Using Creativity as a Nurse Educator

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Creativity can bridge the gap between nursing theory and practice.

Educators have known for decades that the key to student learning is engagement. In nursing, the best educators engage students through creative methods that translate learning into clinical practice.

Nursing classes are known to be academically challenging, but they don’t have to be boring. When students make a psychological investment in learning, they are more apt to retain the new information, studies show. Successful nurse educators utilize active and creative learning techniques to develop nurses who are well rounded, reflective, prepared, committed and caring, researchers said in “Nursing Student Engagement: Taking a Closer Look.”

“Nursing student engagement is critical for success within nursing programs and with the goal of remaining within the profession with longevity once the students graduate,” researchers said. “Nursing is a complex area to learn, understand, and integrate into a high-quality profession. Efforts to enhance or increase student/nursing engagement will inherently affect their responses to each other and the care style they exhibit during practice.”

Nurse educators who use creative and innovative teaching methods can capture student attention and overcome the “forgetting curve,” a 19th-century theory that found information is lost over time if retention techniques are not implemented. Using creativity in the classroom is essential to curriculum development in nursing education. Registered nurses (RNs) who earn master’s in nursing degrees can become nurse educators who help shape the future of nursing education.

Inspiring Creativity in Nursing

Many of the leading learning theories identify creativity as an essential component of teaching. For example, the behaviorism theory states that educators should design strategies that stimulate and motivate learning. The cognitive learning theory says educators should provide creative opportunities that encourage learning. Constructivism states that different teaching exercises stimulate varied thought processes that promote learning.

For nurse educators, the key to inspiring creativity and student engagement is through self-reflection, researchers in Nursing2019 said. In a study titled “Strengthening Creativity in Nurse Educators,” Ahtisham Younas, MN RN, detailed strategies for developing and enhancing personal creativity, including:

Determine the soft-thinking skills that can be associated with positive outcomes.

Unlike hard-thinking skills that emphasize logic, reasoning, efficiency and specificity, soft thinking focuses on metaphors, dreaming, hunches and approximations. Hard thinking focuses on the differences between things and processes, while soft thinking seeks to find similarities and connections.

“Nurses working in a practice setting can evaluate their actions daily and identify the actions that improved patient outcomes,” Younas stated in the study. “Nurse educators can reflect on teaching and learning strategies and evaluate their effectiveness in improving student learning.”

Observe individual actions and do them differently

By breaking out of routines, patterns and established rules, individuals can discover, create and redesign thinking. Such changes can help individuals see the same information differently.

“Educators might try switching from traditional teaching strategies, such as lectures, to creative teaching strategies, such as role-playing and crossword puzzles,” Younas wrote.

Encourage and nurture imagination by asking and answering “what if” questions

“What if” questions encourage individuals to look beyond superficial situations and develop an open mind to ideas that challenge the norms.

Collaborate with other healthcare professionals

Seeking out other healthcare professionals, including experienced RNs and nurse educators, for ideas, suggestions and insights can lead to new approaches to education.

Overall, nurse educators should develop the habit of looking at situations from other viewpoints and remain curious about new teaching and learning approaches. Younas said creativity is “an essential capacity for nurse educators because it enables them to strengthen their problem-solving abilities, improve their teaching, improvise teaching and learning strategies and improve student learning.”

“Creativity could also be considered a channel to bridge the gap between nursing theory and practice. Educators should embrace this capacity and take steps to enhance it over time,” Younas said.

Enhancing Nursing Education Through Creativity

Nurse educators use a variety of techniques to ensure that students are learning and retaining information. To strengthen nursing education, nurse educators focus on these suggestions that emphasize big ideas and encourage critical thinking and reasoning skills:

  • Streamline content to reduce redundancies
  • Create a culture of wonder by encouraging questions
  • Turn students into teachers
  • Make learning active through concept mapping and role-playing

Another component that leads to success as a nurse educator is graduating from a nursing program with an MSN curriculum that supports creativity and critical thinking. Graduates of Duquesne University’s online master’s in nursing program and post-master’s certificate program learn the vital skills for working in both academic and clinical settings.

About Duquesne University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program

Duquesne University is a pioneer in nursing education, launching the first BSN program in Pennsylvania in 1937 and the first online nursing Ph.D. program in the nation in 1997. Graduates of the online MSN and online Post-Master’s Certificate in Nurse Education & Faculty Role programs have been lauded as some of the most creative and innovative nurse educators in the field today.

Both programs are 100 percent online, allowing nurses to continue their careers and personal lives while earning an advanced degree. Duquesne University MSN and post-master’s students are also able to add a concentration in Forensic Nursing or Transcultural Nursing to their course of study. For more information, contact Duquesne University today.




Nursing Student Engagement: Taking a Closer Look: OJN

Strengthening creativity in nurse educators: Nursing2019

Enhancing Your Creativity: A 10-Point Guide: Enhancing Your Creativity

5 Ways to Get Nursing Students Engaged in Your Classroom: LWW