TedTalks in Nursing Education: A Teaching Tool

11/27/17  Portland, OR

A new approach to teaching benefits students in the way they engage in their learning.

Students participating in TedTalks for nursing education.


On November 13 and 14, 2017, Monmouth senior nursing students presented their TED Talks (27 in total) focusing on Nursing Leadership. Part of NRS 412 – Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Delivery Systems the school used this innovative way to teach students how to present their projects. Students presented on diverse topics:

  • Social Determinants of Health and the Impact on an Individuals Health (focus on LGBTQ community)
  • Preventing Bystander Guilt in Caring for Vulnerable Populations
  • Improving quality of care for the inmate patient population while in hospital
  • On the Front Lines of Prevention: Nurses Can Lead the Charge for Increasing National Immunization Rates
  • Nursing Role in Natural Disasters and Emergency Preparedness
  • Imposter Syndrome: The Impact on the Assertive Communication of the Emerging Nurse Leader

Patti Warkentin, instructor says, “The TED Talk engages students in actively envisioning, researching, and articulating their nursing leadership impact. Topic selections are diverse, emerging from professional passions fueled by course content, concepts, and clinical experiences. As the students present their TED Talks, they realize the impact of their nursing leadership voice. The experience their ability to educate, empower, and ignite the passions of other emerging nursing professionals.” 

One of the main goals of the assignment is to fuel students’ interest in a subject they are most engaged with. The assignment instructions include information on Google’s philosophical approach as a way to frame the assignment:

Google’s “20% Time” is a philosophical approach where Google’s employees spend 20% of their time working on ideas and projects that interest the individual employee. They are encouraged to explore anything other than their normal day-to-day job (von Jan 2012). The results of this philosophical approach are evidenced by such products as Gmail. . . The purpose of this TED Talk – Nursing Leadership assignment is to allow students to become leaders, innovators, and guides in their learning. The final presentation must include nursing leadership within the healthcare context. By the end of the term, 27 students had a 10-minute TED-type talk ready for presentation.

Here’s what a few students said about how they chose their topic:

“I immediately knew that Imposter Syndrome would be my topic, as someone who has experienced this, and as a witness to how my peers experience this phenomenon, I assessed a need to address Imposter Syndrome with graduation looming. Envisioning oneself as a competent and confident -soon to be- registered nurse is challenging, add leader to the mix and recoil happens almost immediately. During the first or second week of the term, theory instructor, Patti Warkentin, probed, “who feels like a leader?” and very few hands went up. I reflected later, and I think it may have to do with how we recognized ourselves internally rather than our actual capability to lead, in both formal and informal ways.” -Xochitl Gutierrez

“Just before school started I closely followed the national news story about Alex Wubbels, the Utah nurse who was wrongfully arrested for denying to allow a police officer to obtain a blood sample from one of her unconscious patients. I was truly inspired by her unwavering commitment to ethical and moral nursing practice. A few weeks later in lecture, I learned that fewer than one in ten healthcare workers will speak up or express their full concerns when faced with an ethical dilemma. Upon further research, I learned how problematic this reality is, and realized just how heroic nurse Wubbels’ actions were. I knew immediately that my TEDTalk would be about preventing bystander guilt in nursing.” – Erica Davis

“I enjoyed bringing together all of the current research on the topic of increasing influenza immunization uptake rates and coalescing it into an easy-to-remember tool to help me and my fellow future RNs address immunization hesitancy among our patients. The TED talk format also provided an opportunity to infuse a bit of humor into my topic, which may otherwise have been a bit dry (to everyone except nurses, that is).” – Amy Harding

Here’s what a few students said about this unique approach:

“This style of teaching gave me and my peers the freedom to choose a topic that was personally meaningful. As a result, the passion that went into the development of each message was evident in each speech. As a group, our topics were diverse (from LGBTQ equity in healthcare to ageism in society; self care for nurses, to effective immunization promotion), but each TEDTalk was engaging and made learning from my peers exciting. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have been part of such powerful work.” – Erica Davis

“Researching and learning more about Imposter Syndrome and how to overcome these feelings, was beneficial in many ways. For one, I am not alone, and my peers are not either, outwardly confident, intelligent, and successful people share these same feelings as well. What I find most beneficial about this assignment is learning about the nursing leadership topics of interest to my peers, their passions, excite me even more on how to advance our profession and enhance the care of the people we serve. Overall this style of teaching was beneficial to my learning, broadening my interests in nursing leadership topics.”- Xochitl Gutierrez

“Through my research I learned the importance of LGBTQ* health disparities and the social determinants of health that impact this community. Through the process of presenting my TED talk I learned the importance of finding confidence in my own public speaking abilities. This was not easy for me as I do not enjoy public speaking and am often very nervous to do so. Being that this topic was a passion of mine, it made me feel more comfortable standing up and delivering my message. I believe that this style of teaching will benefit me in the future as I emerge into my own nursing practice and face more situations of public speaking.“ - Keri Joyce

“As a direct result of doing this project and listening to the interesting and inspirational talks of my colleagues, I came away feeling empowered - like I, as an RN, have the knowledge, skills, passion, and awareness to make a difference in the lives of my patients outside of meeting their basic healthcare needs. I also became aware of how critical it is for me to effectively practice self-care if I hope to effectively meet the needs of my patients for years to come.” – Amy Harding