On the Other Side of East Texas

Nursing Associate Professor Learns While Teaching Overseas in China

Publication Date: 01/17/2020

When Dr. Pamela Lake wanted to experience teaching outside East Texas, she didn’t realize how far she would travel. The Jacksonville native and associate professor in the UT Tyler School of Nursing said she always wanted to teach internationally, and earlier this year, she took the opportunity to do so.

Her curiosity to teach abroad peaked when she was privileged the past few years to meet, study with and learn from international scholars from Korea and China who visited the University and the School of Nursing.

“These experiences were very positive and taught me to see nursing through the perspective of professionals from other countries,” she said. “Traveling to other countries myself seemed to be the logical next step in order to expand my research and educational circle.”

After a call for School of Nursing faculty to teach in China, she decided to take the leap. Lake was chosen out of all University applicants to present research this past summer at the Third Qilu International Young Nursing Scholars Forum at Shandong University.

“Too often we are content to stay within our own little box or comfort zone. Taking chances and doing things that make us a little nervous are needed if we want to grow and learn,” Lake said.

While in China, she gave nursing education presentations on how to prepare BSN graduates to be Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) nurses. EBP is the conscientious use of best available research evidence, integrated with one’s own clinical expertise and patient values and preferences, to improve healthcare outcomes for individuals and communities.

“As nurses, we are called to care for patients from all nationalities and cultures,” Lake said. “We must learn more from each other in order to care for this global patient population and to teach new nurses to be prepared for the challenges that creates.”

Even though she was the professor with knowledge to share, she said she was also being taught. She learned how uncomfortable it can feel to be in a situation where you cannot communicate verbally with other people. She also remembers the feeling of vulnerability when she was not able to hail a taxi to return her to her hotel and unable to read the signs when she was alone in the airports or train stations.

“This vulnerability must be magnified in medical settings where a patient and family are suffering but are unable to communicate with the people responsible for treating them and returning them to a state of health and wellness,” Lake said. “My vulnerability was lessened by the kindness of strangers.

“A smile speaks volumes in any language,” she said. “We can learn by being together with people who are different than we are and by learning together.”

Serving UT Tyler since 2004, Lake holds a master of science in nursing education and Ph.D. in nursing, both from the University. She is a member of the Texas Nursing Association, American Nursing Association and Sigma Theta Tau International.

Her teaching interests include caring science, nursing education, evidence-based decision making, educational communication and holistic health assessment.

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UT Tyler