Recipient of national nursing award teaches caring

A colorful board filled with paper cutouts glued into the shape of a winding brick road sat on Patty Beamer’s desk.

She beamed with pride and nostalgia as she described how “Student Nurse Land,” an adaption from the board game Candyland, encourages students — who are questioning a diagnosis — to think beyond the traditional diagnosis and focus on the details that reveal an unexpected diagnosis.

The Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) selected Beamer for the Nurse’s Touch award out of 442 nominees nationwide after being nominated by two WSU students. Beamer will receive an all-expenses paid, four-day trip to Nashville in April to attend the 2016 ATI National Nurse Educator Summit.

“In Candyland you have to overcome some pitfalls while other spaces you land on push you forward, just like in life,” said Beamer, a clinical educator in Wichita State’s School of Nursing.

The students who nominated Beamer said she was the best teacher they’d ever had.

Alumnus Brett Schaplowsky, a registered nurse at Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital, said he nominated Beamer because she’s caring, driven and intelligent.

“She likes to get behind students and push instead of getting in front of them and pulling,” he said. “She’s very passionate about her students. She’s not going to let them fall by the wayside. She tries everything she can to make sure they succeed.”

 Nursing senior Karin Carlson, one of the two students who nominated Beamer for the award, created “Student Nurse Land.”

Carlson said Beamer sparked her interest in nursing because she set high expectations, modeled excellent nursing, led by example and was truly passionate.

“She teaches you to be curious,” Carlson said. “She teaches you to be a professional, and that anyone can develop the technical skills of nursing, but what sets a great nurse apart are the soft skills of getting down to that person’s level. She has a sixth sense about people.”

Beamer said the most important aspect about nursing is caring. Her background in psychiatric mental health allows her to teach students how to communicate with patients more effectively and provide holistic care.

“I teach my students to look at the big picture and meet the patients where they are instead of trying to fit them into the box they think they should be in,” she said. “That way [students] have a much better chance of finding out why [patients] are the way they are, so we can deal with it. That’s caring. Students find, when they do this, the patients really open up to them.”

Beamer tells her students if they care, without judgment, the patients will tell their story because they know the nurse has their best interest at heart.

Beamer said she was toughest on Carlson because she expected the most from her.

“In the end, the goal is to become a better nurse,” Beamer said. “I’m trying to teach [students] what I think is best, and hopefully they’ll take that with them. I would love for my students to practice the one word that describes us best, and that’s caring.”

Winners of the award are educators who excel at integrating professional and interpersonal skills into their nursing practice and the education of students, said an ATI news release. Skills of the winner include teaching nursing students how to be a patient advocate, convey professional behaviors and attitudes, stay healthy, manage work-related stress, use nursing informatics and technology and function as a leader of the health care team.