Honoring A Legacy of Care

Celebrating Our Nurse Educators During National Nurses Month

The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is pleased to commemorate National Nurses Month and National Nurses Day on May 6 with a salute to our extraordinary nursing students, alumni, and faculty who devote their lives to taking care of others.

This May, our celebration takes on a special resonance since 2022 has also been designated by the National League for Nursing as the Year of the Nurse Educator. To honor this immensely important specialization, we are spotlighting several students, alum, and faculty from CUNY SPS’s nursing education programs, who share their thoughts on their profession in this article and in a series of video shorts.

Selina OriekhoeSelina Oriekhoe is completing a MS in Nursing Education (MSN-Ed) program at CUNY SPS this spring. As a certified nurse in the operating room (CNOR) who is currently working in the operating room, she plans to use her degree to help increase efficiency in her workplace and “…hopefully help with our staffing situation.”

For Oriekhoe, this field combines her two great interests: nursing and teaching. “I have been a nurse for more than 6 years now and I love what I do,” she said. “[And] my passion for teaching stretches back to when I was in high school. Due to many social-economic barriers, I wasn’t always the fastest to pick up topics taught in class.… Little by little, I began to truly learn and grasp what we were being taught, thanks to the phenomenal teachers around me…. It was around this time I put those two passions together and decided to become a nurse educator.”

To achieve her dream, Oriekhoe chose to attend CUNY SPS first for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and later for her graduate degree. “My experience acquiring my BSN was wonderful!” Oriekhoe said. “My professors were all so pleasant, caring, and knowledgeable. I wasn’t even considering going for a master's…However, a great friend of mine had me reflect on what a great experience I had here. So I decided to come back and a few semesters later, I am now graduating.”

For those considering nursing education, Oriekhoe offers this advice. “Just start! Every nurse will come across a situation where they will have to teach somebody; whether it be patients or fellow nurses. If you’ve ever thought about how you can best educate someone on something and think nursing education is for you, start your MSN.”

Varvara McShaneVarvara McShane, RN, a graduate of the CUNY SPS MSN-Ed program, is one of those nurses who realized this field was for her.

“I have been working for CUNY as a College Laboratory Technician (CLT) for 11 years and met many nurse educators who inspired me to continue my education and move my career forward,” McShane said. “…Throughout the years I have witnessed how nursing education evolved and how important the role of a nurse educator is for the future of nursing. I wanted to be a part of this process and invest my knowledge of the laboratory component and my skills as a CLT into a degree and a career that will let me become more involved in education.… What I find fulfilling about being a nurse educator is the ability to see how graduates go on to become successful nurses, leaders, and even educators themselves.”

McShane, who works full-time and is a parent, chose the CUNY SPS MSN-Ed program initially because of the convenient online format. During her time here, she found that the program offered far more than that. “I was especially moved by how supportive everyone was in the program, from the director of the program to the academic advisor to the faculty that taught classes,” she said. “It felt like I belonged in a community.”

With this degree under her belt, McShane is applying her expertise to her CLT work as she considers her next steps.

“I currently work at LaGuardia Community College, where I hope to stay and develop my career as a nurse educator. While at CUNY SPS, I became interested in simulation learning. I believe that it is the future of education and is valuable to learning nursing skills and developing the ability to assess, interpret assessment findings, and make clinical decisions. I would like to learn more about simulation and obtain certifications as well as stay connected with the New York Simulation Center, which is a huge resource for all CUNY faculty and students.”

Even as she explores this specific practice, McShane reflects upon what makes the field so broadly appealing. “Nursing education is not only about teaching content to students. It involves teaching the ability to think critically, make clinical decisions based on evidence, and function within a professional team. It’s a challenging field but a very rewarding career.”

