nurse education degrees.

We definitely want to open it up for a few questions from our audience. If you have questions for Sarah or about our nurse education program feel free to submit them through the Q&A window or sorry the Q&A window on your screen.

Sarah, actually does look like we have a question here. They are asking you know during earning MSN degree program kind of how was your day in life like a quick snippet did you work full time how did you balance that between work life home life balance and school a balance?

So there really was no balance. It was work and school. The fortunate thing for me is I while obtaining my masters was not married did not have children so I did not have that aspect to worry about balancing but I did work full-time I was an evening shift assistant nurse manager. So I worked 40 plus hours a week so in the mornings I would wake up while gone to blackboard do what I had to do get my readings done, work on assignments and then I would go to work from about 1:30 until about midnight. It was it was a long three years, but looking back it was absolutely 100% worth it and it was only three years. So, it’s hard. It is, but the rewards are definitely worth the struggle.

Outstanding! Thank you, Sara. I think we have another question here.  Is there any particular memorable special project that you’ve worked on that you can kind of touch on in relation to a nurse education?

Yeah, so in my nurse educator program we had a class that was basically teaching you to go from a bedside nurse to being an educator. It was a great class and one of the projects we had to create a teaching project through the initial learner assessment, implement the project and do a post assessment. And having worked on the cardiac floor, I chose to discuss heart failure and our treatment options diagnosis and the like for our newer nurses to the floor. Five years later, I’m proud to say that we still offer that learning opportunity to new staff coming on board so they have a better understanding of what a patient with heart failure is going through from initial diagnosis all the way up to potential transplant. I was very proud of that that piece of work and that’s what I worked on for the project for that class.

Awesome, great! And have you set for the CNE certification?

I have not. This March, I will actually hit my two-year mark as a clinical educator and so then I can look at the ANPD certification and that is a goal of mine. It will probably be a goal to complete in 2019 so I have not sat for it yet but it is it is there it is a goal.

And for those students that don’t know what type of certification that is can you kind of go into it and how you’re planning on utilizing that certification?

Yeah so ANPD, the Association of Nurses and Professional Development and that is that is our professional organization for clinical educators and it can be educators in the hospital setting or in academia. It’s all about professional development. Trying to think what else. Tt’s very similar so if you’re a critical care nurse you take the CCRN and you belong to the critical care nursing Association. I belong to that Association now as a member I get monthly access to journals they get, free continuing education, learning opportunities, webinars, things that just work to enhance my ability to be a nursing professional development but more specifically to help my nurses develop themselves. I think a lot of nurses at the bedside becomes stagnant and I applaud all of you that are on this webinar for continuing to pursue higher education and for looking to the future and seeing what else is out there what else can I do but joining ANPD if you take the path of an educator provides amazing resources starting out as a clinical educator as an educator helped get you to that point where you are the expert and you are just you’re running it and doing great that helps.

And looks like we actually have another interesting question here. What kind of preparation have you been doing for this exam and do you feel like your curriculum that you learn through Duquesne University prepared you for this certification exam?

So, I do believe the program through routine has prepared me to be a nurse educator absolutely 100% I do. It was really focused on the nurse as an educator role and we used the nursing process of assess plan, implement, and reassess we use that exact same plan in the nurse education world. It was very focused in the MSN program on how to be an educator how to design a curriculum, how to design a learning project and I use my textbooks that I had in my MSN program all of the time to help with those teaching projects that I work on. As far as the certification exam they actually have a little study book through ANPD and that’s what I’m using to prepare the ANPD handbook was recently revised and so I’m utilizing that for their scope and standards practice.

Thank you for that insight Sara. So, it actually looks like we’re just about out of time for today’s webinar. So, thank you for all those that participated. And Sara, a huge thank you for spending some time with us today to really just talk about your experience especially about the notes educator program. And to our audience, if you have any questions about our nurse educator program or if you just interested in getting started please do not hesitate to reach out to your enrollment advisors and we can help you with your next steps. Thank you, make it a great day.

Thank you!