Nurse Educator Education Project experiences

Student online mentoring

Authors: Professor Leena Salminen, Project researcher Imane Elonen

Empowering the Nurse Educators in the Changing World –study programme was developed, as a first step towards joint nurse educator education in Europe. During our educator education programme a great variety of distance teaching and learning methods were used to give participants equal opportunities to participate and enable self-directiveness at the same time. This called a great amount of support and mentoring for the students during the studies. In our project we think mentoring as partnership which contains authentic communication, enriching support, sharing knowledge (Busby et al., 2023) and supervising the studies.

Definition, content and forms of mentoring

Mentoring has been found to be an important thing to adapt new faculty to teaching and socialize them to the academic community (Webber et al., 2020). Mentoring contributes to career development through a continuous learning process and support for role development (Costa & Smith, 2023). Mentoring is often defined as a relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced mentee for the purpose of supporting the mentee’s competence and career (Busby et al, 2022), but it is also considered as a support and guidance during the studies and career development (van Dongen et al., 2023.).

Mentoring can have different forms, e.g. formal mentoring, where mentors are assigned to mentees; informal mentoring, based on social attraction between the mentee and mentor; peer mentoring and group mentoring, where multiple mentors support the mentee (Busby et al., 2022). For novice nurse educator entering in nursing education without guidance and support, the transition can be frustrating and lead to career dissatisfaction. Mentoring can be one of the most important things for the successful learning process and also transition to academia, inspiring confidence in new nurse educators. Therefore, we aimed to mentor our student during the nurse educator education program.

Student online mentoring was activity conducted during the whole study programme “Empowering the nurse educators in the changing world”. Mentoring included guiding and instructing the students in the use of the learning environment, helping the students to access the study materials and tasks and supporting to use and utilize the technical solutions and applications used. Also, the educator professional development and career was discussed. The more experienced participants mentored and guided the less experienced participants. The participants wrote the learning diary to reflect their experiences and what they have learnt.

Elements of mentoring

Mentoring in the study programme consisted of three main elements. Techinical support and practical information, online mentoring with the study programme content and learning process, and on-site mentoring during the Empowering Learning Environments in Nursing Education (ELENE) intensive week and teacher training week during Evidence-Based Teaching (EBT) study unit. Technical support and practical information, and online mentoring with the study programme content and learning process was ongoing throughout the whole study programme. On-site mentoring occurred during the two week long on-site studying and training.

Technical support

Technical support and practical information started already before the study programme started, with preparation of material for students, who come from different backgrounds and countries. Written instructions with informative images were prepared, to ease the enrollment process and access of the digital environment and resources. Furthermore, after the enrollment, students received also one on one guidance via phone, e-mail and video conferencing tools, in case they had trouble accessing the learning platform or finding necessary materials or resources there. In addition, students could approach one of the instructors throughout the study programme. There were various instructors conducting mentoring during the study programme, but there was one instructor from University of Turku, assigned to keep in touch with the students throughout the whole 10-month programme. Students could self-determine the means they contacted the instructors, phone, e-mail or video conferencing. The learning platform news was utilized often, and instructors forwarded information and reminders about the learning tasks and deadlines and practical arrangements of the studies and travels.

Online mentoring

Similarly, as technical and practical support, online mentoring with the study programme content and learning process started already before the study programme started. Students who pondered participation and their own abilities to complete the study programme or some of the units, were guided and informed about the requirements and content of the study programme. The mentoring of the studies, started already on the second week of the programme, during ELENE online teaching. All students were invited to a video conferencing, should they need guidance in their group work. This was repeated also on the third week after a request from the students. Furthermore, guided group work was utilized in almost all of the study units.

In ELENE and Global Health Issues, there were two sessions of guided group work, and in Issues in Future Nurse Education (IFNE) and Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work (ENEW) there were weekly online guided group work sessions. In addition, two study units, EBT and ENEW had a question hour. In EBT the question hour was about the practical and theoretical content and requirements of the teacher training, in ENEW the students had an opportunity to ask questions about the content of the study unit from an ethics expert.

Online mentoring was utilized also for preparation of the on-site elements of the programme. Before ELENE, students received information and instructions about practical arrangements. Communication was frequent, as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and constantly changing restrictions and travel requirements caused plenty of uncertainty. Students received information and guidance about anything and everything related to traveling to Turku in the after waves of the global pandemic. Before EBT teacher training, the students had several online meetings with the receiving universities. They were guided in their preparations for the teacher training and presentations and teaching sessions that were expected from them during the training week, as well as practical issues about travel and accommodation, including frequent weather broadcasts and assurance the people coming from warmer climate would cope in the winter of the colder climate countries.

