Excellence in Teaching
Having taught at Southeastern for more than 18 years, associate professor of nursing Susan Pryor believes that playing games helps improve the field of nursing.
As a teacher of both the theoretical and clinical components of pediatrics, Pryor is known for customizing her instructional techniques to meet the needs of a particular class or even a part of a class.
She compensates for different ways of learning by employing games, journaling, on-line coursework and case studies as well as combinations of techniques to ensure students receive the life-saving skills and information they need to be successful.
“Once I get a feel for a particular class, then I decide where to go with that group,” said Pryor, this year’s recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. “It’s like putting a puzzle together it depends on the needs of the class.”
Using multiple strategies in instruction, Pryor said, allows students to use different processes to understand information. “The biggest challenge is helping students go from textbook to being at bedside.”
“Dr. Pryor consistently identifies the strengths of each student, and works to ensure that each is challenged while learning,” said Dr. Jeannie R. Harper, an instructor in theSchoolofNursing. “She is open to student input and encourages self-directed learning.”
One game she uses in class is “Who’s the Strongest Link,” which requires students to list patients in the order they would assess them.
“It isn’t about a person having to comply to one methodology,” Pryor said. “It’s finding the particular methodology that opens the knowledge to students.”
“Dr. Pryor encourages her students to engage in activities that are not only beneficial to learning but also practical in application,” said Lara Beth Guidry Conner, a nursing graduate student. “She uses every opportunity as a learning experience. Her assignments encourage critical thinking, creativity and the ability to view areas and concepts in new ways.”
Pryor grew up near Chicago and lived there until her freshman year of high school when her dad was transferred to Baton Rouge. She received her BSN from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and returned to Louisiana to work at Earl K. Long Hospital in the critical care unit. She received her graduate degrees from LSU Medical Center in New Orleans and then started teaching at Southeastern.
“The beauty for me is the combination of nursing and teaching,” Pryor said of her career choice. “I’m in practice and on the floor with the students.”
Known for utilizing technology in her teaching, Pryor views computer-aided instruction, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and streaming video as both a challenge and asset to instructors. “As a result of technology, we have to be life-long learners. We have to know how to teach them to keep on growing, to keep on learning.
“The other beauty of using technology is that I often learn from students,” she added. “It is a symbiotic relationship. It is a collaborative learning experience. I have no problem asking students how they did something. That’s part of the fun.”
Pryor believes being approachable makes students more willing to ask questions about things they do not understand.
“It also opens up a line of communication,” she said, “If I’m secure enough to say ‘show me how you do that,’ they are more willing to ask for help.”
“Students have consistently praised her classroom lectures and discussions, and her clinical expertise is always a reflection of the latest advancements in pediatric nursing,” said Sandy Macmurdo, a Southeastern instructor. “Her students admire both her vast knowledge and her ability to impart pediatric skills.”
To augment classroom and technology-based learning, Pryor has also been involved with providing opportunities for nursing students to gain practical, hands-on experience. Last fall, she helped organize a hurricane relief effort at the River Center in Baton Rouge using Southeastern student volunteers to give immunizations to displaced children.
Pryor said the favorite part of her career includes the people she works with as well as the kind of work she does. “I can’t say enough about the people at Southeastern,” she said, “When I started as a young teacher, my mentors were always giving me ideas and supporting my off-the-wall ideas.
“I thoroughly enjoy teaching,” she continued. Every semester is a new adventure. I always wanted to go into an area where I could work with people and could help in some form. I was very torn between education and nursing. So I combined the two. It’s been a nice meld for me.”