Lisa Prince-Clark, DNP, has the phrase “Teaching: not in it for the income but for the outcome” on her LinkedIn page.
She has been a nurse at Augusta University Medical Center since 1999 and an assistant professor in the College of Nursing since 2015. To her, nursing is caring, and whether on the hospital floor or in the classroom, compassion is her core value.
Prince-Clark said her passion for both professions fuels her daily and she tries to portray that in conversations with patients, students and colleagues.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what color skin you have. I’m just passionate about teaching and whatever knowledge that I can give,” she said. “I go about teaching nurses about what’s in your heart and how you feel about nursing. It’s not just coming to work and saying it’s a job and looking for a check. It is compassion, love and loyalty to what you’re doing.”
Example set by mother, mentors
Prince-Clark grew up in Jamaica-Queens, New York, with her two siblings and her mother, who was a medical assistant. Her mother was a positive role model who provided the kind of structure and compassion Prince-Clark exemplifies in her interactions today.
Her mother always taught her children to do what’s right and stay on top of their studies, which resulted in all three children becoming top students.
Prince-Clark is an alumnus of Augusta University’s College of Nursing. Charlotte Price, EdD, and Jean Pawl, PhD, were instrumental in who she has become today. Price, and later Pawl, chaired the LPN transition program, and Prince-Clark considers both mentors.
“I always wanted to be like Dr. Pawl, who actually hired me,” Prince-Clark said. “She started as my professor in medical surgical nursing, and she said I always raised my hand in class and always wanted to be involved, and I told her I wanted to be like her.”
Whether she’s teaching students during clinical rotations or going over examples in the classroom, Prince-Clark always displays compassion. She and Tamara McKethan, MSN, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, designed the “Success and Resilience in Nursing Education” seminar for junior students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
Part of that seminar focused on how to best implement the university’s current strategic plan as well as Dean Tanya Sudia’s focus on student success. Prince-Clark suggested they highlight the core values of the university and teach those to the students. Along with spearheading courses and interventions within the College of Nursing, she hopes to promote innovation in teaching, outreach to students experiencing academic challenges and mentorship of new clinical faculty.
Supporting and empowering students
When College of Nursing students Lillian Arnold and Briana Jackson first met Prince-Clark, they came away with the same impression: she was confident and compassionate about her job as a nurse and assistant professor, and she wanted to pass along as much information as possible.
“My first time meeting her was in the hospital at clinical. Before she let us tend to our assigned patient for the day, she thoroughly went through a head-to-toe assessment on a patient and reminded us to always have compassion, and to ‘treat every patient with dignity, like they’re your family member,’” said Jackson, who is part of the Class of 2023 and Augusta’s Black Student Nurses Society president. “She pushed us to take on more responsibility and gave us freedom to critically think through situations on our own.”
Arnold said Prince-Clark, who is her clinical instructor, was excited for the new students to be in a clinical setting, especially for those who have never been in a hospital. She conveyed how she wants students to learn as much as possible during clinical and to not be afraid to ask questions.
“We are here to learn, and I appreciate professors who want us to ask questions,” Arnold said. “She makes sure we are understanding material she is teaching to us. She wants us to learn and succeed, and I really appreciate the compassion she has for her students.”
Jackson said Prince-Clark always reminds them they are not just nursing students. They are competent and have the ability to make an impact on patients, just like anyone else on the health care team.
Jackson also mentioned Prince-Clark takes the time to ensure they understand why and how a particular medication or lab value can significantly change a patient’s status. She encourages students to not only understand the material, but also to comprehend information, fostering critical thinking skills.
“Clinical is such a valuable time for nursing students to put our hands-on skills to work and to essentially practice ‘being the nurse.’ She fully allowed us to have that experience by telling us to think of her as our assistant. She said, ‘Delegate anything you don’t have time to do to me; I don’t mind helping.’
“During our post-conference before we left the hospital, she always began her conversation by engaging us in inquiry-based questions that guided us through self-reflection. Dr. Prince-Clark then identifies one task that she observed as exceptional and gives us genuine praise by saying ‘gold star,’” Jackson said. “Receiving the compliment of a gold star is always such a rewarding and gratifying feeling.”
Strong foundation for future nurses
Arnold said Prince-Clark contributes to her passion for nursing because she has seen how dedicated she is to nursing. For Jackson, Prince-Clark has been an important part of the evolution of her own passion for nursing while fostering her desire for knowledge. She finds it inspiring that in all the years Prince-Clark has been practicing, she has remained passionate and dedicated, continuously raising the standard of nursing practice.
“She encourages us to always use evidence-based practice, which fosters a desire to continue learning,” Jackson said. “I began this semester lacking confidence in my therapeutic communication, clinical skills and critical thinking ability. With her encouragement and guidance, I gained confidence in my skills. I began clustering care, piecing together information and inquiring information from different members of the health care team when I noticed something was wrong. I can definitively say that Dr. Prince-Clark has helped enrich many skills that I have acquired. She truly encompasses the nurse I aspire to be in the future.”
Prince-Clark is writing a guide to success in the clinical faculty role. She has co-created “Resilience and Nursing Success,” a course for new undergraduate nursing students. The course is designed to mitigate the chances of academic failure among nursing students. She regularly works to identify students at risk for academic challenges and designs interventions to support their success.
“The things that I’ve learned as a nurse is being competent, being a team player and having a good work ethic. I feel like I’m giving back to these students because if they don’t have a good foundation, I think they might get a little lost,” Prince-Clark said. “As a nurse, the reason why I do what I do is I want to be able to look at you in in the hospital and I know that I prepared you to be a nurse. I know that you’re going to take care of me.
“I’m giving back to them all of my knowledge. When I go into a room, I’m showing them how to do an assessment or how to look at a patient. I’m adding a little bit of my story of my interactions. When they ask me what I did, I show them how to be organized and prepared. Those things that I’ve learned, I give back to them and that strengthens them.”