On-site mentoring

On-site mentoring, lasted for the two weeks students were visiting the organizing universities. On-site mentoring during ELENE was guided group works and helping students to find places where they needed to be. During EBT teacher training, on-site mentoring varied from place to place, as each and every receiving university had created individual programmes, based on the training opportunities and schedules and local expertice. Study visits were arranged in all of the universities to different collaboration partners and some extra curricular activities were also arranged to make the students feel welcome and give them opportunity to get familiar with the culture they were visiting. Students were also offered guidance during their learning tasks and the instructors in the universities shared their own experiences and expertise with the students.


Mentoring, during the Empowering the Nurse Educators in the Changing World study programme was successful, as majority of the students completed the study units they started, which is positive considering that online education has usually high dropout rates (Wang et al., 2019). During the study programme, the mentoring was seen as an ongoing process rather than a designed task. The mentors were available and listened to the students, and the structure of the guidance was altered based on feedback from the students. The regular availability of the mentors and guidance for social interaction, may have improved the completion rate. (Wang et al., 2019.) Furthermore, mentoring was not limited to instructors mentoring the students, but the students stated learning from each other’s experiences and expertice as well.


Busby, K.R., Draucker, C.B., Reising, D.L., 2022. Exploring mentoring and nurse faculty: an integrative review. J. Prof. Nurs. 38, 26–39. profnurs.2021.11.006

Busby, K.R., Draucjer, C.B., & Reising D.L. 2023. Mentoring-as-Partnership: The Meaning of Mentoring Among Novice Nurse Faculty. Journal of Nursing Education 62 (2), 83-88. DOI: 10.3928/01484834-20221213-03

Costa CB., & Smith JE. 2023. Career Satisfaction and Advancement Related to Mentorship Experiences of Underrepresented Nursing Faculty.Nurse Education Perspective 44(5), 291-294 doi: 10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000001173

van Dongen, L.J.C., Leino-Kilpi H., Jónsdóttir, H.J., Meyer, G., Henriques, M.A., Schoonhoven, L., Suhonen, R., & Hafsteinsdóttir, T.B. 2023. The experiences of doctorally prepared nurses and doctoral nursing students with being mentored in the Nurse-Lead programme: A focus group study. Nurse Education in Practice, epub.

Wang, W., Guo, L., He, L., & Wu, Y. J. (2019). Effects of social-interactive engagement on the dropout ratio in online learning: insights from MOOC. Behaviour & Information Technology, 38(6), 621-636.

Webber, E., Vaughn-Deneen, T., & Anthony, M. 2020. Three-Generation Academic Mentoring Teams – A New Approach to Faculty Mentoring in Nursing. Nurse Educator 45(4), 210-213. DOI: 10.1097/NNE.000000000000077

Nurse Educator Education Project experiences

Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work – Utilising Case-studies in Ethics Education

Authors: Ľuboslava Pavelová, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra & Imane Elonen, University of Turku

“My first “gentle” touch with the subject of ethics was at the beginning of my Nursing studies in 1988 (I have a nostalgic smile on my face right now). Initially it was an uninteresting subject for me, based on theory and philosophy only and I couldn’t really understand.”

Ethics education, as all education, has traditionally been lecture based in all health sciences and in nursing. Furthermore, it was more focused on theoretical knowledge on philosophical base of ethics and learning the codes, rather than engaging in ethical problem solving or providing tools to do that. (Woods, 2005.)

“ Subsequently, as a nurse in clinical practice, I knew about the code of ethics, I respected the four main principles in the provision of nursing care and somehow intuitively solved ethical issues, dilemmas.”

Education in health sciences and ethics, has come a long way since and there is great amount of information on evidence based teaching in ethics. Problem based learning (PBL), Case based learning (CBL), simulations, games and others (Opsahl et al., 2020; Herron et al., 2019; Namadi et al., 2019; Srinivasan et al., 2007).

The study unit Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work, which was the final of the five study units forming the Empowering Nurse Educators in the Changing World (ENEC) study programme organized by the Erasmus+ funded project “New Nurse Educator”, utilised case-studies as the method of teaching. Knowing the effectiveness of CBL (Herron et al., 2019; Namadi et al., 2019), the organizers wanted to ensure the participants don’t only learn ethics of nurse educators but may also rediscover the effectiveness and acceptability of CBL in ethics education.

