Prior to becoming a Global Health Service Partnership Volunteer in 2014, Megan Coe did not have any experience as a nurse educator. So naturally, she learned a lot in her first year as a faculty member at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) in Lilongwe, Malawi. And it was the lessons she learned that first year that inspired her to extend her service for a second.
“That had been my first year teaching,” she explained. “I felt that staying a second year, doing another round of of classes, I could improve what I had learned in teaching and keep moving forward.”
Now, she will continue to use the knowledge she has gained in the last two years to further her service for a third year. “The more you understand and learn about the context, the more you have to offer,” says Coe.
Using what she has learned in the last two years as visiting faculty, she is exploring new ways to support nursing education on the other side of the academic-clinical partnership, namely at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) where she has provided clinical instruction to students on the pediatric ward. Coe, in collaboration with KCH nursing and hospital leadership, is exploring an opportunity to support the hospital’s commitment to the pursuit of quality and excellence in patient care within a unique role that encompasses patient care, student precepting, consultation, staff nurse education, and leading evidenced based projects.
“One of the things I have learned in the past two years, is there are so many students and they are learning most of what they learn on the wards, when they are in practice. They are being shaped as nurses by what they see on the wards,” says Coe. But she notes that many of the nurses who work as clinical preceptors are not getting the support and education they need to be able to provide quality student precepting.
In her new role, she hopes that she will be able to support this essential component of the academic – clinical partnership, “I am looking forward to the new position and having some impact on improving the hospital setting, which would then improve both what the students are learning and patient care.”
Even with this new role, Coe is looking forward to continuing the work she enjoys most: teaching young nursing students. “I really enjoy working one on one with the students… and encouraging them.”
As a GHSP Nurse Educator, she especially likes teaching her students concepts not traditionally taught in Malawi and watching them utilize them in practice. Recently, Coe encouraged her students to assess a patient’s pain using a scale, “After encouraging students to use this scale with a patient in the ICU after surgery, they were able to relieve the patient’s pain, and the students commented on how using the scale really helped.”
As she moves into her third year at KCN, Coe hopes she can continue to share what she values as a nurse and an educator with her students. “I think through teaching you gain a whole new perspective,” she says, reflecting on her two years in Malawi. “I realized what I valued in myself as a nurse, which is caring and compassion. In my head, my job is to know my patients so well that I will notice when things change and they need something different, because there has been a change either in their physical condition specifically, or in how they are dealing with it, or their emotions or anything. That is something that I really try to work on with my students, and show them the value of.”