Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Investing in the Future of Nursing Education: A Cry for Action

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Investing in the Future of Nursing Education: A Cry for Action

Article excerpt

TODAY, AS, THE COUNTRY FACES A CRITICAL SHORTAGE OF PROFESSIONAL NURSES, THE DECLINING POPULATION OF NURSE EDUCATORS THREATENS THE QUALITY OF NURSING EDUCATIO.THIS ISA CRISIS THAT MUST BE ADDRESSED. * The consumer revolution in health care as we know it began in the 1960s, when President John F Kennedy presented a message to Congress that included four basic human rights - the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard (1). During

this same decade, a shortage of physicians prompted the American Nursing Association's (ANA) "Statement on Graduate Education in Nursing," which emphasized an urgent need to shift from the functional preparation of master's prepard nurses to an almost exclusively clinical specialization and practice (2). In an effort to provide for the needs of the public, politicians, and physicians, the ANA encouraged nurses to expand their role to include responsibilities that had previously been in the medical domain (3).

ABSTRACT: Health care reform, which began in the 1990s, is market driven by a society that demands accountability for quality, safety, and competence from providers. Nurse educators are key to assuring that nurses possess these attributes, but there is a growing shortage of qualified nursing faculty.The author argues that the need for developing nurses as faculty educators must be reawakened in graduate level nursing education.

In the 1970s, the American Hospital Association's Patient's Bill of Rights encouraged patient involvement in their own health care decisions and increased the demand for the best educated and most qualified practitioners (4). Consumer involvement has continued to grow, aided by the mass media and the nature of the information age in which we live.

The decline in enrollments in nursing schools is in sharp contrast to the escalating demand for nurses to meet health care and health promotion needs. To add to this dilemma, the average age of a registered nurse in the United States is currently 44, and high numbers of RN retirements are projected in the next 10 to 15 years. This shortage is affecting increasing numbers of cities and regions across the nation (5).

Many expect that the number of applicants to nursing schools will increase as word of the growing demand for nurses spreads, but will there be an adequate number of doctorally prepared nursing faculty to teach the much needed nursing workforce of the future? (6). Concern about the future availability of master's and doctorally prepared nurse educators was raised in a 1983 ANA report. Recently, others have indicated that the problem has intensified (5,7).

Factors contributing to the faculty shortage include the aging of present staff (5,8), decreased numbers of doctorally prepared nurses, doctorally prepared nurses who choose not to teach, and a lack of emphasis on educational tracks in master's and doctoral nursing programs. The result is inadequately prepared nurse educators and a decreasing pool of individuals pursuing the nursing profession (9-11).

Just as nursing is a practice, so too is teaching. Both professions call on practitioners to accept certain responsibilities and obligations. The problem today is not only that faculty shortages exist, but that there are too few faculty who are educated as teachers, let alone experienced as teachers of nursing. The transition from practitioner to educator necessitates learning an entirely different body of knowledge. "Becoming a nurse educator is not an additive process; that is, it is not a matter of adding the role of educator to that of the nurse. It requires a change in knowledge, skills, behaviors, and values to prepare for the new assimilated roles, settings, and goals shared by new reference groups" (12, p. 94). To graduate competent professional nurses, competence in practice and teaching are essential requirements for faculty.

Toward Effectiveness in Teaching The old English root of teaching, taecan, means to show, to instruct, or, in more literal terms, to provide signs or outward expressions of something one knows. …

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