CBL has its benefits in teaching ethics, especially in time constricted, fairly intensive study units, as the study units within the ENEC study programme (Herron et al., 2019; Namadi et al., 2019 Srinivasan et al., 2007). Compared to similarly effective method, PBL, CBL provides clearer structure and more streamlined approach, enabling students to reach conclusion with less time and effort, yet demanding them to develop their problem solving skills and engage in collaborative inquiry to reach their goal (Srinivasan et al., 2007). CBL has been proven an effective and preferable method in ethics education, and it equips the students with necessary problem solving skills (Namadi et al., 2019).

“Later, as a teacher, I introduced the students – future nurses to the moral, ethical requirements, rules, principles to be followed in the performance of daily nursing activities. Being “here” today in 2022 (I have a satisfactory smile on my face) I am at the end of graduating from the educational module “ethics and nurse educators work” within the Empowering the nurse educators in the changing world (ENEC) – study program. My role as a teacher enriched by the fact that the current, dynamically evolving time demands in the educational process to not only use the classical teaching methods, but also less traditional ones. Those that can inspire and make students to work independently, in finding appropriate solutions to ethical issues and dilemmas in diligence. “

In addition to traditional word based case scenarios, there are promising results, in utilising case videos, they may further enhance both learning and acceptability in students (Herron et al, 2019). The study unit “Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work” was completed by majority of the registered students. The case studies were engaging and students represented their cases during the final webinar of the whole one-year ENEC programme, prompting fascinating and inspiring international discussions, which hopefully will inspire the educators and educator candidates further in their educator careers.

“I want to set my work to a new direction. I am empowered to promote a culture of ethical behaviour for students – future nurses. I am ready to talk to students about ethics and adherence to ethical principles, to encourage them to discuss their concerns about their ethical dilemmas without fear of retaliation. I support open and continuous communication between us and I want to act as a positive role model for them. Thank you for this opportunity!”

Srinivasan, M., Wilkes, M., Stevenson, F., Nguyen, T., & Slavin, S. (2007). Comparing problem-based learning with case-based learning: effects of a major curricular shift at two institutions. Academic Medicine, 82(1), 74-82.

Namadi F, Hemmati-Maslakpak M, Moradi Y, Ghasemzadeh N. The effects of nursing ethics education through case-based learning on moral reasoning among nursing students. Nurs Midwifery Stud 2019;8:85-90

Opsahl, A., Nelson, T., Madeira, J., & Wonder, A. H. (2020). Evidence‐Based, Ethical Decision‐Making: Using Simulation to Teach the Application of Evidence and Ethics in Practice. Worldviews on EvidenceBased Nursing, 17(6), 412-417.

Herron, E. K., Powers, K., Mullen, L., & Burkhart, B. (2019). Effect of case study versus video simulation on nursing students’ satisfaction, self-confidence, and knowledge: A quasi-experimental study. Nurse education today, 79, 129-134.

Woods, M. (2005). Nursing ethics education: are we really delivering the good (s)?. Nursing ethics, 12(1), 5-18.

Project experiences

New Ways Of Working On An Erasmus+ Project During The Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learnt So Far

Author of the blog post is Dr. Michelle Camilleri from University of Malta.

When I was invited by my boss to join the New Nurse Educator Erasmus+ project back in September 2020 to represent Malta as one of the partners I immediately said yes without giving it, or Covid-19 much thought.  My passion for learning in practice, the development of nurse educators and nurse mentors probably clouded my judgement at the time, especially as the previous 6 months had been a very stressful and intense time. Like everyone else, I had been restricted to my home, juggling the kids online schooling, my own online work and the immense extra work the rapidly evolving Covid-19 pandemic created due to the restrictions, cancelled placements, academics requiring quick online teaching tutorials as well as the numerous unknowns that this virus brought with it.  Luckily, the European Commission allowed virtual exchange in (partial) replacement of physical exchange under the Erasmus+ mobility programme, so the project was able to start and continue (European University Association, 2020).

The thought of getting on a airplane at various moments during the academic year to meet up with other like-minded partners and work on our planned project was very enticing, and after having had an extremely stressful 6 months of “Covid-19 life”, I was looking forward to getting back to the normality of international work and travel! Only Covid-19 seems to be lingering around much longer than any of us wished! As I write this today, we have just completed our first year of the 3 year project without ever having met as a team in person. Like most other professionals, academics and students, our work became zoomified. There was no kick off meeting in Turku  and to this day, I have not yet had the opportunity to get to know each and every member of this project.

