LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Paul Clark’s passion for educating future nurses is evident before you enter his lab, his warm voice floating into the hallway.
Clark, Ph.D., R.N., University of Louisville School of Nursing assistant professor, has received the Novice Faculty Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), which recognizes excellence and innovation in the teaching of nursing by novice faculty at association member schools.
“Dr. Clark is encouraging, thought-provoking and I think every student absolutely loved him. He has this infectious personality that makes students enthusiastic about what they’re doing,” said Savannah Kelley, an alumna of the School of Nursing who works as a registered nurse at UofL Hospital’s trauma intensive care unit. Kelley nominated Clark for the award.
Clark teaches pharmacology and fundamentals of professional nursing practice and facilitates student clinicals, settings that are among the first where nursing students apply classroom knowledge to real-world patient care under instructor supervision.
Kelley said that Clark’s ability to inspire students to critically think when assessing patients has served her career well.
During a clinical at a rehabilitation facility where students learned basic nursing skills, including assessments and taking vital signs, Clark encouraged students to develop their own nursing judgment.
“This was the first time we were doing assessments on anybody. It was nerve-wracking,” Kelley said. “After spending the day with patients, we would come together to discuss our experiences. Dr. Clark provided constructive feedback and encouragement always. He made it a safe place to learn.”
Clark, whose background is in emergency nursing, said he enjoys challenging students as well as himself in the lab and classroom. His greatest joy in teaching occurs when a student presents an answer that exceeds his expectations.
“My students will be caring for patients in a challenging health care delivery system. They need the best of what we nursing faculty have to offer,” Clark said. “I want to convey the science of nursing as well as the art of nursing: How to listen effectively, communicate clearly, develop a therapeutic relationship with a patient, sharpen intuitive senses and address one’s own biases. By doing so, students will be better prepared to offer patient-centered care in this challenging healthcare environment.”