Classroom Creative: Meet UVA-Teaching Award Winner Sarah Craig
Nursing is a field that naturally lends itself to empathy. Sarah Craig’s experience as a first-generation college student taught her to find ways to support students’ success, part of which is “creating a safe learning environment where students feel valued,” she wrote.
Craig—an assistant professor of nursing and director of the School's award-winning Clinical Nurse Leader program—was one of nine UVA faculty chosen from among the University's more than 2,400 professors to earn an All-UVA Teaching Award from Provost Ian Baucomb in May 2022.
"Here at the UVA School of Nursing, we believe that everyone participating in activities is intelligent, capable, cares about doing their best and wants to improve.”Prof. Sarah Craig's statment before each class she teaches
Early on in the pandemic, Craig—no stranger to technology, being the first to bring simulation into her classroom at the School—made some adjustments to online teaching. To counteract “the digital loneliness imposed on us” by COVID-19, Craig began each class with, “Here at the UVA School of Nursing we believe that everyone participating in activities is intelligent, capable, cares about doing their best and wants to improve.”
She found it was "a small statement with a big impact. I focused on role-modeling this statement in class and on clinical rounds. Providing structure, motivation, and respect for all encouraged the cohort to support each other’s success during this difficult time.”
Early in the pandemic, Craig and others realized nursing students could not be exposed to COVID in the hospital. She was instrumental in helping prepare students for when they could return to providing patient care, for example, on how to use full personal protective equipment.
“Almost overnight,” wrote her nominator, Beth Epstein, associate professor and associate dean for academic programs, “she drafted a comprehensive teaching plan, including thorough simulations and videos. She was a key player in orchestrating and executing the enormous task of readying our students in a very short period of time.”
Several years ago, Craig recognized the importance of immersive learning for student competence and led the integration of the simulation-based learning in the School of Nursing. She designed “innovative simulation experiences for our students across multiple programs” and spearheaded the creation of a Clinical Skills Intensive lab in the Clinical Simulation Learning Center.
In early 2021, after nearly a year of lockdown and classes on Zoom, Craig, along with fellow faculty members Ryne Ackard, Bethany Coyne, and Emma Mitchell, developed vaccination education and training for pre-licensure students through simulated practice scenarios as part of their community health clinical rotations. As a result, students were able to assist with vaccine education and deployment the spring after the first COVID vaccines arrived.
Craig—a clinical nurse specialist, critical care nurse, and one of two nursing faculty to be honored with UVA awards in 2022—earned a master's in nursing degree in 2010, and a PhD in nursing from UVA School of Nursing in 2014.