The Experiences of Faculty Teaching in an Innovative Clinical Immersion Nursing Curriculum

Article excerpt

Abstract A lack of research exists regarding the impact of substantive curriculum reform on faculty teaching and attitudes. This report of an interpretive phenomenological study of one group of baccalaureate nursing faculty undergoing implementation of an innovative curriculum revealed that the curricular structure and program philosophy offered multiple new challenges. These included the integration of multiple concurrent learning activities, expansion of simulation, and a renewed focus on student assessment. The study design used Heideggerian hermeneutics, a reflexive approach to text analysis of interviews of seven full-time faculty who had worked in the school's traditional curriculum prior to the implementation of the clinical immersion model. The research offers insights into faculty adaptation to curriculum change and its effect on teaching and instruction. The results of this study may assist other schools contemplating or in the process of similar overarching program reforms.

Key Words Clinical Immersion--Curriculum Innovation--Evaluation Nursing Faculty and Change

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WORKFORCE SHORTAGES AND HEALTH CARE FINANCING WOES FACTOR INTO THE REFORM EFFORTS CURRENTLY UNDER WAY IN HEALTH PROFESSIONS EDUCATION. Nursing education programs are impelled to respond to expanded enrollments through the efficient use of resources and management of the educational process while maintaining, if not enhancing, the quality of graduates. The process is complicated by a shortage of qualified faculty (National League for Nursing [NLN], 2010), inadequate clinical resources to support increased needs in clinical education (Tanner, 2006), and a general diminishment of educational resources (US Department of Education, 2006).

The NLN issued a position statement on curriculum innovation that challenged nurse educators to critically examine their programs and find ways to adapt to change changes without compromising the quality of graduates (2003). The charge was brought into focus through a task group-issued statement that qualified, in part, the definition of innovation: "Using knowledge to create ways and services that are new (or perceived as new) in order to transform systems. It requires deconstructing ... long-held assumptions and values (Task Group, 2005, p. 5). The NLN and other leading educational reformers have called on educators not only to appraise traditional methods of teaching and learning, but to conduct research on new models of curriculum in the effort to build a scientific repository of research in nursing and interdisciplinary health-related education (Institute of Medicine, 2001; NLN, 2005), the impetus for this study.

Context for the Study This research project, to investigate the experiences of faculty following implementation of an innovative curriculum, focused on innovation at an East Coast baccalaureate school of nursing. The school had undertaken program reform after concluding that its current system was no longer meeting the needs of students, faculty, or the department within the larger university. It was having difficulty recruiting and retaining faculty due to job mobility and retirements, and the current curriculum was proving costly and burdensome for existing faculty due to clinical course demands and student volumes. The time allowed for scholarly work and service, a source for dissatisfaction among faculty, was unacceptable according to university standards.

The nursing curriculum at this time consisted of simultaneous didactic and practice experiences over two years. It was typical of mainstream nursing education and had been considered optimal for student learning. With enrollments spiking due to popular and political pressure to expand seats and without the availability of adequate additional resources, faculty were charged with creating a program that would not only meet current needs but better minister to an increasingly diverse student population. …

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