Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The Predicament of Nursing Education: The Faculty Census

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The Predicament of Nursing Education: The Faculty Census

Article excerpt

In a time when enrollments appear to be turning around, and measures taken to address the nursing shortage are attaining some inroads, we may not have the faculty to prepare the next generation of nurses.

With this issue, the NLN unveils information from the 2002 Faculty Census. While elements of the report will provide interesting insights, and the full report will substantiate many elements that we have feared for some time, the bottom line of this document is that nursing education faces a serious predicament. In a time when enrollments appear to be turning around, and measures taken to address the nursing shortage are attaining some inroads, we may not have the faculty to prepare the next generation of nurses.

For example, although nurse educators have long known that the ranks of part-time faculty were expanding, the extent of this trend was considered variable. However, here it is spelled out that the ratio of parttime faculty to full-time faculty has been increasing to its present level of one part-time faculty member for every 1.7 who are employed full time. While the impact this trend is difficult to estimate, it is evident that the burden of the ongoing work of the academy increases for full-time faculty proportionately to the addition of part-time members. Furthermore, without strong central support and rigorous orientation programs, the responsibility for coaching these part-timers becomes an onerous task for the full-time employees.

Another area of concern is the reported vacancy rate within faculty ranks. Each type of program leading to licensure as an RN identifies unfilled budgeted positions. However, in light of the recent decline in enrollment in these programs, it is well known that many nursing schools lost positions. Thus, the identified vacancy rates reflect only vacancies in the current level of budgeted positions, not in the number of faculty needed to respond to the increases in enrollment, nor the number of faculty needed to conduct the work of the total academy.

On further analysis, it becomes evident that schools have been using part-time faculty to supplement their full-time complement and reduce their vacancy rates. Understandable though this may be, it is essential that nursing schools continue to have sufficient resources in full-time faculty to address the leadership, scholarship, and academic goals of the institution.

One final area of concern relates to the distribution of nursing faculty by rank. …

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