Kim Belcik (left) has completed the UEX Nursing Program.
Recent graduate Kim Belcik (left) of the UEX Nursing Program.

UEX Nursing Program helps Kim Belcik get ahead in her career and education

7/5/2010

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the U.S. is suffering a nursing shortage expected to intensify as our population ages. One of the chief contributors to this shortage is a lack of nursing faculty. According to the AACN, U.S. nursing schools turned away over 40,000 applicants in 2007-2008 due to a lack of instructors.

In effort to combat this instructor shortage, CIE’s University Extension (UEX) offers a program in partnership with the School of Nursing that encourages nursing professionals to return to graduate school to become nursing educators. The program trains nurses into becoming on-the-job instructors to other nurses or nurses-in-training.

Having worked as a nurse for eight years, Kim Belcik recently completed UEX’s Nursing Program. She offers her thoughts on the program and gives advice to other nurses considering the program.

Can you tell me something about your professional/educational background?
“Both my mother and grandmother had been nurses, so I decided to also pursue a career in nursing. I enrolled at the University of Mary Harden-Baylor in Belton, Texas and earned my undergraduate degree. After I graduated, I began working at the Seton Family of Hospitals as a Nurse’s Aide. I then became a Registered Nurse. I still work there as needed, but today I primarily work for the university’s School of Nursing as an assistant instructor. I am also completing my doctorate in nursing.”

Why did you become involved in the UEX Nursing Program?
“I was at a point in my career at Seton when I started thinking of what my next step should be. I had been interested in the nurse educator role, so I went to a mentor of mine to discuss it. He suggested I look for opportunities to practice being an instructor on the job. The next semester, the School of Nursing chose some nurses to take the UEX Nursing Program courses. This was my opportunity to become a nurse educator and I jumped on it. Once I enrolled with UEX, I became more familiar with Continuing & Innovative Education. I became a guest lecturer on the topic of medical and health-related groups in Second Life for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). I’ve been blown away by OLLI and its wonderful participants. It has been great to be exposed to other aspects of CIE through the Nursing Program.”

What lesson from this program has been especially valuable for you?
“I got a new perspective on how to prepare for instruction. For nursing, it’s a lot of “hands on” experience. So, [it was valuable] learning how to prepare a clinical site for students to make the connections from their lessons and use their time wisely in real life situations. I used the lessons from these classes immediately in my career.”

What would be your advice to anyone considering enrolling in this program?
"Be realistic about the time. You must have the time to read, research, test, and have online discussions with your cohort and instructors. If you are enrolling in the program while working, you need to have that discussion with your supervisor that this will be a time commitment for you. But it’s a time commitment that will ultimately help your department and give you the professional development you need.”

How did the UEX Nursing Program impact your career goals and your plans for your future?
“I continue to pursue career options as a nursing instructor. My CV shows that I’ve completed this prep work through the UEX Nursing Program and it may have put me ahead of other employment candidates. Also, as I earn my PhD in nursing, I feel that taking these courses has allowed me to learn the day-to-day role of a nursing educator while completing my doctoral research. It has been very beneficial to my education and career.”

 

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