While some might believe that the ultimate goal of education is to prepare students for exams, the faculty at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) know that they take on a much larger responsibility. Individuals across TTUHSC’s West Texas campuses are stepping out of the classroom and immediately into this current health care environment, where dedication, knowledge and adaptability are key.
No profession consistently upholds these traits like careers in nursing, where individuals in the field are held to a high standard of both expertise and human connection.
Terry Hill, DNP, RN, an assistant professor at the TTUHSC School of Nursing in Lubbock, demonstrated both of those characteristics in the years prior to his time as an educator with his work in emergency medicine and flight nursing. While he has spent the last six years expanding minds for future nursing careers, Hill said it was his experiences in flight nursing that hugely impacted the way he connects to students.
“I look at my students through the same lens as when I was caring for a critically ill patient in the back of an AeroCare helicopter,” said Hill, who explained that rather than seeing the students as “critically ill,” he respects that each individual is under a tremendous amount of pressure.
“Whether in the ER or in a helicopter, I knew I only had my patient for a very short period, just as is the case with my students,” said Hill. “ I learned to bond or connect quickly with my patients, and I think I intuitively do the same with students.”
Hill added that he believes that the students who attend TTUHSC are readying themselves to trail-blaze in the field of health care.
“I think students are being prepared to take the lead after graduation,” said Hill. “The focus of the educational experience goes far beyond preparing graduate nurses just to pass the NCLEX. Every effort is put into creating a learning environment that reflects real-life situations and challenges.”
Hill, who is highly admired by both peers and students within the TTUHSC community, credited his fellow faculty members and the nursing curriculum for the many skill sets that graduating nurses are able to acquire during their time in their respective programs.
“[TTUHSC] faculty don’t leave very often,” said Hill. “There is a dynamic culture of highly skilled and motivated faculty that genuinely love what they do. Educating students is a real calling for the faculty.”
In terms of material, Hill spoke of a long-standing but constantly developing curriculum within the School of Nursing.
“The emphasis by leadership has been to create a learning environment that equips graduate nurses to contribute to healthcare in an impactful way the minute they go to work,” Hill said.
Alongside an effective curriculum and a community of similarly-motivated faculty members, Hill finds it possible to achieve his ultimate goal.
“The goal is always the same—for both patients and students,” said Hill. “For them to come out on the other side a better person for the experience. If I can help you achieve that goal, I am 110% on board.”