Building Trust: A Nurse Educator's Perspective
Trust—it is a powerful notion that enhances every facet of our lives—personally, academically, and professionally. Caroline Bollettiero, Lab Coordinator for the Endicott College School of Nursing, believes—whether as an educator, while practicing in the field, or as a student preparing for a future career—creating an environment of trust is essential to success. Bollettiero has 20 years of nursing experience, has been teaching at Endicott for five years, and leads the School of Nursing’s Honor Society. She is an active nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and works there two and half days a week. In addition to each of these pursuits, she is obtaining her Ph.D. in Nursing through Endicott.
Bollettiero explains that she and her fellow nursing educators, “begin to build trust with our students from day one, we have a mutual respect, and it hasn’t weakened throughout this situation.” The ‘situation’ of course being the spread of COVID-19—and the herculean effort of moving all courses online. The nursing team has been innovative in the ways they teach, communicate, and provide exams, endeavoring to mimic the hands-on experience that our students would usually receive on campus or in the field. She reflects on making these course adjustments as a “huge team effort, we have such a great team” and she also notes that our students “are amazingly resilient.”
She explains, “our students have a lot of trust in us, especially our seniors, they are entering a monumental epidemic—it’s not normal for a graduate to enter into a clinical field and deal with a pandemic.” For this reason, our nursing faculty and staff have developed videos to simulate situations that our students might encounter during their clinical training hours. They’ve also invested in new software to replicate the testing environments students will encounter at their board exams. Furthermore, students are filmed while taking tests “to maintain integrity and rigor, while also providing educators the opportunity to provide students with essential feedback—really, it’s to help our students become better nurses.”
Bollettiero with one of her nursing colleagues.Students learn that trust is essential to their future careers as nurses, Bollettiero tells her students, that “A patient won’t trust you if you aren’t caring for them with your whole heart. Sit down with your patient for five minutes and ask them about their life—nothing about what brought them to the hospital—they’ll be more willing to trust you, and they’ll give you more of an opportunity to care for them.” Imperative to building trust, is following up, and following through. “If you tell your patient that you’re going to do something, do it. Following through allows a patient to feel as though they have some control in a situation where they have very little.”
Following up supports healthy professional relationships as well—open lines of communication, providing accurate reports, revisiting a previous conversation in writing, being honest and willing to receive guidance—all contribute to a trusting environment. Creating a positive atmosphere with one’s nursing colleagues—especially during this pandemic, which she describes as “very humbling”—is paramount. She wants nurses to band together, to provide each other with support, and to create a community, while remembering that the patient is the primary focus. She continues on to say that nursing is about “getting emotional, it’s about getting raw and asking yourself, what else can I do for my patient?”
Overall, she recognizes that “Our students are gaining more perspective from this situation. We know that it’s hard not to be on campus, but this will make them stronger, and they will come out of this with a job, and not everyone can say that.” Bollettiero has always brought her field experience into the classroom and now she is able to pull insights from her Ph.D. program. “I’m learning so much, it’s opened up my eyes to the hospital perspective, and it’s made me a better nurse and educator.”
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