Teaching and nursing are careers in which ongoing professional development is critical. When you graduate from an undergraduate program with a degree that is really just the start of your journey. You graduate as a generalist with some basic knowledge of nursing and the skills to learn more.

The teaching and learning course I am facilitating has been an overall success. Students have exceeded my expectations in so many ways. As it soon draws to a close, I deeply hope that they have been inspired by their time in this course to keep learning how to better educate their clients in a variety of settings. I hope that their time in the course was meaningful and memorable.

Today I am at a conference (If you follow me on Twitter or my blog you may notice a spike in online activity today). Getting away, even for just two days, in the middle of November is quite the challenge for busy faculty. Why do we do it? Because we know how important ongoing professional development is. I hope my students notice the impact of taking time to improve my teaching skills on my ability to facilitate their learning.

I think it is important to purposely set aside time for professional development. Otherwise, it is easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks of your job and grow stagnant. Professional development can take many forms – conferences, reading, research, online courses, podcasts, videos, and so many more. What is important is that you maintain a critical and evidence-informed view of your work. Hopefully, my students develop a strategy for ongoing professional development that is tailored to their interests.


Building relationships is also important. That is what I hope to do at conferences – build a community of inquiry. Networking is the most important and fun thing that I get to do when I attend conferences like TESS and CNIE. How can we continue meaningful relationships beyond conference interactions? Twitter has been an effective tool, but I would like to see more opportunities for live discussions, hangouts, phone calls, and collaborative projects. Maybe I will find some at TESS.

Just a few days ago I was interviewing a current PhD student about her PhD experience in an effort to determine a strategy for my own PhD. She had excellent advice about the importance of building a relationship with your faculty and committee. Also, she advised me that the supervisor I work with is more important than the school I attend. It is so true. Relationships with people are what truly make a difference. I hope that my students and I continue to support each other throughout the rest of our careers. Although I may never teach this group again, maintaining a relationship with them opens up possibilities for the future.

What feels like the end is often the beginning.
What feels like the end is often the beginning.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.


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