Nightingale Challenge Nurse Educator Feature: Ashley Scism, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC

by Ashley Scism, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC | April 1, 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 Ashley Scism, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Belmont University.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

My name is Ashley Scism and I am an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. I accepted a full-time nurse educator position at Belmont in August 2018. I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in partnership with Belmont University for both my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (2012) and Doctorate of Nursing Practice (2017) degree. My practice experience includes medical/surgical nursing and women’s health (obstetrics, urology, and gynecology).

As a Family Nurse Practitioner, I managed patients primarily with endocrine disorders including type 1 or type 2 diabetes, including adjusting and interpreting insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems. In addition to practice, I thoroughly enjoy conducting and/or participating in research. While working as a nurse practitioner, I had an amazing opportunity to practice as a sub-investigator for two prominent clinical trials regarding new antidiabetic medications. I was born and raised in Nashville, TN. When I have time outside of teaching, I enjoy playing golf with my husband. We were both student-athletes in college on golf scholarship and we still enjoy playing the game!

What is your particular area of expertise?

I’m an expert on chronic disease management, endocrinology (diabetes mellitus) disorders, experiential learning simulation, and playing golf.

Who or what experience inspired you to become a nurse?

My inspiration for pursuing a career as a nurse began with an experience at a young age. At the time of my tenth birthday, my grandmother was admitted into the hospital and facing a terminal illness that was rapidly progressing. We slept overnight in the ICU waiting room waiting on her passing, which is the worst experience for any 10-year-old on their birthday. The nurse caring for my grandmother learned that it was my birthday and bought a small cupcake, birthday beanie baby, and balloon in order to salvage some celebration activities. It was the same nurse that held my hand and took me back to say good-bye to my grandmother for the last time later that day. The way she comforted me while providing end-of-life care to my grandmother was a feeling that I will never forget. From that day forward, I always wanted to care for others the way she cared for me and my family. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A NURSE EDUCATOR

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a nurse educator? 

As a floor nurse, I always enjoyed precepting either undergraduate nursing students that were attending clinical or novice new graduate nurses that were transitioning into practice. Overall, I enjoyed their eagerness to learn, the process of sharing knowledge, and then witnessing the growth in their confidence, skills, and critical thinking by the end of the rotation. I knew that nursing education was my calling when I experienced more fulfillment during shifts where I was responsible for precepting a student nurse.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?      

The most rewarding aspect of working in nursing education is creating opportunities for student success. I enjoy working with students to develop the knowledge, skill, and attitude required to provide compassionate, safe, and evidence-based care towards patients. As a nurse educator, I am able to improve patient care outcomes by appropriately training the next generation of nurses. Finally, I am blessed to work at an institution that promotes the importance of building meaningful relationships with students that are Christ-centered.

Do you have a particularly notable student success story to share?

In my final semester as an undergraduate nursing student, one of my friends and nursing peers committed suicide one month prior to our graduation. At the time it felt unexpected, but after reflection it became clear there were signs of distress. Therefore, as an educator, I have always strived to practice ongoing monitoring of student mental health and overall well-being. 

One of my notable student success stories was early recognition of a student in distress and quickly connecting them with appropriate resources. The signs were subtle but ones that I had seen before as a previous nursing student. Fast forward two years later and the student approached me in a different class and said that I was the only instructor that had recognized their distress and connected them to counseling. The student became tearful and said that without my intervention they may “not have been here anymore.” 

Did you have a particularly inspiring nurse educator when you were in school? 

It is because of the nurse educators that mentored me through undergraduate and graduate nursing school that led me to seek employment as a nurse educator from the university where I graduated. Their overwhelming commitment and involvement in my personal and professional journey were unmatched. From creating one-on-one learning sessions to accommodate my student athlete schedule, supporting me through the death of a classmate, adjusting my plan of study to ensure success of my long-term educational goals, and providing ongoing encouragement while navigating the challenges of managing a chronic illness as student were only some of the inspiring ways faculty made a difference in my journey as a nursing student.

In your opinion, why is it important to teach students to “think like a nurse?” 

