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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

College of Health Sciences

Jadrian Rawlings Honored with John P. Ellbogen Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching Award

Students celebrate with Rawlings


Jadrian Rawlings (center front, holding the cake) is pictured with a portion of the University of Wyoming junior nursing class, her faculty supervisor Holly Miller (to the right of Rawlings), and colleague and graduate assistant Laura Evans (far right, second row).

April 2011:

Enthusiasm for Teaching and Rich Background in Clinical Practice

University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing graduate assistant Jadrian Rawlings received the highest reward at the University for excellence in teaching:  the John P. Ellbogen Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching Award. Rawlings, a graduate family nurse practitioner student, has been a clinical instructor in the hospital setting for the last two years. "Her enthusiasm for teaching and her background in clinical practice has benefited her greatly as a teacher," says Mary Burman, dean of the School of Nursing. After receiving her baccalaureate degree from the school in 2004, Jadrian took employment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She then opted for the challenge of travel nursing, finding herself stationed in hospitals and clinics all over the country from Seattle, Washington to Charleston, South Carolina; from Phoenix, Arizona to Sodoltna, Alaska. She was placed in equally varied settings in each station, from pulmonary and gastrointestinal units to neurological and surgical units, from surgical oncology units to rehabilitation centers.

Her ability to work in this variety of settings "gives her an advantage in the role of teaching," says Holly Miller, Rawlings' faculty supervisor. "It is a large responsibility to ensure that the nursing students are providing safe, competent and compassionate nursing care. [Jadrian] had students on both the medical unit and the surgical unit at the same time. She had to be familiar with both types of patients and both units... She is patient, energetic, organized, thorough, efficient, and knowledgeable. She is always willing to step in and help her students and her colleagues. She gives clear explanations. I continually hear wonderful feedback from each and every one of her students. She is everything we want in a clinical instructor!"

The Challenges of Clinical Teaching

Dean Burman elaborated on the difficulty of Rawlings' task as a clinical instructor: "It must be emphasized that teaching clinical courses to beginning nursing students is challenging, even to full-time faculty. A teacher in a clinical setting requires a different set of skills than a teacher in the classroom. It requires understanding how to teach and the role of the teacher, while also being a strong clinician, understanding nursing care of a variety of different types of patients. Students require lots of one-on-one support by the teacher as they assume the care of patients requiring complex care in a hospital, ranging from an older adult with pneumonia to a patient just returning from the operating room. These patients need nursing procedures that include administration of intravenous medications to changing dressings on surgical wounds. The instructor must be competent in these areas of nursing practice. Moreover, beginning nursing students display a wide range of responses to their first clinical experiences: fear, uncertainty, unclear of their professional boundaries, enthusiasm, delight, or over-confidence. Consequently, facilitating student learning requires an ability to work with students in differing emotional states. As you can imagine, it is a very demanding type of instruction."

Student Response

Not only do the dean and the supervising faculty think Rawlings is deserving of this award. The consensus among Jadrian's students is summed up in one student's comment, "JD was amazing! So glad that she was my clinical instructor... Made me remember why I wanted to be a nurse."

Congratulations, Jadrian!

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