Melissa HindsMelissa Hinds, an alum from both the CUNY SPS RN to BS in Nursing and MSN-Ed programs, would certainly agree. Originally drawn to nursing education because she found that she was “... always teaching someone something. Teaching was a natural progression to me,” Hinds ended up getting a graduate degree in the field specifically because “…I realized that having a better foundation in education, and not just nursing, would be helpful to not just the people I work with, but myself.”

Like McShane, Hinds chose CUNY SPS for her degrees because of the flexibility that the online programs offered people working full-time. Along the way, she found an unexpected benefit.

“Connection—though the programs were virtual, I found the people I met, including my professors, always made themselves available and accessible,” she shared. “[This was] something I wasn’t familiar with prior to coming here but it was great to have a real support team. I was able to connect to people and that’s something I needed, even at a distance.”

With her MSN-ED degree, Hinds was able to expand her role at the Center for Practice Innovation (CPI) at Columbia Psychiatry, where she has worked for the past 13 years. Currently she serves as the center’s director of online assistance unit and associate director for health and technology. Hinds is also an adjunct lecturer at CUNY’s Bronx Community College, where she teaches psych nursing with a primary focus on health and technology.

As Hinds plans her next move, she sees nursing education as a way to make a difference. “For right now, I’m trying to help make change statewide. I work in integrated care, which is a hot topic for the state, and CPI has an active role in that because we have a strong presence in training. This is how I can be impactful. Changing practice on a larger scale is really important to me.…I want to make sure nurses are at that table.”

Beyond her own work, Hinds observes that the field’s allure is in its versatility. “People may think the field is restrictive, but it can provide lots of opportunities. You don’t have to technically be in a hospital or in a traditional setting. You can apply nursing education toward research, policy work… it’s really a transferable knowledge base. You can learn a bit of everything and be a leader and help people.”

Dr. Pat Bartley DanieleFor faculty in the CUNY SPS programs, nursing education has taken on an even greater importance during the pandemic. Patricia Bartley Daniele, PhD, an associate professor who teaches in the CUNY SPS undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, offered her take on how the specialization has changed over the past two years.

“Nursing education been impacted by COVID challenges, like the rest of the field,” Dr. Bartley Daniele said. “What we’re seeing is compassion fatigue and reconfiguration of our health care system. It demands an educated nursing workforce to participate in the changing health care landscape.”

Nursing education programs seek to address this shortage by nurturing new generations of students. According to Dr. Bartley Daniele, CUNY SPS seeks to do this in a variety of ways.

“The CUNY SPS nursing education program offers the opportunity to engage with the graduate nursing majors in the core courses and then develop relationships with their nurse educator colleagues in the specialty courses,” she explained. “Our program is also actively engaged in securing the best nursing education practicum course experiences to ensure that our students are prepared for clinical and academic nurse educator roles.”

Ultimately, Dr. Bartley Daniele observes, all the School’s efforts are designed to keep the wellspring of nursing going strong.

“We need clinical nurse educators to orient, support, and maintain nurses' clinical competency and development in all health care settings, and academic nurse educators to prepare undergraduate and graduate nurses,” Dr. Bartley Daniele said.

But more than anything, this requires passionate, hard-working, and driven people to help train the future generations of nurses and nurse educators—like all those profiled here. As Dr. Bartley Daniele concludes, “The focus on nursing competency development is a life-long journey for all of us.”

About the CUNY SPS Online Nursing Programs

The CUNY School of Professional Studies offers a portfolio of online degree and advanced certificate programs in nursing in order to help fill the growing void within the healthcare system. Serving as the first fully online nursing degrees in the CUNY system, our programs help nurses advance within their careers while continuing their education in a timely, flexible, and affordable way.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York’s leader in online education since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor’s and master’s degree options at the City University of New York, and serves as the University’s only undergraduate all-transfer college. With 24 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor’s degree, progress from an associate’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, and noted for its soaring growth and enrollment, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School’s renowned and affordable online programs—which offer in-state tuition to all students regardless of where they live—ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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Andrea Fagon
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