Nightingale Challenge Nurse Educator Feature: Anna Choquette, MSN, RN, OCN
by Anna Choquette, MSN, RN, OCN, Nurse Educator, Watts College of Nursing | July 22, 2021
Throughout 2020―aptly named The Year of the Nurse―Kaplan was proud to participate in Nursing Now’s Nightingale Challenge with the aim of mentoring the next generation of nurse educators. We matched our Kaplan Educators with remarkable nurses from across the United States to provide leadership and development training in addition to monthly virtual meetings to discuss topics such as curriculum development, trends in teaching, the Next Generation NCLEX, overcoming professional challenges, and much more. Throughout this year, we are excited to share interviews with these Nightingale Challenge mentees. This month, we're pleased to introduce you to Anna Choquette, MSN, RN, OCN, Nursing Instructor, Watts College of Nursing.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I was born and raised in Boone, NC, then went to UNC Chapel Hill for undergrad. I studied Exercise and Sport Science because I wanted to do pediatric physical therapy; however, I switched to nursing once I got some experience with PT and realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I graduated early with my BA in Exercise Science in Dec 2009, then returned to UNC-CH for my BSN in May 2010. I graduated in May 2012 and went to work in pediatric oncology, then moved to outpatient adult oncology a few years later. I went back for my Masters in Nursing Education and graduated in 2018 from UNC Charlotte. I live in Wake Forest, NC, and I currently work as a nursing instructor for 1st level BSN students; I teach in the classroom, lab and clinical.
What is your particular area of expertise?
I’m an expert in Oncology (specifically chemo infusion), patient education, and communication skills. I’m also passionate about reading and completing full crosswords in under 12 minutes.
Who or what experience inspired you to become a nurse?
I’ve always been interested in healthcare. When I was a junior in college, after traveling to Ecuador, I became very ill and spent about 2 weeks in and out of doctors’ offices trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I was finally diagnosed with typhus (a rare neurological issue not commonly seen in the US). The nurses who took care of me were phenomenal and that’s when I realized I wanted to do the same for others.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR
Why did you decide to pursue a career as a nurse educator?
I love to teach and always have. In former positions, I always took on the role of patient and staff educator because I was passionate about giving people resources to take care of themselves, and education provides a great means to do that.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
I love seeing the “lightbulb” go off in someone’s eyes when they finally get something or connect a concept to what they’ve seen in practice/life. It’s so rewarding to see their confidence grow.
In your opinion, why is it important to teach students to “think like a nurse?”
I think it’s important for students to know HOW to do something, but if they don’t understand WHY they are doing it or WHY it’s important, then they can’t adjust as well if the HOW changes. Understanding concepts about how the body works and knowing cause and effect really allows students to be flexible and knowledgeable when a patient situation changes, or when they have to get creative. I also teach them to always anticipate what a patient might need, or how a patient situation could change―that way, they aren’t caught unaware but can maybe resolve something before it starts.
How can nurse educators best prepare students for the realities and rigors of nursing?
Clinical experience is a big part of this―how can you know what it’s like to be a nurse without having hands-on experience? I think continually having open discussion about the reality of nursing, sharing personal experiences with them, and not shying away from challenging patients all can contribute greatly.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing nurse educators today?
In today’s environment of online learning, student engagement is a huge challenge. In a physical classroom, you can have activities where the students move around and interact, but online, it’s very difficult to incorporate those same activities to keep students engaged. Students also face challenges at home, with kids or partners at home too, and so their focus/engagement is strained and seeps into class time.
THE NIGHTINGALE CHALLENGE
Tell us about your experience during the Nightingale Challenge with Kaplan.
What a great experience! I’ve really learned a lot this year, all of the readings and webinars have been so helpful in shaping me as a nurse educator!
What was the best part of working with your Kaplan Nursing Mentor?
My mentor is Dawn Oakley (now Whitfield), and she is AMAZING! So helpful and encouraging, provided so many great resources and was a wonderful listener to my struggles over this past year. Truly appreciative for her guidance and support!
Which Nightingale Challenge Meeting resonated most deeply with you and why?
I particularly enjoyed the meeting about conceptual learning―my curriculum is conceptually based, and that’s how I learn, so it was helpful to feel confirmed and supported in my learning and teaching experiences.
What is the most important thing that you learned from this experience about being a successful and impactful nurse educator?
Time management and saying no―prioritizing what you need to do now and what can wait, and knowing how and when to say no to taking on more responsibilities. Stand up for yourself to protect your mental health.
What was the most important takeaway for you from 2020: Year of the Nurse and Midwife?
Having a mentor is such a wonderful and essential part of nursing, and being a mentor is a great experience as well.
What was the most important piece of advice you received from your Kaplan Nursing Mentor?
Renew and refresh yourself so you can give back to others―as a new educator, you can feel obligated to say yes to everything people ask of you. It’s ok to say no or not right now so you can say yes later.
How can nurse educators best prepare students for the NCLEX?
Start early! As a first semester instructor day one we begin discussing NCLEX style questions, how to break them down, and how to be successful on “the big one.”
Is there a quote or saying that you live by―especially when it comes to nursing?
“How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”
– Florence Nightingale
Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and do things you haven’t done before, and don’t be afraid of change.
What will the COVID-19 pandemic change about the way we prepare nursing students for their careers?
I definitely think times are changing and nursing education will forever be affected. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad―online learning has opened up possibilities for smaller schools to provide quality distance education. However, I think that students today are challenged with many personal distractions that can impact their success in school―something educators MUST consider when planning classes and maximizing impact on student success.
And finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
I love being a nurse―I continue to grow every day and hope to have more experiences like this one in the future! I hope to share that passion with others.
I was born and raised in Boone, NC, then went to UNC Chapel Hill for undergrad. I studied Exercise and Sport Science because I wanted to do pediatric physical therapy; however, I switched to nursing once I got some experience with PT and realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I graduated early with my BA in Exercise Science in Dec 2009, then returned to UNC-CH for my BSN in May 2010. I graduated in May 2012 and went to work in pediatric oncology, then moved to outpatient adult oncology a few years later. I went back for my Masters in Nursing Education and graduated in 2018 from UNC Charlotte. I live in Wake Forest, NC, and I currently work as a nursing instructor for 1st level BSN students; I teach in the classroom, lab and clinical.