Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

IMPLEMENTING A New Faculty Workload Formula

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

IMPLEMENTING A New Faculty Workload Formula

Article excerpt


The severe shortage of nursing faculty in recent years has led to changes in faculty mix, with nursing programs relying on increased numbers of faculty members prepared at the master's level for coverage of nursing courses. To address the impact of these changes on faculty workload, one nursing program established a Workload Task Force to develop a workload formula that would recognize teaching, scholarship, and service contributions of all faculty members and help ensure equity in workload assignments. Details of the workload formula are offered, along with recommendations for gaining the support of faculty and ensuring transparency in implementation.

Key Words Faculty Job Satisfaction - Faculty Workload - Workload Formula - Workload Equity - Faculty Shortage

EVEN IN THE FACE OFTHE CURRENT NURSING SHORTAGE, nursing education H programs are turning away qualified students because of inadequate num bers of nurse faculty. The severe shortage of nurse faculty has led to changes in faculty mix. Increased numbers of faculty are working part-time, andincreased numbers of faculty who are prepared at the master's level are working full-time. * At our college of nursing, changes in teaching responsibilities for different types of faculty resulted in the decision to examine faculty workload. Faculty prepared at the master's level were primarily teaching clinical courses and large didactic classes to undergraduate students, and those prepared at the doctoral level were primarily teaching smaller, graduate classes. Our goal was to determine whether some faculty were overloaded with responsibilities and whether a new formula was needed to distribute the workload more equitably.

Background The perception of workload equity is a significant variable related to faculty job satisfaction. For nurse educators, comparing teaching responsibilities with scholarly productivity is incongruous, like comparing apples with oranges. Nurse administrators are often pressured by their university systems to measure the successes of their faculty members by a reward system focused on research, the university benchmark (1). Ironically, faculty members carrying the heaviest teaching loads may see their contributions as undervalued, and those who are the most productive in research and scholarship may feel that the time needed to invest in their work is unappreciated by colleagues. Little has been written on how faculty workload issues can be fairly considered, how all faculty responsibilities can be valued and appropriately recognized, and how job satisfaction among nurse faculty can be improved while workloads are made fair and equitable and disparities are reduced.

Roberts and Turnbull, in a survey of 291 nurse educators from Australian universities, found that "a high teaching workload can constrain scholarly productivity" (1, p. 289). High teaching workloads involved heavy responsibility in course coordination, teach- ing, especially clinical teaching, and university service. Respondents noted that in the midst of the nurse faculty shortage, two important factors increased their workload: budgeting constraints and the recruitment of international students, who needed a greater investment of time due to language and cultural barriers. Roberts and Turnbull concluded that some attempt must be made to "quantify workloads objectively" and then use that information to formulate fair and equitable faculty assignments that would address both teaching needs and research requirements (1, p. 291).

Favorable perceptions of workload may result in increased job satisfaction. Voignier, Hermann, and Brouse reported that the development of a teaching workload formula improved faculty's perception of their workload as "more equitable and manageable" (2, p. 38). Doughty, May, Butell, and Tong (3) used the Moos Work Environment Scale in one liberal arts college to assess nurse faculty perceptions of their work environment. …

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