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What the Work of an Adult Educational Teacher Is Like

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"I am an educational consultant hired by hospitals, medical manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and colleges to provide continuing education to people who work in the health professions. My students are people working as nurses or in other health fields such as respiratory therapy, radiologic technology, and physical therapy. They take my courses to keep up with new advances in medicine so they can take better care of their patients.

"Some professions require this type of continuing education after people graduate from college; some states require the courses in order to hold a professional license. So, some people come to my courses because it is required; others come because they want to learn new things and be as up-to-date as possible.

"When a client asks me to develop an educational program, I ask them what it is they think the nurses (for example) need to know to understand the product (or drug) and use it safely. Then, I do a lot of research. I go on the Internet and look for articles that have been published about the same topic. I need to be an expert in the area before I can give an educational program.



"From the Internet, I get only the author, title, and name of the journal where the article is published. I have to go to the library and find all the articles. Then I have to read them and study them to understand all the information.

"After I have done all the research, I write an outline of what I want to teach. I review that with the client to make sure nothing is missing. Then I design slides that I will use while I give my presentation. The final step of the planning process is to write a summary that is copied and given to each person who attends the seminar. That's how they take the information home. We call it a handout, and it has the summary of all the information and a complete list of all the articles I reviewed on the topic.

"Then, I usually have to travel to a different city to give the presentation. Sometimes it is close to Connecticut, where I live; sometimes I have to fly across the country to California. I usually arrive the day before the seminar. I check the room where I will be speaking to see what it looks like and if it is set up properly. I try to go to bed early and get a good night of sleep, but I don't always sleep well in the hotels.

"The next day, I get to the room early before I speak. I double-and triple-check everything to make sure there are no problems. Then I greet people who come for the seminar. Finally, I do the presentation, and afterward, I meet with people who have questions or want more information. Then, it's usually off to the airport to go home.

"I speak for audiences as small as fifty and as large as one thousand. The rest of the time, I do office work. I spend a lot of time with e-mail and on the Internet, because that's one way I keep up with new advances. There is a lot of paperwork required. My clients need it to make sure the educational programs I design are high-quality and not sales pitches for products or services.

"I work on average about sixty hours a week… usually six days. I work in an office in my home when I am not traveling. I try to work as an ER nurse one evening a week; I spend about fifty hours a week on my consulting business."

THE UPSIDES

"I would never use the word boring to describe what I do. I am on the cutting edge of new advances in health care and am always learning new things. I can't imagine a better job. I love the fact that I am there when brand new drugs and devices are being developed. I get excited about these interesting new things, and I love sharing that excitement with the people who come to hear me speak."

THE DOWNSIDES

"The downside is the travel. I have been doing it now for sixteen years, and it isn't glamorous. A lot of people think it is, but most people who travel on business don't like it very much. I go to a lot of the same cities over and over. And, while I love what I do, I would like to work fewer hours. I think almost anyone who is self-employed struggles with the same dilemma."

SALARIES

"The earning power is all over the map. Less experienced health professionals just starting out can make $50 per hour; other, more experienced nurses who are well known can make $2,000 per day. It is very, very individualized, and a lot of it depends on whom you work for. When I do programs for a local community college, I get $25 per hour for classroom teaching. When I worked full-time in the emergency department as a nurse, I made $28 per hour. Overall, I make about the same amount of money as I would if I were a nurse executive in a hospital or other agency, about $58,000 a year."
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