Neuroscience and rehabilitation. To many, these fields seem complicated or confusing. To Savannah Courtright, they were intriguing.
She was working as a nurse in the Providence Alaska Medical Center, when she began to see the huge potential for learning in these fields. Savannah knew her medical center and her community could greatly benefit from additional knowledge and understanding in these fields.
But there was a problem. Her unit hadn’t had a designated nurse educator in over 2 years. Without a nurse educator, there was no one to get the training and knowledge, and then bring it back to the facility.
Savannah knew she had to do something.
She started by petitioning her management team to create the educator position, which they agreed to.
But she didn’t stop there.
Savannah went on to interview for that position, was offered the job, and accepted it.
“Since that time, I have come to realize that educators have the most to learn,” Savannah admits. “We are expected to be expert in our clinical fields, experts in adult learning techniques, experts in process improvement, experts in data collection and quality improvement, experts in everything!” She adds.
Savannah worked as the nurse educator for 6 years, then she decided it was time to get some additional schooling.
“I realized that clinical education is a dedicated profession and that if I were to be serious about developing my role and in developing the nurses that I work with, I would need to become serious about my professionalism as an educator,” she says.
Savannah decided to pursue her education at WGU, where she could have the flexibility to go to school, continue working full-time, and keep her responsibilities as a mom.
The 2018 Belinda Puetz scholarship further propelled Savannah, giving her more financial freedom as she worked toward her degree.
Belinda E. Puetz, PhD, is the founder of the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD). Throughout her career Dr. Puetz has founded three nursing journals and edited five, written six books, and received an AJN Book of the Year award.
In honor of Belinda E. Puetz, a remarkable leader in nursing professional development, WGU and the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD) offer an exclusive, full-tuition scholarship opportunity to one exceptional nurse educator.
Savannah is set to graduate in 2020, but her schooling is proving beneficial right now.
“Even without degree in hand, I am taking what I learn and applying it to my current role,” she says. Savannah currently has a cohort of clinical educators in surgery units, critical care units, maternity units, and perioperative services. Her positive experience with schooling has led her to encourage them to pursue their degrees as well.
Savannah knows that her degree will have a direct impact on her life, and the lives of the nurses that she manages.
“Pursuing this degree will help me to better prepare for the upcoming generations of nursing,” she says. “The field is ever-changing, but so are the newly graduated nurses. They have different ways of accessing information and expect to have up-to-date information at the tip of their fingers – as they should! Hospitals have not done a great job of keeping up with technology to further education and to keep up with evidence-based practice. I hope to help bridge that gap by gaining knowledge from our current and future nurses about how they would best receive information and education, then follow up by meeting those expectations,” she finishes.
Savannah’s degree is changing her life and career right now, but will also have huge impacts on her future.
She says she sees two paths in front of her: continuing to move up the ladder with clinical nursing education, or moving over to the academic side of nursing education. Either way, she knows that helping prepare nurses for their roles in hospitals is critical to an empowered workforce.
Empowering nurses at any place in their training will result in positive outcomes for hospitals, clinics, and patients.
So what is Savannah’s overall goal with her career and degree? It’s simple.
“To improve patient outcomes and overall quality of the care that we provide.”