Become an Innovative Online Nurse Educator

Who I am and how I got here

Sep 30, 2019
Welcome to The Online Educator blog! My name is Natasha Nurse-Clarke and my goal is to help college educators develop lively, engaging and fun online courses! As a nurse, most of my experience is in nursing education and I will draw on this knowledge throughout this blog. If you are a college educator and teach online or hybrid courses, this blog is for you!
I plan to post once a week on Tuesdays and I hope you will tune in and come along for the ride! I will address topics about teaching online including new techniques, best practices and helpful tips. I invite you to leave comments, questions and feedback in the comments section and I will reply as soon as I am able to.
If you are an online educator and have a story of your personal struggles or challenges of teaching online, I’d love to hear about it. Also, if you have success stories or solutions, I’d love to hear about that also! 
I'd like to begin this first blog entry by sharing a little bit about myself with you. I have been a nurse for 14 years. I began working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit fresh out of nursing school. I always knew that this was where I wanted to work because I was also a NICU baby when I was born at 28 weeks. I spent 2 months in the NICU at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY (shout out to the amazing NICU team that kept me alive and well!). I absolutely LOVED working in the NICU! However, the ominous words of my preceptor came back to me about 3 years into my time in the NICU. I had the most amazing preceptor in the NICU, Ms. Anna Sullivan. I was so intimidated by working in the NICU as a new grad nurse and she really held my hand and believed in me and also helped me to believe in myself. A few weeks into orientation she told me, "You're not going to stay here." I was shocked! I didn't understand what she was talking about! What could be better than NICU! Even though I was working nights when I first started, I remember getting on the bus to go home in the morning, dead tired, but with a HUGE smile on my face thinking about the babies that I cared for and the families who's lives I touched that night. I couldn't imagine doing anything different. But my preceptor was right...
A year after graduating from nursing school, and while working full-time in the NICU, I enrolled in Graduate School to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Even though becoming a Nurse Practitioner was a big trend at the time, I knew that I wanted to teach. I remember being a young child and telling my mom that I wanted to be a teacher. She quickly discouraged me though saying that teachers were vastly under appreciated and under paid. She instead encouraged me to become a nurse. She was an LPN nurse and saw the great possibilities that a career in nursing would offer. Actually, if I'm being really honest, there wasn't really any other path I could have taken. My aunt, the matriarch of our family, was a nurse and always instilled in my older sister and I the great value and pride that comes with being a nurse. Then, of course, my last name was Nurse. So if that wasn't a sign, I don't what know else would have been. And as if that wasn't enough, my dad made both my sister and I sign an actual CONTRACT, when we were in elementary school, confirming that we would become nurses when we grew up. I now realize that's so not normal! But, as I said, I suppose I didn't have much of a choice. But that's not to say I didn't try to avoid it. 
When I went to college, I declared a Pre-Med major and went on to take my science pre-requisites. Along with the fact that I HATED chemistry, the fact that my parents could hardly afford to keep me in the college I was at, quickly put the idea of med school out of my head. After only a year at my first college, I had to move back home and enroll in a local college in New York City. I got into the very competitive nursing program at Hunter College, City University of New York, and graduated cum laude. So now we're full circle back to the NICU and Graduate School.
Knowing that I wanted to teach, I opted for the Clinical Nurse Specialist path rather than the Nurse Practitioner path. At that time, the School of Nursing at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn NY had a Clinical Nurse Specialist Program specializing in High-Risk Mother's and Infants. That was PERFECT for me! I enrolled in that program with the thought that I would become a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the NICU. After graduating, however, I realized that no such position existed where I was working. But that was just a minor detail. I created an entire portfolio and set a meeting with my Nurse Manager as well as the Chief Pediatric Nursing Officer at the time. I pleaded my case as to why the NICU needed a CNS and, of course, why I was the perfect person for the job. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I guess I thought they would just say, "Absolutely! We're going to open the position tonight and you start tomorrow!" Of course, I can see now how ridiculous a thought that was! Back to reality... while they were pleased with my ideas and enthusiasm, they confirmed that there was no such position available at the moment but were hopeful to create one within a year. Ok... Not so bad, I thought.
Interested in what happened next? Come by and catch the update next week. Sorry for the cliff hanger, but if you're anything like me, these lengthy readings are a no-no. I guess it's PTSD from my PhD years! Anyway, so glad you hung around to learn more about me and SO glad you decided to follow along on this blog journey! I look forward to this being a fun and vibrant community and I can’t wait to connect with you!

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