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TutorConnect: Empowering Nurse Educators and Transforming Nigerian Health Care Education

Efforts are underway in Nigeria to enhance the quality of its national health care education system. Yet, challenges persist in the form of limitations in the capacity and skills of instructors within pre-service health training institutions (PSHTIs). Frequently, instructors lack access to contemporary teaching methodologies and resources, impeding their capacity to deliver education that aligns with global standards. This limitation not only compromises the learning experiences of health trainees but also constrains the preparedness of future health care professionals to meet evolving health demands.

Addressing this critical need is TutorConnect, an initiative under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Nigeria Health Workforce Management (HWM) Activity. As a Zoom-based learning support platform, TutorConnect prioritizes exploring current global trends and best practices in education to empower PSHTI tutors with the competencies needed to enhance their teaching methodologies. Since its inception, TutorConnect has successfully engaged over 700 PSHTI tutors, delving into diverse topics such as evidence-based practice in education and gender equality and social inclusion. Below, two tutors and a student from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) College of Nursing Sciences, Gwagwalada, Abuja, share their firsthand experiences with the TutorConnect program.

Sisha Paul Bitrus, Senior Nurse Tutor 

Sisha Paul Bitrus, Senior Nurse Tutor, FCT College of Nursing Sciences, Gwagwalada

A Paradigm Shift in Teaching: Attending my first TutorConnect workshop was a turning point in my career. The program provided me with a fresh perspective on teaching, emphasizing the importance of behavior, approach, and attitude in the classroom. I realized that nurturing a positive learning environment is crucial for student success and engagement. The learning platform helped me develop a more student-centered approach, enabling me to build a strong rapport with my students and encourage their active participation.

Harnessing the Power of Teaching Aids: TutorConnect introduced me to various teaching aids, particularly audiovisual tools that have significantly enhanced my instructional methods. Thanks to the support of HWM, who provided equipment like computers and projectors, I am now able to incorporate multimedia elements into my lessons. This has not only made the learning experience more interactive and engaging but has also facilitated a deeper understanding of complex concepts.

Leveraging Technology for Effective Communication: One of the most valuable skills I gained from TutorConnect is the use of technology to connect with my students efficiently. I learned to utilize tools like Google Forms to quickly assess student understanding and address their queries. This streamlined communication approach has saved time and allowed me to provide timely support to my students. The use of technology has also empowered me to explore online resources for self-improvement and discover innovative teaching strategies.

Continuous Growth and Improvement: TutorConnect has provided us with a wealth of resources to enhance our teaching skills and personal growth. It has empowered me to become a more effective and empathetic educator, fostering a positive relationship with my students. The program’s emphasis on using teaching aids, leveraging technology, and adopting a mentor-mentee approach has revolutionized my classroom dynamics. I am grateful for the transformative influence of TutorConnect and will continue to strive for excellence in my role as a nurse educator.

Omoke Yusuf, Student

Omoke Yusuf, Student, College of Nursing Sciences, Gwagwalada

Enhancing Learning through Engaging Teaching Methods: In the realm of education, the role of a skilled and dedicated tutor cannot be overstated. Mr. Sisha Paul Bitrus, my tutor, has made remarkable strides in improving our learning experience through his innovative teaching methods. Below are some of the positive changes Mr. Bitrus has brought about in our classroom, particularly in the areas of instructional illustrations, two-way communication, and fostering a supportive learning environment.

Utilizing Engaging Illustrations and Materials: One of the most notable improvements in Mr. Bitrus’ teaching approach is his use of illustrations and materials to enhance our understanding of the subject matter. By incorporating visual aids, he effectively communicates complex concepts and ensures that key points are emphasized. This interactive element has transformed our learning experience, making it more dynamic and engaging.

A Shift towards Two-Way Communication: Gone are the days of passive learning, where students listened attentively without actively participating in the discourse. Under Mr. Bitrus’ guidance, our classroom has evolved into a two-way lecture environment. He encourages us to share our thoughts, ask questions, and contribute to the discussion. This inclusive approach not only deepens our understanding but also fosters critical thinking and active engagement with the subject matter.

There are No Bad Questions: Mr. Bitrus has revolutionized communication in the classroom. He has created an atmosphere where every question is welcomed, no matter how trivial it may seem. His mantra, “No matter how silly your questions are, keep asking,” encourages us to express ourselves without hesitation. By providing positive feedback and offering thorough explanations, he instills confidence in us and motivates us to explore the subject matter further.

Building a Strong Student-Tutor Relationship: The introduction of the tutor-to-teacher learning pattern has significantly strengthened the bond between Mr. Bitrus and his students. By actively engaging with our questions and concerns, he establishes a rapport based on trust and mutual respect. This nurturing environment enables us to freely express our academic challenges and seek guidance without fear of judgment. The open lines of communication have fostered a sense of camaraderie and collaboration within the classroom. Through engaging visual aids, active student participation, and positive feedback, Mr. Bitrus has succeeded in making our learning journey more enjoyable and effective. We are grateful for his dedication and commitment to our academic growth, and to HWM for this program.

Ernest Idoko, Program Analyst and Instructor

Ernest Idoko, Program Analyst and Instructor, FTC College of Nursing Sciences, Gwagwalada

A Game-Changer: TutorConnect has been a game-changer in my role as a nursing informatics tutor. The program has not only transformed my teaching methods but has also strengthened my relationship with students. By embracing interactive teaching, valuing student feedback, and expanding my knowledge through the program, I have witnessed remarkable improvements in student engagement and overall classroom dynamics. I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to continuously enhancing my teaching skills through TutorConnect.

Two-Way Communication: I have always strived to provide quality education to my students. However, my teaching methods lacked interactive elements and meaningful student engagement. That all changed when I had the opportunity to attend the TutorConnect series. This program has had an impact on my teaching approach and brought about positive changes to my relationship with students. Before TutorConnect, my classroom was more focused on one-way communication, with little interaction between myself and the students. However, the program introduced me to the power of engagement and interactive teaching. I have now incorporated various techniques to actively involve students in the learning process. By making my lessons interactive, I have witnessed increased student participation, enthusiasm, and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Relationship Building and Transformation: TutorConnect has emphasized the importance of building strong relationships with students. Recognizing the value of student feedback, I have created an open and welcoming environment where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. By actively listening to their feedback and incorporating their suggestions, I have been able to tailor my teaching methods to better meet their needs. This has fostered a sense of trust and collaboration, resulting in improved student engagement and academic performance. TutorConnect has been a transformative experience for me as a nursing informatics tutor. The program has exposed me to a wealth of new knowledge and techniques that I was previously unaware of. Through workshops and discussions, I have gained valuable insights into effective classroom management strategies. Armed with this newfound knowledge, I am confident that I will continue to improve my teaching skills and create a conducive learning environment for my students.

Invaluable Support: I am immensely grateful to the organizers of TutorConnect for providing me with this opportunity for professional growth. The program has been truly mind-blowing, broadening my horizons and challenging my previous teaching methods. The support and resources provided have been invaluable in shaping me into a more effective and impactful educator. I am excited to continue my journey with TutorConnect, confident that it will further enhance my teaching abilities.