It is of utmost importance to assist students in developing clinical reasoning and judgement skills. Historically, novice registered nurses are challenged in recognizing and responding to a change in patient condition resulting in failure to rescue. By assisting students in “thinking like a nurse”, they will be more confident and better equipped in early recognition and response to critical red flag indicators that will translate into better patient outcomes. 

What do you think the future of nursing will look like for students and faculty? 

In looking ahead to the future of nursing education, I anticipate a change in the minimum entry-level requirement into the nursing profession and a shift or transition to competency-based education and assessment models. This change would allow for better consistency and intentionality among how nursing graduates are prepared for practice as well as emphasizing the importance of community and team-based care. 

THE NIGHTINGALE CHALLENGE

What was the best part of working with your Kaplan Nursing Mentor? 

I was honored to have been chosen to participate in Kaplan’s Nightingale Challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed the monthly webinars as they were tailored to novice educators and provided exposure to a variety of topics presented by experts in the field of nursing education. I appreciate that we have access to the recording of each session to be able to re-watch as needed. The topics presented helped create a stronger foundation of knowledge and skills needed to be successful as a nurse educator. 

What was the best part of working with your Kaplan Nursing Mentor? 

The best part of being mentored by Hallie Bensinger, DNP, APN, FNP-BC was being able to converse with an experienced educator about situations that I encountered throughout the year. She was encouraging and provided insight and support on how to practice self-care measures throughout the most challenging year of nursing education. Hallie also provided training on how to navigate Kaplan’s website and access resources that I can use to better support my students.

Which Nightingale Challenge Meeting resonated most deeply with you and why? 

I found all of the meetings informative, but the one that resonated with me the most was our final webinar discussing concept-based curriculum. The nursing program at the university that I am employed recently transitioned to a concept-based curriculum. It was beneficial and reassuring to hear some of the challenges that we are experiencing are “normal” and expected when transitioning from a traditional model to a concept-based model of education. The webinar was interactive and discussed active learning strategies that promote concept-based thinking. 

What is the most important thing that you learned from this experience about being a successful and impactful nurse educator?

In summary, to be a successful and impactful nurse educator, one must consider the learning needs of their student population, create opportunities for active student involvement in their learning, develop content and learning assessments that are linked back to course objectives or student learning outcomes, and establish a supportive learning environment where students and educators can produce work together.  

What was the most important takeaway for you from 2020: Year of the Nurse and Midwife? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified challenges faced by nurses and exposed shortfalls in our healthcare system. This global initiative truly signifies the important work that nurses and midwives contribute to the nursing profession by way of disease prevention and health promotion around the world. We have a commitment to advancing our profession and ensuring its success through continued recruitment and retention of qualified nurses. 

ADVICE

Is there a quote or saying that you live by―especially when it comes to nursing? 

“The character of the nurse is as important as the knowledge he/she possesses”

— Carolyn Jarvis

What advice would you give to the next generation of nurse educators based on the Nightingale Challenge experience?

I would strongly encourage seeking out various educational opportunities tailored to supporting or mentoring new nurse educators. This can be in the form of attending nurse educator or teaching and learning conferences, connecting with a peer mentor at the university and departmental level, or applying for a faculty fellowship opportunity. 

NCLEX® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names are the property of the respective trademark holders, none of whom endorse or are affiliated with Kaplan.

My name is Ashley Scism and I am an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. I accepted a full-time nurse educator position at Belmont in August 2018. I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in partnership with Belmont University for both my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (2012) and Doctorate of Nursing Practice (2017) degree. My practice experience includes medical/surgical nursing and women’s health (obstetrics, urology, and gynecology). As a Family Nurse Practitioner, I managed patients primarily with endocrine disorders including type 1 or type 2 diabetes, including adjusting and interpreting insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems. In addition to practice, I thoroughly enjoy conducting and/or participating in research. While working as a nurse practitioner, I had an amazing opportunity to practice as a sub-investigator for two prominent clinical trials regarding new antidiabetic medications. I was born and raised in Nashville, TN. When I have time outside of teaching, I enjoy playing golf with my husband. We were both student-athletes in college on golf scholarship and we still enjoy playing the game!

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