Pediatrics and Pedagogy

Jul. 17, 2019
Fueled by her clinical practice and doctoral work, Erin Baylor helps drive educational innovation

A pediatric nurse practitioner with more than a quarter century of clinical experience, Erin Baylor has long advocated for using experiential learning techniques to sharpen critical-thinking skills among students. In her new role as director of simulation and as a member of the Educational Innovation Team, she is helping to lead the school’s efforts to facilitate more active learning across the curriculum. Read the highlights of our interview with her to see what makes simulation such a powerful learning tool, the connection between evidence-based practice and teaching, and why she let her students name her third child.

“Providing opportunities for students to learn critical thinking, communication, and team collaboration skills in a safe learning environment, such as in simulation, is a powerful experience. What better way to learn how to be a nurse practitioner than actually getting to practice these crucial skills in the safe environment of simulation? Students gain valuable insight on solving clinical problems through deliberate practice and rigorous self-reflection during and after simulations.

“My doctoral work focused on using simulation to facilitate critical thinking at the bedside to improve patient safety, and now I will have the opportunity to assist my colleagues in transforming their own teaching practices to include greater application of clinical decision-making skills within real-life scenarios.

“The Education Innovation Team’s mission is really about empowering all members of our school’s community with the tools to deliver the best practices in teaching and learning. Part of our vision is to energize a culture of supportive and innovative approaches to help educate a diverse group of learners.    

“As nurses, we have always embraced evidence-based practice, and one of my goals is to help foster more evidence-based teaching. What we have learned from our students is they learn so much more from engaged, active participation in hands-on learning then passively listening to a lecture.

“After losing both my dad and grandmother to heart disease when I was a child, I witnessed firsthand the impact a nurse can have not only on patients, but on the entire family.  My calling for pediatrics came during nursing school, where I became passionate about advocating for our most vulnerable population – those who cannot advocate yet for themselves. 

“My four daughters have taught me the importance of perspective and have challenged me to learn the value of balance. My teenagers provide humble reminders that perhaps I’m not the expert in technology that my colleagues at work seem to think I am!

“My youngest daughter, who has significant special needs, reminds me gently that all of us have the capacity to learn given the right circumstances, and from educators who can see your potential. Although I am preparing her for kindergarten, my daughter has also helped me to realize that the concept of assuming a person’s success can also be applied to my graduate students. I make the assumption with each of my students that they are here because they want to learn and do their best. If as educators we can find creative approaches to inspire a passion for knowledge and foster their success then we, too, are successful.

Coffee or Tea? Hot cocoa!

Netflix or Hulu? Hmmm… my current choices are between Sesame Street or Thomas and Friends, so I have to go with Hulu on this one.

Phone call or text? Phone call for sure, although I am not sure my teenagers have phones that can still do this? ;)

Work hard or play hard? BOTH!!! 

My favorite nursing moment was…when I let my students name our third daughter, Teagan. You see, I was convinced I was having a boy, and they took it upon themselves to meet outside of class to pick a good Irish girl name just in case I was wrong.

The most meaningful item on my desk… is a basket of notes I have gotten from students over the years, most about some small difference I made along their journey.

I can’t live without…Bruce Springsteen. 

If I could go anywhere right now, I would go…back to Ireland with my children, so they could “experience” their heritage in active, experiential learning, as opposed to just looking at pictures and reading about it in books. See… once a Sim girl, always a Sim girl. ;)