1. Pappa, Emily

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Take a moment and recall your first job after graduation. You walk into a new unit proudly displaying your badge, radiating excitement, and looking forward to working with colleagues who are pleased to have you alongside them in this profession of nursing. You are paired with an experienced nurse on the unit who answers your questions, assists with skills, and is a resource in times of distress.

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But as time goes on, your mentor increasingly avoids you, no longer answering questions, and you feel alone. Oftentimes, this is how students feel as they transition into clinicals for the first, or even second or third, time: a sense of being overwhelmed, confidence wavering if questions are rejected by their mentors. As an educator, creating an environment exuding "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience," as referenced in Colossians 3:12 (NIV), can positively impact nursing students' foundational confidence and sense of belonging.


Madison*, an undergraduate nursing student, was assigned to shadow me for a 12-hour shift. When Madison arrived, she quietly made notes on her patient assignment sheets in a corner of the nurses' station, not engaging with me or other staff. When she approached me for the first time, I happily greeted her and told her that I was excited for her to work alongside me. Madison smiled. She was still quiet and reserved, but I wanted to convey my enthusiasm in a gentle way, because I had been in her shoes not too long before. When I asked her if she wanted to come with me to do my assessments and watch me pass medications, she seemed surprised but quickly agreed. As the shift went on, I sought opportunities with other nurses for Madison to observe and learn.


Toward the end of her shift, Madison expressed how grateful she was that I had showed her kindness, including her as I cared for my patients. She said that her previous experiences were not all like that. One time, she said, the nurse she was assigned to had hurried through their assignment, focusing on the tasks at hand, not taking time to explain, show skills, or use opportunities for Madison's learning benefit.


As an educator, I know that, unfortunately, Madison's experience is not unique. I have witnessed many instances of this kind of nursing behavior. As a result, I promised myself that when I worked with students, I would take a different approach. I believe it's essential to display patience, including the student in the care process without hurrying through tasks. It matters that I show enthusiasm for these new members of our profession. I want to display kindness and gentleness and meet each student where he or she is, helping these future nurses to meet their goals. I want to demonstrate compassion and humility by seeking answers together and being mindful of how each student is feeling. In sum, I want to display a Colossians 3 mindset and hopefully influence those around me witnessing my interactions with students like Madison.


Between my first work experience, where I was a victim of lateral violence, and subsequent experiences, like interactions with students, I knew that pursuing my dream of being a nurse educator was a right fit. As an educator, being receptive and clothing oneself with qualities such as patience, kindness, and empathy benefits both the learner and the educator. Creating a desire for students to transform potentially volatile workplaces into Colossians 3 environments begins with an educator who places these values upon him or herself and encourages learners, through examples of these biblical behaviors, to lead the way.


As Christians, we are called to reflect Christ's love. As we encounter people from many walks of life and faiths, we must aim to be faithful followers of Christ. Exhibiting gentleness, patience, kindness, compassion, and humility to all, no matter their beliefs, is one way to follow Christ's guidance and represent the Christian faith. As an educator, through assisting students to develop confidence in their skills, as well as being a resource to others, more Colossians 3 environments can flourish. It is my goal to encourage educators, through both practice and actions, to build Colossians 3 environments that enhance our nursing profession.