I would say at this point that this first year has been remarkably productive and interesting. The technology and everyone’s ability to use the technology was a huge asset. Furthermore, although we didn’t know each and every member on the project team, it was evident that several members were connected, possibly through previous international projects, exchange of students and/or other academic endeavours such as shared teaching, external examination and so on.  I didn’t know anyone on the project (apart from my boss), especially because I only joined after the application was worked on, submitted and approved.

Connecting with various members was difficult online, as coffee breaks and lunch breaks are those precious moments during international in person meetings, where you get to chit chat with different people and get to learn about them, what makes them tick and to perhaps continue with the discussions that would have just taken place prior to the break.  Consciously, I know that I have to work harder to get to know colleagues on this project in a very different way to what I am used to!  The social element of connecting within the professional world is so important and valuable, and the zoomification of our work on this project has truly highlighted the role that the social element plays in productivity and success. 

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Instead of coffee breaks, we talked about the weather, we talked about Covid-19 numbers, Covid-19 deaths as well as the latest restrictions or freedoms within our countries, and we talked about our nursing programmes, particularly how our students and academics were helping with contact tracing and vaccinations. Every meeting started with social covid-19 conversations, which in reality were wellbeing conversations (The TPHE Collective, 2020). I learned more and more about the other partner institutions, countries and cities as well as about the rise and fall of Covid-19. Most significantly, I learnt about how each member in our project team was feeling about the evolving situation. Using the limited view Zoom gives me of each person on my screen, I found myself focusing much more intensely on their facial expressions, the words they used and the tone of their voices. 

Has the technology been good or bad for our project? According to Alberti (2020), there are challenges and opportunities to work in this zoomified way, but put simply, the technology has enabled us to continue working on this project, and has ensured that we met our targets for the first year as laid out in our project application. For me personally, given that I have 2 small children under the age of 10, as well as two family members who were classified as extremely vulnerable, attending face to face meetings during this past year would have been simply impossible. I would have missed out greatly on connecting with the team, and would have definitely developed a huge sense of isolation. I also feel that I wouldn’t feel as connected to the project as I feel right now. Given the circumstances this pandemic has created, I feel that the technology has been a fantastic opportunity for us. Our learning of new ways of working has been steep. Technology is becoming such a crucial part of our working lives, and it will no doubt continue to shape our day to day working practices in the years to come. 

In spite of the amazing technology, today I still find myself looking forward to that first face to face meeting, even though we are still not entirely sure when this will happen. Nevertheless, when that face to face meeting will eventually happen, I feel that we will just pick up where we left off at the last Zoom meeting!

Here are some tips for anyone planning to work across borders when the borders are closed to travel:

  • Keep regular and frequent meetings
  • Talk about the weather! Always start with a round robin to hear how each “partner” is doing, where their country is at, and why not, an update on the weather conditions
  • Apply netiquette rules by keeping the cameras on and the microphones muted unless speaking
  • Use more technology – Have a repository/platforms where all documents are kept for quick and easy reference
  • Appreciate everyone is busy – Ensure important documents are sent a few days prior to the meeting – as time in the online meeting is limited so that each member who attends is prepared
  • Avoid individual isolation – Be mindful of the time, and ensure that each partner is actively involved in each meeting
  • Ensure connectivity – Carry out regular temperature checks, to gauge whether each partner is comfortable with the timings, pace and duration of the meetings
  • Recognise individuality – some members may need more time to engage virtually, than in person – and allow them the time and space to engage
  • Avoid individuals “zooming out” by keeping the meetings short
Image by Imane Elonen


Alberti, S. (2020, July 15). The “Zoomification” of work: Challenge or opportunity? HRD.

European University Association. (2020, September).

The TPHE Collective. (2020, May 6). The pandemic brings home the need to focus on humane and meaningful. Inside Higher Ed.

Project experiences

Working in an international project

Author: Simone Campos Silva, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Nurse educator education is an area, which is not yet in the public eye but should get more attention and interest because nurse educators are the ones qualifying and educating our nurses. The current corona pandemic has painfully shown us how important well-trained nurses are for society. This Erasmus+ project offers the possibility to further explore the important field of nurse educators. While raising awareness for an ‘under-researched’ area is of great value, this Erasmus+ project also provides a tremendous opportunity to work with colleagues from different European countries.  

