Updated: Mar 6, 2022
I am Kathleen, I am a senior lecturer and a pathway leader for the Neonatal Modules at Kingston and St. George's University London joint faculty.
Before landing to my current role, I did a number of clinical and academe roles.
My first clinical job was in a Neonatal Unit in Birmingham. I then moved to London in 2011 to work as a Band 6 Specialist Staff Nurse in a Surgical Neonatal ICU. Whilst working for the trust, I also worked as one of their unit clinical educators. I was then seconded to do a project for Health Education England Northwest London to be one of the Band 7 Nurse Facilitators, that trained nurses in 6 NICUs within Northwest London. After this role, I became a lecturer for Children's Nursing at the University of West London, teaching on their pre-registration nursing programme.
Education has also been a big part of my career. I gained my Nursing degree in the University of Santo Tomas and worked as a nurse back in the Philippines. By 2005, I moved to the UK.
After years of working and studying, I graduated with a Graduate Certificate in Neonatal High Dependency and Intensive Care and gained a specialisation in Neonatal Surgical Nursing. I completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Clinical Education, where I gained my NMC teacher status as well as Fellowship in Higher Education. I also have just recently completed my MSc in Advanced Practice with Healthcare Education.
Why this role
Since I qualified in the Philippines, I have always been interested in teaching and dreamt of teaching for the university I graduated from. This passion continued here in the UK as I found working and mentoring students rewarding. When the opportunity came up, I became a Practice Development Nurse in our unit. This is where I was involved in training new staff as well as supporting the nurses specialising in Neonatal Nursing in practice. This opened the doors for me to be a guest lecturer in one of the London Universities that teaches on the Neonatal Pathway. This opportunity has reignited my passion and interest in teaching in the classroom setting.
My Role as a Senior Lecturer
As a senior lecturer, I am involved with planning and delivery of lectures and trainings for pre-registration nursing students as well as post-graduate students.
I currently teach and lead on the Neonatal Pathway. Under this pathway, there are four workforce development modules that qualified nurses working in neonatal units undertake to gain specialisation in neonatal nursing. Apart from the teaching and pastoral care, I am also a module leader, who is involved in attending boards and marking assessments.
Another aspect of my current role is to support the pre-registration Children's Nursing team by teaching on skills / simulation sessions. I am also the link lecturer that looks after pre-registration children's nursing in practice.
In 2016, I was seconded by Health Education England Northwest London (HEE NWL) to be one of the facilitators that rotated in six Neonatal Unit to train and support newly qualified and new to speciality nurses. Whilst on the role, I have gone back to the university to gain the qualifications that I need to teach here in the UK.
After the conclusion of the HEE NWL project in 2017, I felt it was time to venture to something different. I then applied as a lecturer for Children's Nursing and got the job. This role has helped me to adapt and have a good grounding on the educational standards as well as culture in the UK. Few years down the line, I found an opportunity to teach on my area of expertise, I applied for the position of Senior Lecturer, wherein I have taken on the role of Pathway Leader for Neonatal Studies.
Skills needed to become a senior lecturer
My previous experiences as a specialist staff nurse and a clinical teacher have really helped when I came into academia. The transferable skills I have acquired through my various roles have enabled me to be adaptable, flexible, as well as empathetic especially when dealing with student issues and concerns. In this role, the ability to listen and show compassion became advantageous too.
Undertaking the PGCert in Clinical Education has enhanced my knowledge and skills in the learning pedagogy, which helped me understand the role of a teacher in both clinical and higher education practice. I have learned innovative ways of learning and teaching that I have managed to utilise when I started teaching in university.
Having experience in presenting is important too but it is something you will continue to develop and learn within the role. Good leadership, time management and organisational skills are also key in undertaking this role.
Furthermore, the pin is essential to do this job as I teach people wanting to come to the profession as well as nurses who are specialising in their field. I also try to keep myself clinically updated by doing some ad Hoc clinical shifts in my spare time. I still believe that experience is a good teacher, hence, doing clinical shifts is an important aspect of teaching.
Advise to other nurses who want to go into the same expertise and become a lecturer.
If there is one thing I have learned from my journey— your dreams will always find a way back to you. When I came to the UK, I thought I would have to let go of my dream of becoming a lecturer/teacher. However, with hard work, perseverance and by going out of my comfort zone, I got to where I have always wanted to be.
One of my previous managers said to me during my exit interview is that "you won't be able to tell how good you are as a nurse, unless you try and work in different places or environments". Throughout the years, this is something that I have proven. So, I always tell my students to go out of their comfort zones. It is only when you conquer your fear of the unknown, that you will find yourself and become the person you aim to be. Explore, be curious, continue learning and don't be complacent. This will lead you to reach your full potential and find your career fulfilment.
To those who want to venture into teaching, whether clinical or in academia, try and seek the opportunities and once you find it, grab it. Get as much experience as you can to build your knowledge and skills as these are essential in gaining expertise in your field. If this is something that is interest to any of you, I am happy to be contacted for a chat. You can get in touch with me through my Twitter account: @kathmanRN