Nursing Lecturer / PhD Candidate
My name is Gwen Erlam and I am a senior lecturer at AUT along with being the clinical simulation/skills development leader. I have come to this space in my professional life after a journey which started in 1977 when I entered a 4-year nursing programme at the University of Northern Colorado. In 1981 I graduated and began my clinical nursing career which spanned 20 years and was focused in intensive care and the cardiac catheterization lab. I also obtained a Master's in Education in the U.S.A. and thus developed a love for teaching. Upon moving to New Zealand in 1997, I was asked to teach at a polytechnic as the administration found I had had experiences which would be valuable to their students. Thus, I entered my now 15-year strong career in nursing education. It was at this point that I began my post-graduate study. I found that I wanted to hone my skills in online and distance education as many nurses could not leave their clinical jobs to study. Therefore, I enrolled in a Master's in Education (Distance and Online Education) and graduated in 2008.
Being a nursing educator requires a love of people, an ability to speak and teach to both small (30) and large (140) audiences in a manner which both entertains and engages the audience. It also requires an ability to see where the student learner is struggling, and come alongside with both encouragement and strategies which might give clarity and move the student forward. A person interested in nursing education will need to be a good listener, a good student advocate, and have an ability to communicate in a manner which is both informational and inspirational.
In 2011, I embarked on doctoral studies in the area of nursing education and simulated learning environments. I've come to this space in my journey as I've observed students over the past 15 years trying to be the best they can be! Simulation allows students the time/space to both practice and gain confidence in various clinical arenas. It also allows students (like pilots) who have other's lives in their hands to be confident they are practicing in the safest and most competent manner--even when things go wrong!