Nurse Week: Interview with Carson-Newman Online RN to BSN Program Director, Sue McBee

Nurse Week: Interview with Carson-Newman Online RN to BSN Program Director, Sue McBee Blog Header
Nurse Week: Interview with Carson-Newman Online RN to BSN Program Director, Sue McBee Blog Header

Online RN to BSN Program Director, Sue McBee, has served as Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing at Carson-Newman for over two decades. She received a Diploma in Nursing from Saint Mary’s in Knoxville, her BSN from East Tennessee State University and her MSN from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Sue’s clinical experiences include Critical Care, Public and Community Health, One Day Surgery, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Nuclear Medicine and the Emergency Room. Sue has participated in medical clinics abroad, served on disaster relief teams in Florida, Missouri, West Virginia and Haiti; and led students on medical mission trips to many countries, including Belize, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Sue has further worked with a medical team in the slums of Mumbai, India and has also served as a volunteer at the Baptist Center Western Heights and Angelic Ministries in Knoxville, TN.

1. The themes for Nurse Week 2018 are Inspire. Innovate. Influence. What is the most innovative force that’s positively changing nursing today?

I believe the most innovative force that’s positively changing nursing today is the focus on health promotion and prevention. Our health care system seems to be disease and treatment oriented and costs are out of control.

The future of nursing is dependent on being in the leadership role of focusing on health promotion and prevention when providing care to clients in hospitals and community settings.

2. As a Nurse Educator, what do you believe will be the biggest opportunity for nurses over the next decade? (Do you feel positive about the future of nursing?)

Yes, I believe the future of nursing is very positive. There seems to be opportunity for more autonomy in nursing. Nurses are practicing more independently than ever before. Higher education is expected and desired and nurses are better prepared to meet the challenges of issues of illness along with promoting health and wellness.

3. What was/is your favorite part of nursing and nurse education?

My greatest passion in nursing is working in the community with individuals, families, and populations of people at home and abroad. This also includes working with students at home and abroad when caring for those in the culture of poverty.

It is very challenging to work with people who have limited or no resources to aid in their current state of illness for health promotion/prevention purposes. It is a real challenge to assist those clients to find resources to just meet their basic needs.

The students and I learn many things from these experiences. For example, we learn how much we are blessed and realize we have an opportunity to help those who are suffering and having difficulty just meeting basic needs.

We learn to develop a deep concern for those who are in such difficult circumstances and develop a spirit of volunteerism going beyond the student education requirement or nursing workforce role. We learn to therapeutically communicate, through translation in many instances, since many of those we care for globally and even some locally are of a different culture and speak a different language.

We learn the meaning of holistic care as we work to meet client needs physically, social/culturally and spiritually. We learn to become servant leaders which is part of our mission at C-N. So, community health nursing and working with nursing students is my ministry, my greatest passion in nursing.

4. Can you describe an example of how BSN-prepared nurses’ professional ethics impact nursing practice?

Two areas come to mind when considering the BSN curriculum and clinical experiences in preparing professional nurses. One area is the area of social justice threaded through the curriculum which is essential in ethical decision making. The second area would be relative to nursing research and use of evidenced-based practice which also would focus on the ethics of beneficence and nonmaleficence (doing good, doing no harm).

5. How do you inspire your students? Do you have a certain approach in your teaching philosophy?  

I try to inspire students by promoting a vision of what can be, personally and professionally, a vision that becomes a mission in promoting and providing compassionate, quality, holistic nursing care. I encourage them to recognize that we can make the world a better place for those we serve by the care we provide.

My approach to teaching is conceptual. We look at specific concepts relative to material being introduced and provide clinical opportunities to apply those concepts to nursing practice. I find that students learn and retain more when provided opportunities to apply what they learn into practice.

6. What trends are you seeing in BSN nurses going on to pursue their MSN?

Students now come into the university seeking the BSN as a stepping stone to their goal of becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Anesthetist or another expanded role. There are so many opportunities for advanced practice nurses and prospective students already know about them and are setting goals to achieve this advanced practice role early on.  

7. What are the top three challenges that you see nurses facing on the job? How do you think these challenges can be addressed?

  1. Work overload – assignments of too many high acuity patients that require more attention/care than the nurse can give.

  2. Patients that have poorly developed coping skills and are difficult to care for such as those with addiction issues.

  3. An ever-changing and challenging work environment that is continually adding new policies, rules and regulations.

8. Did an experience or mentor influence you in your past life and work? Are there other influences that affect your own compassion as a nurse and educator?

I have worked with many wonderful nurses during my forty-four years of nursing practice. It would be most difficult to single out one special person, since there have been so many.

As I challenge my students to do, I tried to choose my role models wisely. I wanted to be like the great nurses who had knowledge and skills but also had humility and kindness in the way they treated their clients.

Influences in my life as it reflects compassion, kindness and caring would come from my Mom who was one of the most patient, kind and caring human beings I have ever known, but most importantly, Jesus Christ who, regardless of your beliefs of God, was the perfect example of unconditional love and compassion toward others. My desire is to follow His example of being more selfless, kind and compassionate.