The Program for Educators in Health Professions brings together scholars from across the globe annually. In this blog post, we interview Jennifer Graber, EdD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP, associate professor and associate dean of academic affairs and practice initiatives in the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware, about her experience in the course.

Harvard Macy Institute: How would you describe your personal and professional background?

For more than 25 years, I have dedicated my career to being a nurse and an advanced practice nurse. I started out with my bachelor's degree and immediately went back for my master's to become an advanced practice clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric mental health. Following that, I pursued and obtained my doctoral degree, paving the way into my journey of teaching nursing students. Over the years, I have balanced my roles as an advanced practice nurse and an educator, creating valuable experience in both realms. Currently, I teach students at both graduate and undergraduate levels.

Harvard Macy Institute: What led you to apply to our Program for Educators in Health Professions program?

My decision to apply to the program was influenced by my senior associate dean, who had taken the course herself and highly recommended it to me. She had phenomenal things to say about the program, and considering my recent shift towards more leadership responsibilities as an associate dean, she thought that it would be an excellent course to sharpen my education leadership and administrative skills.

Harvard Macy Institute: How would you describe your overall experience in this program?

My overall experience was great because the course directors were able to lead and create a sense of community. Through the incorporation of breakout rooms, group work, and discussions, the faculty fostered an environment that was great for talking amongst one another. Having peer support and small groups significantly enhanced the experience. You really feel like you receive one-on-one individualized attention. I also loved how the course featured renowned speakers and experts who consistently delivered valuable perspectives, which added another layer to my overall learning experience.  

Harvard Macy Institute: What were the two most important takeaways that you gained from the program?

First, despite my teaching experience, the course reinforced the idea that there is always something new to learn, even for people who think they are an expert. Second is how the program's structure brought together educators with varying levels of expertise, which made for an interesting dynamic. While I brought considerable experience to the table, it was very nice to interact with some people who were brand new to teaching. I really enjoyed being there and offering advice and support for those starting their educational journeys. This experience not only allowed me to pass on my wisdom but also provided the opportunity to connect with new perspectives.

Harvard Macy Institute: How do you feel this program has impacted your behavior within your professional work? Can you provide an example?

This program has undeniably impacted my work. Rather than feeling like I need to answer a question immediately, I take a little bit more time when answering someone. Now, I prioritize gathering all relevant information to make sure that I am answering questions fully and correctly. The program has also taught me the importance of helping people to find their own way. Instead of simply offering direct answers, I learned to guide others in the right direction. 

Harvard Macy Institute: How is this course different than other continuing medical education or professional development courses you have taken?

I have taken other year-long development programs like this, and this one is different because of the interactions with faculty. The sessions had a one-on-one feel, which offered a sense of individual attention. Some of the other programs I have taken did not have that level of interaction. This program stands out because scholars who have previously completed the program may have an opportunity to return as faculty in a subsequent year, which is what I am doing now. Overall, what makes this program exceptional is the faculty's presence and expertise.  

Harvard Macy Institute: Would you recommend the Program for Educators in Health Professions to a colleague?

I have already recommended this program to colleagues! It is a great program to learn how to be a health professional educator from varying perspectives. I strongly recommend this course to individuals stepping into a new leadership position or those new to education.

Did you know that the Harvard Macy Institute Community Blog has had more than 380 posts? Previous blog posts have interviewed other past Program for Educator scholars including Karina Clemmons and Charles Charman.


Jennifer Graber

Jennifer Graber, EdD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP (Educators ‘23) is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Practice Initiatives in the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware. Jennifer’s areas of professional interest include psychiatric mental health nursing teaching strategies, mentoring and work-life dynamics, well-being, and professional role transition. Jennifer can be contacted via email.