What Does a Director of Clinical Education Do, and Is It Right for Me?
The classroom education you received during your respiratory care program gave you the foundation you need to practice in the profession. But the hands on training you got during your clinicals provided the practical know-how necessary to actually deliver respiratory care to patients.
In schools across the country making sure that clinical education is up to par is the responsibility of the director of clinical education or “DCE.” In the following interview, AARC member Jeff Anderson, RRT, DCE at Boise State University in Idaho, shares his take on the job.
What does your role as director of clinical education entail?
Being DCE consists of generating the clinical schedules, identifying instructors for our sophomore students, and coordinating rotations as well as generating affiliation agreements. I gather clinical feedback records and review student cases. I am also the internship coordinator, and have been blessed with facilities willing to provide senior internships for students. I have had this role at Boise State University for over 28 years, and enjoy strong working relationships with numerous facilities. I also teach a number of face-to-face, online, and adult critical care clinical courses.
How did you get the job and what, if any, special training did it require?
I had been the DCE at Gulf Coast Community College for three years and learned the ropes in trial by fire. That experience was invaluable when applying for my current position at Boise State. As far as training goes, I generate our annual CoARC reports and that gives me insight into how to add value to our clinical program. I received mentoring from Boise State colleagues Conrad Colby and Lonny Ashworth as well.
What would you say are the biggest challenges involved in being a DCE?
We are fortunate to be able to pay our sophomore clinical instructors who each supervise five students per shift. That is great, but it is sometimes difficult to find therapists who are already working full-time jobs who can commit to the additional workload of clinical instruction or fit it into their schedules.
What are the biggest rewards?
The biggest rewards come from students securing employment at facilities that provide clinical rotations or internships, and then hearing about how well these graduates perform. We develop strong bonds with our students, and our jobs don’t end with student graduation. These students are truly our legacy. Our program has become so well known that clinical facilities around the Northwest have contacted me to arrange remote clinical rotations or identify graduates for employment!
What advice do you have for other RTs who might be thinking about seeking out a position as director of clinical education?
Gain varied clinical experience and have a strong desire to teach. Be the type of person who enjoys developing strong working relationships with a number of different facilities, and who looks for new opportunities for clinical rotations. Good organizational skills are critical (I am still working on those), and plan to be part of a team that puts the students, program, and relationships with clinical affiliates at the top of its priority list.