Dorothea Daley, RN, a Vocational Nursing program instructor at our San Jose campus, is the deserving recipient of the 2012 Carrington College California ‘Commitment to Teaching Excellence’ award for Nursing.
Dorothea was born in Jamaica and has been a registered nurse for 42 years. She has been a nurse educator since 1990, and joined our Vocational Nursing faculty almost five years ago. Dorothea was nominated for this award by Frederick Holland, the Executive Director of our San Jose campus.
Frederick, why did you nominate Dorothea for this award?
“Ms. Daley exemplifies our TEACH values in her everyday commitment to student success; she provides her students with a learning experience that enriches and augments their other classes. As an experienced educator, Ms. Daley brings the same high level of quality education to any class she is asked to teach.
She stimulates her students’ desire to learn by encouraging them to challenge lecture material and defend their position with published literature. This empowers her students to take control of their own education, and helps develop the critical thinking skills needed to provide quality patient care.”
Congratulations Dorothea, how does it feel to be honored for your work?
“Let’s face it, it’s nice to be recognized! I’m happy with it; it’s a good thing. It validates that what I’m doing has been noticed. I know that everyone is not going to love me, but in terms of student satisfaction I would rate myself as a 9 out of 10. I’m grateful that the people I work with recognize what I do, as well as the students.”
You’ve been a nurse educator for 22 years, what made you first want to teach?
“I had been in clinical nursing for 20 years when I transitioned to education; I had the whole gamut of clinical experience. Nursing is a practice profession – it’s not theory in the air. I wanted to share my experience, and fill some of the holes that I had discovered in my own nursing school education. I decided that teaching was what I wanted to do for the rest of my active years!”
Did a particular teacher inspire you in your career?
“Back when I went to school it was a better time. Life was simple, people were kinder. Going from high school into nursing school, I discovered that my nursing instructors were very maternal, they took us under their wing and showed us the way. I can’t say that one stood out more than the others, it was a general theme. They were all very caring – it was like ‘no child left behind’ for real! That’s the kind of approach I’ve tried to take with my students.”
Was there a moment when you knew you’d made the right decision by going into teaching?
“To be quite honest, moving from the clinical setting into an educational setting comes with a natural drop in salary. There were times early on when I had to question my decision. But as I grew into the role I knew this was the career for me. I knew I could get another clinical job, and I knew I could get paid better, but I got more satisfaction out of teaching.
My first full-time faculty position was at a college in an impoverished part of Chicago, IL, in 1990. The things that I observed those students accomplish, even just to get to college, was very humbling. Some of them were living in the projects; most of them came from such poverty. I felt I was making a real difference in their lives; you can’t put a price on that. That’s when I knew I was doing the right thing.”
What’s your motivation every day Dorothea, what keeps you teaching?
“One advantage of teaching all these years is that you actually live to see your students become excellent practitioners. There was a time when a very close member of my family was ill and was in an Intensive Care Unit. Guess who was her nurse? One of my students! I could get home and have a nap, knowing that my family member was left in good hands. That was proof to me that what I’m doing is worth it. It’s not a dollar value, but very emotionally satisfying, and that’s what keeps me going.”
This award recognizes excellence; what makes an excellent instructor in your opinion?
“Teamwork. Nursing is all about teamwork, whether in a clinical setting or an educational setting. As an instructor, much of what I teach is theory so I have to work as a team with the clinical instructors out in the field to see how well the theory is put into practice by my students during their externships.
It’s also important to continually upgrade your skills; especially when keeping up with technology. By the time the book is printed, it’s often already out of date! So, continuous improvement is a very big part of it. The whole idea is to help students meet their goals, so we have to continually improve our skills to help them succeed.”
Do you have any particular ‘techniques’ to help you engage your students?
“A classroom is a learning environment for everyone, so it has to be interactive. To be interactive I use a lot of situations, simulations and case studies where students become the active participants. You know the whole thing about a ‘lecture’ is that most of it goes in one ear, and out of the other.
These are adult learners with other responsibilities; they have to be engaged so the material will stick. They don’t have time to go home and study for eight hours.”
When you get home at the end of the day, what constitutes a good day?
“A good day at work for me is when students are involved in their own learning process, when they’re passionate about what they are learning.”
With all your experience Dorothea, is it still exciting when your students graduate?
“When I was in the clinical setting, one of my areas of practice was a nurse midwife. Every time a new baby was born, it was a special experience – it never got old. I can say the same thing when my nursing students graduate. It’s like watching a new born all over again… each time.”
Congratulations again Dorothea, and thank you for your continued dedication. This “Commitment to Teaching Excellence” award recognizes your excellence as a nursing educator, both as an instructor and a colleague. Whether you’re mentoring new faculty, assisting a colleague in a difficult situation, or inspiring your students to succeed, your example motivates us all. Thank you for your continued commitment and enthusiasm.
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