Welcome to Baker College’s Spotlight feature, a series of brief interviews with notable BC students, faculty and alumni who are making news and reaching new heights in their educational and professional pursuits.
This edition of Spotlight features Heraldine Flores, MSN Ed, RN, CHSE, CNE, CPN, Baker College Associate Professor for the School of Nursing. Flores was recently invited to serve as a test item writer for the CNE-n (Certified Nurse Educator-Novice). Here we learn more about Heraldine and her professional path and passions.
Baker College (BC): We're glad to have an opportunity to talk with you today, Heraldine! Can you begin by telling our readers how long you've been a part of the Baker College team?
Heraldine Flores (HF): I was hired as a pediatric nursing faculty member in 2016 at the Baker College Clinton Township Campus. In that capacity, I have taught didactic, nursing laboratory classes and clinical skills. My role also included being a cohort adviser to the students where I supported them with their unique and individual needs related to their classes.
BC: We're so lucky to count you among the BakerProud for so many years. What are the responsibilities associated with your current role as Associate Professor and your past role as Pediatric Nursing Lead Faculty?
HF: The course lead faculty for pediatrics was my title when I was at the Clinton Township Campus. As the course lead, I taught the didactic and clinical parts of the pediatric course. In that role, I supported and helped with the orientation of new adjunct faculty to their clinical role as well as both faculty and students with concerns in pediatric clinical.
The course lead role changed a bit when we transitioned to the Metro Campus because now we have a clinical coordinator who manages and follows up with clinical concerns from faculty and students.
BC: There's been so much adjusting as we move closer to opening our Royal Oak campus, certainly. Let's learn a little bit more about how you got here. What's your educational background?
HF: I finished my Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from the Philippines in 1993. I completed my Master's of Science Nursing in Nursing Education here in the United States in 2012. I left the Philippines a year after graduation from my BSN to work as a nurse here in Michigan. I worked in various settings throughout the years, starting with long-term care, oncology nursing, critical care nursing, same-day surgery, emergency nursing, and now as a nurse educator teaching at Baker College.
BC: What a prolific career! And was working in higher education-ed always part of your career plans?
HF: As a young nurse, working in academia was not a part of my career plan, even though I enjoyed teaching patients and their families about their diseases, medications and plan of care when the opportunity arose. As a nurse, I was happy and content with working in the emergency department, taking care of patients.
My path to academia started through the encouragement of one of my former co-workers, whom I used to tutor with his nursing school lessons. He recommended me to the director of nursing at their school, and I started teaching clinical. During that time, I realized that I enjoyed teaching as much as working as a nurse in the emergency department. I find both jobs exciting and intellectually stimulating because one can only plan for a perfect day but be ready to respond safely and efficiently to what the situation dictates.
BC: The variety of your experience in the nursing field is exciting. What do you like best about your work, and what do you find the most challenging?
HF: Seeing the students learn, progress and pass the NCLEX are what I like best about my work. I also enjoy working with the students in helping them reach their full potential and individual goals.
The most challenging part about my work is always remembering that learning is not a "one size fits all" environment. All students have the same goal to be successful. However, each of them is an individual coming from a diverse background, with different values, work ethic and learning styles. Understanding and embracing this concept is easy. However, the challenge is finding creative ways to teach where all of the students can benefit most, and objectives for the course are met simultaneously.
BC: The medical field is constantly changing and advancing. What trends or changes do you foresee for nursing in higher education?
HF: Because of the pandemic, the approach to education has radically changed. I can see that digital learning and virtual simulation for clinical use will be more expansive to meet the needs of the students. However, this shift also places greater responsibility on the students because the role of the faculty is to facilitate learning. The faculty will always be supportive of students and their education. However, students are expected to come prepared to class to have a productive discussion and prepare their questions for their faculty to answer and respond to. As far as testing is concerned, faculty have been provided with different modes and platforms to validate student learning depending on the course objectives.
Bake College has responded well to this emerging need by having a robust learning management system platform and providing faculty with the necessary training and support to do their job well.
Tell us a bit about your recent invitation to serve as a test item writer for the CNE-n (Certified Nurse Educator-Novice)?
HF: A couple years ago, the National League for Nursing (NLN) posted an invitation and a set of criteria for eligibility for certified nurse educators who wanted to volunteer as a test item writer for the CNE exam. I submitted all the requirements for the application and was chosen as one of the test item writers. I collaborated and partnered with different nurse educators from various colleges and universities here in the United States and abroad to work on our different test item projects until it was finished. This year, the NLN designed a certification exam for novice nurse educators (CNE-n), and I was invited to participate in the training. I was given the opportunity to serve as one of the test item writers for the CNE-n for the next two years.
I look forward to this item writing opportunity because I learn so much from the training provided and from collaborating and learning about new trends, perspectives, practices, and experiences of educators from across the country and the globe.
BC: Congratulations! As you continue to grow and serve in your own career, what best piece of career advice would you share with current college students?
HF: Approach learning with humility, respect and as an opportunity for growth. How much we learn and what we do with that knowledge is up to us. When we use it for good, it can open doors and opportunities to lead us to greater heights.
BC: That's great advice, thank you. What would you want others to understand about Baker College, its programs, and students from part of the Baker family?
Baker College is a school that caters to both traditional and non-traditional college students. Students are well-positioned to thrive and succeed with the small class sizes and supportive, well-credentialed faculty. At Baker, our students are not just a student ID number but are treated as individuals who are supported to meet their goals.
BC: Well said. Thank you for sharing your time and insights with us, Heraldine!
*Baker College also congratulates Heradline Flores on her acceptance in becoming a 2021 Item Writer Workshop writer by The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)! #BakerProud