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Exploring Nurses as Educators with Monique Harding

May 26, 2024

Essential to the future of nursing by being the scaffolds of nursing education, healthcare professionals teaching the next generation of nurses are navigating a field that's obviously high-demand and popular. Nurses as educators are responsible in training the future nursing workforce through quality nurse education and the promotion of their professional development. After all, new nurses are expected to give the highest level possible of patient care in the healthcare setting as trusted health professionals.

In this article, we'll discuss the key points of the enlightening discussion with Monique Harding—an exceptional nurse whose career evolution from mental health RN to nurse educator serves as a testament to the endless possibilities within the nursing profession.

Getting to Know Monique Harding

Monique Harding has been a nurse for 17 years now, doing her undergraduate degree at York University in Toronto, finishing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She then completed her Master of Nursing at Western University in London, Ontario. Monique Harding has worked extensively in the mental health field right from the get-go. Having a number of different positions, Monique started at the emergency department in clinical practice, then worked in the community with the police clinical investigator, and has since settled in London as a nurse educator for their mental health program, teaching student nurses and contributing to education programs in the institution.

What Inspired Monique to Become an RN?

Monique shared that her mother was an RPN. She was also a nurse and worked in palliative care towards the end of high school. At that point, Monique had no idea what I wanted to do. In this moment of doubt and being clueless on where to go, she said that her mother suggested nursing to her, a broad field where one can do so much and work anywhere she wants in the world. To quote Monique's mother, "Why don't you try until you figure out what you want to do?"

Fast forward 20 years later, Monique is still in the field, thriving and even more involved as a collaborator helping learners to finish their BSN—be it in the clinical setting or anywhere else.

Monique Harding's Extensive Experience in Nursing

Monique shared that she went into a three-month internship called the New Grad Initiative when she was starting out as a nurse. Monique received an email inviting her to come and work in a downtown emergency department. There, she was trained to become a psychiatric emergency nurse, so she dedicated time to learn the ins and outs of this role, which she spent more time on, lasting up to 6 years. There, she witnessed many events and situations working in the emergency department.

Some of the issues she and her team dealt with included serious and persistent mental health issues, addiction, homelessness, social isolation, and a lack of resources. She also shares that nurses like herself were usually scrambling to devise a plan for people showing up at their doorstep asking for help.

Monique then moved over to their mobile crisis intervention team, where they paired a mental health nurse with a member from the Toronto Police Service. Monique would patrol with them and answer calls for what they called emotionally disturbed persons or EDPs, with Monique doing on-the-spot risk assessments.

A nurse providing care to a patient experiencing mental health issues.

In the middle of their crisis, some people were actively harming themselves, so Monique had to be alert, active, and ready for patient outcomes. Having been to jumper calls, Monique shares experiences of comforting families and comparing that to a "big adrenaline rush going lights and sirens to the call". And as the police looks to her as the expert, Monique honed her assessment skills in critical thinking, trusting her own judgment in difficult moments.

However, realizing there was a shelf life to crisis work, Monique decided to try something different after going at ten for a few years. Later on, she had the opportunity to work for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario as a clinical investigator. Monique went on to address complaints about doctors or surgeons in Ontario, Canada, listening thoroughly to what the issue was, putting it in writing, going through medical records, and interviewing the complainants, the physicians, and sometimes their legal representatives.

Typically, it was communication issues that was in the way between the clients and their proper management or treatment.  Thankfully, Monique had a background in mental health—she knew the illnesses, learned how to sometimes be in crisis, worked over the phone, dealt with some of the complaints, and addressed concerns from correctional facilities.

How Monique's Experience in Emergencies and Mental Health Influenced Dealing with Stress and Burnout

Monique shared the importance of having an outlet—she learned that people can't continue to "bottle it up" or "keep it in". On the health clinician end, as she says, people would come in because they had no one to turn to. Monique emphasized the importance of having conversation, and observing that people's shoulders relaxed as a physical manifestation of how getting it out there was helpful to them.

She also highlighted the importance of finding different outlets outside of work to de-stress, which are important ways to make sure that you cope with your stress positively instead of finding maladaptive ways to cope. For example, for Monique, her go-to's are Zumba and yoga.

What She Did as a Nurse Educator

As an educator, Monique oversees onboarding and education for new nursing graduates who come into their program internal transfers, sometimes people who have no mental health experience at all. Monique helps establish that baseline of what they can work with, which is done mainly through orientation, going through the different mental health diagnoses and different concepts like therapeutic relationships and communication, the recovery model, the Mental Health Act, and the legislation that guides what they do. Monique shares that her team lays the foundation for both their new and existing staff—that education might come in the form of services or helping more with some clinical skills.

Monique's Favourite Part of Her Job

Monique shares that she fully supports all the new staff who come into the program. She adds that she is their "go-to person" if they needed help or an extra boost of confidence. Monique loves orientation because she likes seeing when people are excited to enter a new role, such as those having some experience working with mental health clients.

Advice for Nursing Students In Choosing Their Nursing Specialization

Monique Harding's advise to nursing students struggling to choose what to specialize in.

Monique's first piece of advice for students struggling to choose what to specialize in is to not let someone else dictate your journey. She details how everyone told her to work in certain fields to keep her skills, but she claims that she wasn't wearing scrubs to go to work; instead, she was wearing a bulletproof vest. At the beginning of her nursing career as an undergrad, she didn't know that certain jobs like the one she has now existed. She then shares that she went to apply to work in the psychiatric emergency team, and observed nursing just continuing to grow. Monique then adds that if you find the area of nursing you like, you can really carve out a niche for yourself.

What Keeps Monique Passionate About Nursing

Monique says that what keeps her going in nursing, although it might sound cliche for most nurses, is that she loves to help people. For her, things shouldn't be made difficult, and that the culture of nurses "eating their yuck", while it wasn't what her experience when she started, should never be experienced by someone new to the field—nobody should feel that way.

Monique believes that keeping yourself passionate about what you do is infectious and will rub to other people, so they'll feel the same way about what they do as well, and will "snowball" and "keep the momentum going" for all the future nurses coming up.

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About The Author
Kate Piamonte
Content Writer

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