Greenawald: Commitment to lifelong learning vital to the nursing profession
Every turn, stop and acceleration during the journey toward a nursing career offers a learning experience. What’s discovered in one phase can help in the next, according to Dr. Deborah Greenawald, PhD, RN, CNE, Associate Professor of Nursing.
“Nursing is characterized by lifelong learning,” she states. “It’s not ‘optional’ for those in our profession, because health care is always changing and we have an ethical responsibility to keep up with those changes in order to deliver safe client care.”
Greenawald, who received her PhD and MSN degrees in Nursing from Widener University, began teaching at Alvernia in 2004 after a decade as a certified school nurse in a junior-senior high school. Prior to that, she worked in outpatient behavioral health, a community-based prenatal and parenting program and inpatient women’s health. She entered nursing as a second career after seven years as a vocalist with the United States Navy Band (Washington, D.C.); in addition to her nursing education, she also has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education/Vocal Performance.
Greenawald’s own career transitions not only give her a unique perspective on nursing, but an understanding of what many nursing students face.
“Our students are increasingly diverse because they include career changers,” she says. “As educators, we are challenged to relate to all different types of student needs. I’m happy to say we do that well at Alvernia mainly because of the school’s size, as well as a great faculty who also have diverse backgrounds.”
Getting to know students in and out of the classroom has been one of the highlights of Greenawald’s teaching career. “I like the size of our university because it really allows faculty, staff, students and alumni to develop relationships over time.”
In the classroom, nursing students are exposed to current issues and evidence-based research as faculty members integrate journal articles and information from professional practice into the learning goals for each course, Greenawald shares. Moreover, it’s the broader learning experience as an Alvernia student that also carries individuals through the challenges of a nursing degree program.
“At Alvernia, our students have liberal arts and general education courses woven throughout their experience, and these courses also help them develop critical thinking skills about complex contemporary challenges, related to not only professional nursing and health care but even broader issues in our world,” she says.
Students also have hundreds of hours of clinical nursing education as a part of the pre-licensure BSN curriculum. Through their clinical education, they have many opportunities to experience real-world challenges inherent in the many aspects of the RN role, Greenawald adds.
As students follow their educational, professional and personal pursuits, they should take it all in and, importantly, enjoy the ride.
“No learning is wasted! Every course you take and every experience you have on your academic and life journey helps inform your understanding of yourself and of the world,” Greenawald offers to students. “I encourage students to take time to reflect on how the various pieces of their education and their lives are fitting together in meaningful ways.”