This international project is my first experience working in a research project, as I finished my Master of Education in teaching at vocational schools last year. Consequently, I am delighted and excited about having the opportunity to work in such a project as a junior researcher. Through a very open climate in project meetings and the possibility for discussions, I profit and learn from highly experienced colleagues in the field of nursing education. The project meetings take place once a month via Zoom and partners are updated about the progress in different parts of the project. Being able to communicate only online without having met any of the project partners in person bears at times its challenges. However, the project meetings are the basis for reaching consensus about terms and processes. This is very important as we quickly realized how different nurse educator education is organized in different European countries.

It is particularly exciting for me to work closely with colleagues from the field of nurse educator education, as collaborating with six different countries is highly motivating. The project partners from Finland, Malta, Slovakia, Spain and the UK are all experts in this field and bring forward their country specific knowledge. In Germany, the field of nursing science is still relatively young in the academic community and a lot is still being explored and developed. Countries such as Finland or the UK have more experience in this area, so looking beyond one’s own country is very promising and can point the way to the future. Learning from other countries, cultures, and concepts as well as listening to others’ experiences is something I will always appreciate.

Finally, I am really looking forward to the moment when it will be possible to have a personal meeting with all of the partners.

Project experiences

Working as an intern in New Nurse Educator-project

Anna-Kaisa Nikkilä MNSc, MSSc–student

Team University of Turku, Finland

Since autumn 2019 I have studied in a new Master’s programme Social and Health Research and Management (MSSc) at faculty of social sciences in University of Helsinki, Finland. As part of those studies an internship including research and administrative work differing from one’s own previous work experience is highly recommended. I graduated ten years ago from the department of Nursing Science at the University of Turku as a nurse educator. Since then I have worked as a nurse educator at a vocational institute.

Through social media channels I became aware of this international Erasmus+ -project in which the Department of Nursing Science at the University of Turku was starting as a coordinator led by professor Leena Salminen. Project aiming to examine the education of nurse educators, their competences and work tasks at European level and seeking to harmonize nurse educators’ education in Europe aroused my interest. I contacted professor Salminen and on that road I am now writing this blog post.

New nurse educator -project plan was accepted and funding secured in July 2020 after which I commenced in the project in September 2020. Inthe beginning of my internship I participated in the webinars organized by Finnish National Board of Education, which included excellent examples of project work coordination, project work phases, financial management -and reporting of the project. The experiences of different actors in past Erasmus projects were also introduced and making acquaintance of their successes and stumbling blocks were in particular useful.

My very first task in this project was to prepare partner contracts between the coordinator and partner organizations. For that examining thoroughly the contents of planned work packages and previously created project plan was essential to get an overview of the project. Later on I have participated in the planning of the first work package both in terms of literature search and selection and evaluation of useful instruments for measuring nurse educators’ competences. Taking care of the communication between partner universities and University of Turku has also been my responsibility together with the project assistant. Project communication was brand new issue for me when starting in this project, thus I found the instructions of the Finnish National Board of Education very useful in familiarizing my self with it. At the heart of the project work have been the international team’s monthly joint meetings. They have helped everyone involved in the project to keep up with the progress of the project and enabled them to reflect ongoing and upcoming things together.

Scientific research always involves research ethics. In particular, since the entry into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, special attention has to be paid to the data protection of personal data in research. In connection with the research ethics preparing the annexes to the pre-evaluation of the research ethics of the first work package of the project was challenging but instructive task.

Anna-Kaisa and Leena in a transnational project meeting via Zoom.

In today’s working life, project work skills have taken on a significant role. Although I have gained a rich work experience in nursing field as a midwife and a nurse educator I have found working in this project has enriched me with an excellent work experience in starting a project, promoting and managing it systematically–things that I can not consider to have mastered based on my previous work experience. Projects are often criticized for their temporariness and lack of dissemination of the outputs. As a potential advantage about a project taking place in an academic community I see a better likelihood in dissemination of its results. Scientific articles will be written about the outputs of this project as well. The articles remain in the databases and the information contained in them will benefit both the practical working life and the scientific community long after the project has ended.

It has been rewarding to have had a chance involving myself in commencement of this consequential project. I would like to use this opportunity to thank professor Leena Salminen and research assistant MNSc Imane Elonen of our fruitful co-operation and wish success in project work for all project participants!

© Markkanen Sami