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Can I teach but stay in a clinical environment?

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My manager has said I am a good teacher and should consider developing my career in nurse training. However, I do not want to leave the clinical environment. How can I combine my teaching and clinical skills in a way that will enhance my career?

First, it is good that your teaching potential has been recognised by your manager in this way. Teaching is a very important role for a staff nurse because your clinical role gives you plenty of opportunity to support junior staff in their day-to-day work. It can also be rewarding seeing the staff you support develop.

Opting for a career in nurse education can often, though not always, mean becoming isolated from the ward environment.

However, there are now many forward-thinking educational institutions that recognise the need for their teaching staff to keep in touch with the clinical environment – and provide opportunities for ward-based teaching as part of their teaching commitment.

On a more formal level many establishments have lecturer/practitioner posts in which the nurse carries out a dual role, which encompasses both ward-based work and a formal teaching role. It might be worth checking out this type of role with your local college or university.

Alternatively, there may be ways in which you can combine your interest in teaching with your clinical work.

Many wards have link nurse liaison roles with the local education provider. This type of position can vary considerably from ward to ward. If such a role does not already exist on your ward, then try to find out whether it is in place on other wards in the hospital. Then find out as much as you can about how it works.

If there are no such roles, maybe you can discuss it with your ward manager and your link college teacher and explore whether this is something you could do.

Typically, this role works by ensuring that the ward constitutes an effective learning environment for students and other staff undergoing training, such as HCAs undergoing NVQ assessment.

Another option you could consider is becoming a ward-based assessor for your local college.

If you have students on your ward, there will almost certainly be practice assessors who are professional practitioners who receive training and continuing professional development for this role.

Ward-based staff are frequently used to train and assess HCAs and this is usually organised by your trust’s training department.

So it should be possible to explore a number of opportunities for pursuing your aspirations for becoming involved in education provision and still continue to be a practising clinician. You can explore the possible options by talking to and networking with relevant people within your hospital and university.

Whatever avenue you choose, additional skills can only work to enhance your career prospects.

Chris Pearce, a former director of nursing, is a life coach and freelance trainer with

Want to read more Dilemma? Just click on the more by this author link at the top of the page.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Another option here is a practice developmetn nurse role which allows you to be within your unit and also to have a teaching and educational development role.

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