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Department: Called to Teach

Empowering Through Meaningful Mentorship

Dunlap, Jayne Jennings

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Journal of Christian Nursing: April/June 2021 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 128
doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000806
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How can we make a collective difference through mentorship? A mentor is a trusted teacher, tutor, guide, or coach. A Christ-like mentor is a servant, shepherd, steward, and scholar (Mauk & Hobus, 2021). Mentorship provides a unique mode by which we can engage students. Profound opportunities to steward future nurses and advanced practice nurses exist across educational settings.

Nursing faculty can affect learning by facilitating empowering experiences that challenge students to think (Bradshaw et al., 2021). For me, this involves divine help. I pray specifically that God will show me how to reach individual students in preparation for corporate teaching. Only God knows exactly what each student needs. What do these students need to see, hear, and do? is my common prayer prior to teaching. The following note from an undergraduate student reminded me of how our desire as teachers to provide optimal patient care translates directly to nursing students:

This is just a little note of thanks. Thank you for the heart you clearly put in your career as an NP and as a nursing educator. You are truly one of my favorite instructors because you can tell that you care about our education. You listen, answer questions to the best of your ability, and transfer so much knowledge about the art and heart that is lacking in today's world of nursing. I am so grateful for the abundance of knowledge you continuously pour over us. Today's lecture felt so powerful. I wanted to thank you specifically for reading an excerpt from Chip & Dan Heath's book, The Power of Moments. Lessons like that are hard to learn from textbooks. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful professors (like you) who go out of their way to teach beyond the textbook. My classmates and I always say we want to be like you when we grow up. You are an inspiration and a role model to us all. I will always think of you in my future RN years to come when I, too, go out of my way to pay attention to the little things in order to provide the best care for my patients and their family.

This student's words reaffirmed my continued search for the best ways to teach and mentor students. I had prayed prior to the lecture this student referenced, and the note reminded me how critical divine guidance is toward accomplishing this task well. I need God to work through me, and prayer is my teaching lifeline. We will come up short as teachers, but God knows exactly what students need and he equips us for mentorship interactions that bring him glory. As I reflected on the professors in my teaching team of whom this student wrote (all of whom are Christ-followers), I realized we express our faith quietly to students not by words, but through meaningful learning experiences.

Titus 2:7 instructs, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity...” (ESV). By humbly sharing what we know and have learned ourselves, with God in the lead, we may be impactful Christian mentors to those we work with and teach (Mauk & Hobus, 2021). I believe students want to be inspired by teaching mentors who are lifelong learners. Our original nursing mentor, Florence Nightingale, wrote the following timeless words to the nurses she was teaching. Her instructions in that lesson remind us where our ever-present help comes from as Christ-followers.

Unless we improve every day in our nursing, we are going back; how much more must it be, that, unless we improve every day in our conduct as Christian women, followers of Him by whose name we call ourselves, we shall be going back. (Nightingale, 1915, p. 5)

References

Bradshaw M. J., Hultquist B. L., Hagler D. (2021). Innovative teaching strategies in nursing and related health professions (8th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Mauk K. L., Hobus M. E. (2021). Nursing as ministry. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Nightingale F. (1915). Florence Nightingale to her nurses. Macmillan & Company.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship