Nightingale Challenge Nurse Educator Feature: Megan Lynch RN, MSN, CWON
by Megan Lynch RN, MSN, CWON, Nursing Faculty, Pima Community College | January 20, 2021
Throughout 2020―aptly named The Year of the Nurse―Kaplan was proud to participate in Nursing Now’s Nightingale Challenge with the aim of mentoring the next generation of nurse educators. We matched our Kaplan Educators with remarkable nurses from across the United States to provide leadership and development training in addition to monthly virtual meetings to discuss topics such as curriculum development, trends in teaching, the Next Generation NCLEX, overcoming professional challenges, and much more. Throughout this year, we are excited to share interviews with these Nightingale Challenge mentees. This month, we're pleased to introduce you to Megan Lynch RN, MSN, CWON, Nursing Faculty, Pima Community College.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I am a Vermont native who experienced the ultimate climate change in 2017 when I moved to Tucson, AZ to pursue a career in academia. Since starting my career, I have taught all levels of nursing from Practical nurse to ADN, to BSN, and MEPN. I have been a bedside nurse for the past 10 years, working primarily on adult Medical/Surgical units and have a specialty license in wound care.
What is your particular area of expertise?
Wound and Ostomy care, Rehabilitation nursing, creating engaging and creative content, and kickball!
Who or what experience inspired you to become a nurse?
I fell into nursing after an advising session with one of my college professors. Initially, I thought I wanted to work in a lab, but I found out that I enjoy personal interaction and talking way too much to be successful in that space.
I started my career as a nurse’s assistant in a nursing home and fell in love with the profession after my first week on the job. I loved the personal interactions I was able to have with the residents, and that I could be part of their life story. I loved knowing I could brighten someone’s day with a milkshake, and which residents had to be in full makeup to make it to weekly Bingo. Since then I have met many inspirational nurses, physicians, and patients that continue to push me forward in my career.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR
Why did you decide to pursue a career as a nurse educator?
After obtaining my Master’s degree I consulted a trusted Physician mentor. He had me make a list of duties I enjoyed most about my current job. On that list was mentoring new nurses, and taking students. That led me to a nationwide search, and I was fortunate to have a college take a chance on me as an educator.
How has your unique background prepared you for success in your field?
I believe working my way up the nursing ladder has been the biggest assets to my success. It is hard to be respected when you haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes. Starting as a nurse’s assistant made me fully respect the hard work they put in every single day, and how much of a role they play in the quality of care received.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
The best part about my job is being able to walk with someone on their worst days. It is a privilege to meet someone for 12 hours and partner with them as they go through some of life’s hardest challenges. My goal every shift is to make some aspect of their day easier. It might be simple like getting them the name brand soda, or more complex like honestly discussing their choices for care moving forward.
As an educator my biggest reward is seeing my students become my colleagues. I get such great joy from picking up the phone to give a report and hearing a familiar name or voice. Knowing I have been a small part in setting someone else up for a lifelong career is something I take great pride in.
Did you have a particularly inspiring nurse educator when you were in school?
Mrs. Jacobs was/is a brilliant nurse educator. She was my professor, but also led me in a nursing externship. What stood out about her was that she took the time to know me as a person. She always made me feel safe to ask questions, and had the perfect balance of professional and compassion.
How can nurse educators best prepare students for the realities and rigors of nursing?
I think it’s important for nurse educators to stay current. Students listen more and have more buy in if you tell them real life stories. It’s a fine balance to not scare them out of the profession, but to not sugar coat the realities of the job.
THE NIGHTINGALE CHALLENGE
Tell us about your experience during the Nightingale Challenge with Kaplan.
This was the confidence boost I needed as a younger educator. It was so refreshing to hear new ideas, and see others like myself.
What was the best part of working with your Kaplan Nursing Mentor?
Meeting monthly with Tonya Taylor, MSN, RN, MBA, was a light in 2020. She was my own personal cheerleader, and gave me unconditional positive regard. Her bright spirit, depth of knowledge, and professional guidance have been something I have been so desperate for. I wish for every educator to have a Tonya in their life!
Which Nightingale Challenge Meeting resonated most deeply with you and why?
I enjoyed learning about the next gen NCLEX. I struggle with question writing and this gave me some great ideas of how to start elevating my thought process.
What is the most important thing that you learned from this experience about being a successful and impactful nurse educator?
Having a personal mentor who supports you and knows you has made such an impact on me. I hope I can now be that for my students.
What was the most important takeaway for you from 2020: Year of the Nurse and Midwife?
There is always more to learn!
What was the most important piece of advice you received from your Kaplan Nursing Mentor?
As I was struggling with teaching a brand new class Tonya told me “Megan you are already a nurse, you know this content, you might need a quick refresh but you can teach anything”. Exactly the advice and confidence boost I needed!
How can nurse educators best prepare students for the NCLEX?
Start early! As a first semester instructor day one we begin discussing NCLEX style questions, how to break them down, and how to be successful on “the big one.”
Is there a quote or saying that you live by―especially when it comes to nursing?
You can do anything for 12 hours, and, when in doubt carry a clipboard and act like you belong!
What will the COVID-19 pandemic change about the way we prepare nursing students for their careers?
COVID-19 has forced us to embrace technology, something most of our students are hungry for. This allows us to reach students in new ways, and forces us to get out of the old ways of doing things.
And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
If you are an educator and wondering if programs like the Nightingale Challenge are worth your time, 100% yes. Do yourself a favor, take the chance, and I promise it will be worth it.
Also, nurses, you are amazing!