TEACHING was the last thing on my mind. I have never really imagined myself someday to be standing on a platform of a classroom, lecturing a crowd.

It was not until I topped the Midwifery licensure examinations and earned some post-graduate units in Nursing that I began receiving encouragements from people around me to try my luck in the academe.

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I had so many hesitations at the beginning, I must admit. In the field of nursing, a nurse can never do away with speaking to strangers – the patients and loved ones, primarily. Effective public speaking skills and having an extrovert personality are just two of the many requisites to become a highly therapeutic nurse. That’s a big problem as I always believed that I lacked all these social skills. How do I stand and talk before dozens of probing eyes without fainting?

It did not take me long to land on a teaching position in a Nursing school. What I lacked in confidence I compensated for the rather innocent assumption that I would be given a much lighter load, being the neophyte that I was.

Well it didn’t go that way, suffice it to say. Although bereft of experience, my credentials (nurse, midwife and an ongoing master’s degree that focuses on obstetrics) made me the number one target for the role of Clinical Instructor for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) — the most dreaded area in nursing, where death becomes an inevitable day-to-day experience. The ICU is what a kitchen area is to a fast food chain, only that everybody does the “hustle” to save someone’s life – not fill someone’s stomach fast.

And so having sworn to cross the bridge when I get there, I did so and thankfully managed to slay some of my inner demons upon reaching the other side. It was one of those moments when you know you are in the spotlight and you just have to sing and dance, whatever tune there is, lest you disappoint the whole world, if not, yourself, most of all.

Perhaps the more challenging part was the fact that I was assigned to a group of second coursers—doctors, paramedical professionals and other degree holders, who have decided to take up nursing and were on their senior year.

The first meeting was intimidating. Here are professionals who are at least twice my senior and are several licenses away from me waiting to hear something they probably already have heard. What more there is to say? I was afraid to teach them what they had probably learned already.

Should I probably start off with a joke? What if they’d already heard that joke? The peculiarities of age-gap dilemma. I had never felt like a small pack of ice floating on Atlantic Ocean.

Even making more complicated was the fact that I’d be supervising them on the hospital shift. For example, how do I command the doctors in the group to change the patient’s diaper or measure the patient’s urine output? How could I make them do the “dirty” jobs when in their practice they’re the real boss?

These self-doubts and feelings of inadequacies led me to Professional Teacher’s Education (Prof Ed) program of the Xavier University. For every new learning and wisdom I gain from the Prof Ed course, I made it a point to immediately apply these to my students. I may just be a nurse and a subordinate in the field of health care, but what I was more concerned of was how to give my professional students more meaningful learning experiences in the context of nursing. All these, thankfully, paid off.

Teaching is not just about a recital of facts to a crowd of students but rather imparting wisdom and truth. Teaching is not about popularity but how one is able to take the lead for the betterment of the future.

Lastly, teaching is not about getting rich, for there is definitely no money in teaching but teachers are wealthy in terms of love, wisdom and truth.

Time indeed flies so fast. It’s almost a year since I accepted the challenge of teaching. I’m grateful I took the risks. I survived!

In this newfound field, I would like to thank my Prof Ed teachers for all the understanding and support: Ms. Jovelyn Delosa, Ms Kathleen Morales, Ms Helen Maasin and Dr. Otelia Galamiton.

(paul_careline@live.com)