One Size Does NOT Fit All

Susan Jepsen, MSN RN CNE
Assistant Professor Nursing

Before settling at LCC I was a nurse educator in the medical device industry.  I traveled the world conducting product trainings and proctoring multidisciplinary health care professionals.  And it was fun!  I prided myself on my ability to read the customer audience and adjust my content delivery to meet their needs.  Successfully meeting learning outcomes was always achieved. I believed that 20 years of experience had me well positioned to be successful as an educator at LCC.

How wrong I was!  Actually, I was woefully unprepared for facilitating the education of community college nursing students. Never had I encountered such a wide range of diversity in a classroom of 32 students.  Rich and poor, safe and physically abused, sheltered and homeless, physically well and terminally ill, and of course multi-lingual and multi-cultural.  My previous methodology of adapting my delivery to my audience was immediately proven to be inadequate to meet the learning needs of such an un-homogeneous group of learners. My tried and true tactics were failing to engage the target audience because the target audience was not one size fits all!   I became paralyzed with my own sense of failure and questioned my decision to stop living out of a suitcase and get a real job that would help change people’s lives. What was I thinking?

I finally settled down and reflected on what was going right and what was going wrong in my LCC classroom.  I realized that the learning was not about me and how much fun I wanted to have. It was about the students and what they were trying to achieve; which was a living wage, safe housing, a healthy family and a lifestyle of their choosing.  I realized I could help with that!

I focused my efforts on providing the resources to allow the nursing students to help themselves.  I re-worked every assignment to be a better learning tool for multiple learning styles.  I fought for more instructors in the psychomotor labs as well as more optional lab time so that the students could learn what they needed to learn, not what I thought they needed to learn in my timeframe.  I stopped trying to decipher what one pedagogy would work for the group and made myself available to help the students figure out what worked for them.

And it’s fun for me again!  Not that fun is my top priority, but not surprisingly, when the students in the classroom are engaged and learning, it is very rewarding for me to know I am an advocate for their success.