The purpose of pursuing a baccalaureate education is to build on and move nurses beyond the technical nursing skills, learned in the first two years of education, to the professional level of nursing. This transition involves development of independent and critical thinking skills for clinical decision-making, preparation to participate on a collaborative level in multidisciplinary work, shifting focus from care of individuals and individuals within a community to the health of a community, refining professional communication, and developing beginning leadership skills. To accomplish this nurses choose a program where they will be guided, critiqued and coached in the process. Learning to be an independent thinker involves participatory learning, versus passive listening to lectures. The work will include considerable team work, discussion, and feedback on communication skills (verbal and written). Communication skill is emphasized because that is how one demonstrates what and how one thinks and because communication influences how others perceive and respond to us. The learning process will not always be comfortable (that is part of the process you elected to pursue), but it will be beneficially rewarding.
As I wrote the preceding passage I was struck by the early Fall campus scene outside my office window. Across the campus a lone girl was tightrope walking. [IMAGE- student_tightrope - align right, wrap text left]One at a time, students approached and she taught them to tightrope walk. They would get on the rope, ankles straining and legs quivering as they desperately try to balance themselves. She held them to help balance. By the middle of the rope, most are able to recapture their balance independently and she gradually let go, but stood by for assistance. Some proceeded carefully and reached the other end. Showing off, some got into awkward straddling predicaments, and, with assistance, recouped and finished their walk. Only one refused assistance and gave up. Most proceeded cautiously, but deliberately, to the other end. All who finished walked away more assuredly and with new skill. I was struck by how they could learn beginning tightrope walking skill in one session and by how similar this process is to the one entering nursing students begin. May you all enjoy your journey, use the assistance available to you, and walk away with new skills and new friends. The faculty looks forward to engaging and working with you through this process.
Mary Ann Thurkettle PhD,
RN Associate Professor Chair,
Department of Nursing