Sunday, December 17, 2017

Know Your Profs: Camosun’s Michele Agostinelli sticks on bright side of nursing education

April 1, 2015 by Jason Schreurs, assistant editor

Know Your Profs is an ongoing column where we ask the instructors at Camosun College the same 10 questions in order to get to know them and their teaching styles a little better.

Do you have an instructor that you want to see interviewed in Nexus? Maybe you want to know more about one of your teachers, but you’re too busy, or shy, to ask? Email and we’ll add your instructor to our list of teachers to reach out to.

This issue we talked to Nursing instructor Michele Agostinelli about her positive outlook on teaching and how the challenges of nursing education push her and her students to always do better.

1: What do you teach and how long have you been a teacher at Camosun?

I’ve been teaching at Camosun since 2005, when I started teaching first-year nursing students in clinical nursing practice. I have taught most courses in year one and two of the Nursing program. I really enjoy teaching the professional practice course in year one.

2: What do you personally get out of teaching?

I appreciate the student perspective on nursing. It’s fresh, and often the classes are made up of a very diverse group of people with unique life experiences. In different Nursing classes we may talk about health, health care, lifestyle, and all of these components of people’s lives that are greatly affected by health and illness. Bearing witness to many people’s health experiences can be challenging. As a nurse educator, it’s very exciting to listen to students express experiences, their learning, and making the connection between what they may have learned in the classroom to an experience with a patient or a group of people in the clinical setting. I also love those moments of intense learning in the classroom, punctuated with a good dose of humour. When there’s a humorous moment in the classroom and then everyone is reset and ready to work again, it’s like an energizing breath of fresh air.

3: What’s one thing you wish your students knew about you?

I have high expectations for myself about nursing practice and nursing education and a love of learning. I learn a lot from the students I work with, and we’re working toward the same goals in the educational setting. Students say the most amazing, profound, intelligent, and complex things sometimes in class. I will often pause and think about what a student has said to appreciate the comment and give some thought to what was said. The comments are often so extremely valid and relevant that they deserve quite a bit of time to digest.

4: What’s one thing you wish they didn’t know about you?

That I have high expectations about nursing education.

Camosun College Nursing instructor Michele Agostinelli (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

Camosun College Nursing instructor Michele Agostinelli (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

5: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you as a teacher here?

Being able to teach so many different courses, and the ongoing education. For example, I heard Margaret Wheatley speak at a Camosun education session; the educational opportunities on campus have really positively influenced my teaching and my nursing practice.

6: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you as a teacher here?

My positive outlook makes it difficult to think of a “worst ever” moment. I’ve been fortunate, I suppose. I think the changing nature of health care and the changing aspects of postsecondary education have presented challenges in nursing education. Change and growth can be challenging, so as a nurse educator navigating that change with students isn’t always easy, but very rich in terms life experience and learning.

7: What do you see in the future of postsecondary education?

I hope to see a growth in both accessibility and academic rigour. Learning is such a beautiful thing to be able to do and take pride in doing well.

8: What do you do to relax on the weekends?

I spend time with my family in a small cabin beside a lake in the woods, I bake, and I love to run… a lot.

9: What is your favourite meal?

I love kale. Kale salad, homemade kale chips, kale braised with chickpeas… Really, any meal with kale is perfect!

10: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When I feel rushed. I like to be in the moment with students, patients, myself, and my family. I find it much more challenging to be in the moment when I feel rushed.

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