By Joseph Gaccione (UNLV School of Nursing Associate Director of Communications)
There are many notable accolades for nurse educators, but few have the weight of the National League for Nursing. An organization that's existed since 1893, the NLN fosters professional and personal growth for nursing education in the United States. In addition to its numerous resources for leadership growth, policy initiatives, and research, the organization also carries weight with its distinct certifications and recognitions, like the prestigious Center of Excellence label (which UNLV Nursing received in 2019).
In short, when the NLN puts a nurse or nursing institution in the spotlight, it's a big deal. That's why the 2022 NLN Education Summit was so special for UNLV. The Education Summit is an annual event where nurse leaders can workshop together and share ideas and research with colleagues. This year's event took place in September in Las Vegas, Nevada, and two UNLV nurses were recognized for their superlative efforts in teaching.
Dr. Margaret "Meg" Moorman was inducted into the NLN Academy of Nursing Education Fellows (ANEF). Meanwhile, Meghan Liebzeit, a current UNLV Nursing Ph.D. student, was named a National League for Nursing Jonas Scholar. Though their research and methods may be different, both share a passion to change how nursing is taught, and these recognitions reinforce their hard work.
Margaret "Meg" Moorman, Ph.D., RN, CNE, WHNP, '13
Dr. Margaret Moorman is a Clinical Associate Faculty at Indiana University, where she also serves as MSN program director and director of the Faculty Innovating for Nursing Education (FINE) Research Center. To be named a Fellow exemplifies a highly successful track record in educating students; notable leadership; and creativity.
The primary reason for Moorman’s fellowship induction is from her research in visual thinking strategies, or VTS. This concept uses art to teach observational and communication skills and has applications in K-12 as well as higher education. “We take students to the art museum. A facilitator guides conversation about a piece of art. It's not about the artwork, it's about the conversations and the way the facilitator works with the students.” When Moorman takes her own nursing students to a museum, she considers all of their opinions and interpretations, no matter how proficient they are in art theory or technique. “We’ve discovered if 10 people look at a work of art, they can all see something different, and some people will notice things that other people don't notice.” Additionally, Moorman points out as facilitator, she is not there to tell someone if they’re right or wrong. “Everything is a possibility, and all things are considered. Everyone's opinion gets equal attention. This increases the likelihood that students will participate, and we want to hear what they are thinking and how they are noticing what is going on.”
These observational skills developed through VTS can have a direct impact on health outcomes. “If I was calling a report to a physician and I said, ‘This patient isn’t doing well’, that may not convey what I am actually seeing. VTS pushes me to give evidence for what I’m seeing and go further. Instead of just leaving it at that, I may go further to validate my findings by saying, 'He is not oxygenating well, his lips are blue and he is having retractions.' This extra information, which can be gleaned by looking deeper and communicating more effectively, can help healthcare workers communicate and intervene sooner, improving patient outcomes. VTS can help students look, then look again and notice more. This can translate into developing keener observational and communication skills among the healthcare team.” She adds that VTS can also help nurses develop better listening skills by seeking to really listen and understand patients’ concerns. “VTS facilitation requires that listening and paraphrasing back can help develop listening and comprehension,” Moorman says. “When students learn to facilitate with their patients and paraphrase back, seeking to understand them, this can convey deep caring and intent to help. That is so meaningful for a patient who is in pain.”
Moorman's path to nursing could have been obvious at an early age. She comes from a house of health providers, including her mother the nurse. But initially she didn’t want to follow in her footsteps. Her life direction changed when a family friend in obstetrics asked her to help file in his office, and a nurse persuaded her to watch a delivery. “The nurse went up and talked to this 16-year-old [patient] who had no anesthesia, and she supported her," Moorman recalled. "All of a sudden, she delivered. When we were walking back to the office, I said, ‘I'm going to change my major. I want to do what you just did with that patient. You came in and completely supported her, and it changed everything. That's what I want to do.’”
After obtaining her Nurse Practitioner degree, she was asked to consider teaching, but was not interested because she noticed that nurses were being taught the same way that she was taught. A former professor challenged her to try to improve nursing education. That challenge stuck with her, and she was motivated to shift her career to teaching and try to make nursing education more collaborative and innovative. “I'm fascinated by how we learn and the dynamic between the teacher and the student and I want it to be more collaborative, and I really like that process," Moorman says. "It’s still very much the sage on stage. We still teach in the same way we always have. I try to engage learners in the process and help them engage with content in a more meaningful way as opposed to me “giving” them the content, the old philosophy of the “sage on stage”. I try to collaborate and help students think about the content and why we do the things we do in teaching and nursing…providing evidence for how we practice.”
Moorman graduated with her Ph.D. in Nursing in 2013 from UNLV based on recommendations and options for remote learning. “There's a lot of programs now," she says, "but I've referred colleagues to UNLV because it was user-friendly for people who work full-time and for people who wanted to study from a distance.” Her passion for teaching is based in part on helping those who are experts in their field of nursing enter into a teaching career. “They have the clinical expertise, but how do you teach people that content, and how do you make sure they retain it and how do you help them enact that knowledge in the clinical realm?," Moorman asks. "How can nurses create a career shift to academia, using their clinical expertise? How can we support nurses who want to shift to academia and learn best practices for teaching, while also building a new career that may take them into retirement?” Recently she collaborated with faculty to design a comprehensive orientation that spans new instructors’ first year of teaching to support and guide them in shifting to a career in academia, with modules that support their teaching and open forums to discuss teaching dilemmas. “We have nurses who have worked clinically for years in patient care and want to teach but do not have a background in education," she says. "We want to support them during that first year, ensuring they learn teaching methods and have comprehensive support in their teaching and in their career change. This orientation is designed to give them teaching and moral support as they create a new career in academia, hopefully keeping them with us for the long run!”
But this reasoning also applies to her students. “I can stand in front of a classroom and lecture about medication to induce labor, but that doesn’t mean they will retain it," Moorman explains. "We try to give learners several ways to engage with content, so that if they’re kinesthetic learners, we use mannequins and simulation, but auditory learners may benefit from a podcast. We try to give our new educators the same opportunity. We record sessions, meet with them one-on-one, and give them case studies that deal with difficult classroom situations. We appeal to a variety of learning styles.”
Meghan Liebzeit, MSN, RN, CPN
In addition to her doctoral studies at UNLV, Meghan Liebzeit currently teaches at Bellin College of Nursing in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Being named an NLN Jonas Scholar will help fund Liebzeit’s dissertation research and conference travel expenses (Moreover, the title Jonas Scholar stems from another prestigious philanthropic organization dedicated to promoting nurse education).
Her dissertation topic involves how the pre-briefing phase of clinical simulation impacts a student’s learning, compared to the actual simulation and debriefing sections. “I’m getting into the theory of things, I'm looking at metacognitive aspects, I'm looking at reflective theory and I'm looking at neurobiologic theory as well.” Liebzeit explains based on her research, pre-briefing hasn’t received as much attention when it comes to breaking down the simulation process. “It's been more about, ‘Here's a little bit of information. [Go] into the simulation, and then we'll debrief.’ What has been identified is that learning does occur during the debriefing, but I have a feeling we're going to find out that pre-briefing is a way to set learning up. If you give students that advantage, you're going to have a better, more holistic learning experience versus when pre-briefing is limited.”
Liebzeit added she assisted her team in creating a clinical model specifically for simulation, which will help guide her investigation. “I've been teaching the simulation course for five years and I just thought, 'This pre-briefing, I can see how they are doing so much better at preparing to care for their patients as time goes on.’ I thought we need to look at this because I recognize that as a nurse I prepare for my patients, but I can do it in five minutes where students need a little bit more time. If we can develop a way for students to be able to do this before they ever even get into the clinical setting, I think that's an advantage.”
Originally, Liebzeit pursued a career in biology but transitioned into nursing based on a number of reasons, from having a desire to help people to knowing others who loved being nurses. But regardless of the subject, she knew she wanted to teach. It was ingrained in her as far back as high school. In both her junior and senior years of high school, she and a few classmates taught middle school students about drug and sexual health awareness. “That was probably my first introduction to theory of teaching because we went to a camp and they actually taught us, “How do you teach this stuff to someone?” Afterwards, she taught swimming lessons, where she built upon her educator role. “You have the same educator role except that in swimming lessons, you have to adjust to the different developmental levels, which I think that one was just a little bit more innate for me.”
While Meg Moorman came from a family of health providers, Liebzeit comes from a family of educators, who she looked up to for best practices. “It was more just watching and learning by example.” She adds her father provided great insight into being direct with students. “He's always been a ‘tell it like it is’ person, so I've been the same way; very clear and forthright with my students, and I've had a lot of success with that. I don't beat around the bush. I think they respect me for that as well.”