Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Two-Year Institution Part-Time Nurse Faculty Experiences during Role Transition and Identity Development: A Phenomenological Study

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Two-Year Institution Part-Time Nurse Faculty Experiences during Role Transition and Identity Development: A Phenomenological Study

Article excerpt

Prelicensure two-year institution nursing programs in the United States are experiencing a significant shortage of full-time faculty to teach their current students. This faculty shortage has an impact on the nursing shortage and student admission numbers (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010; Davidson & Rourke, 2012; Forbes, Hickey, & White, 2010). According to the National League for Nursing (NLN, 2016) Annual Survey of Schools of Nursing Academic Year 2013-2014, 25 percent of practical nursing/vocational nursing and 28 percent of associate degree nursing programs reported that lack of faculty was a main obstacle to expanding student enrollment. To address the shortage of full-time faculty for nursing programs at two-year institutions, administrators frequently hire expert clinicians to fill part-time faculty positions in lab and/or clinical courses (Davidson & Rourke, 2012; Forbes et al., 2010). Generally, these nurses have little formal training or education on the pedagogy of effective student learning (Davidson & Rourke, 2012; McDonald, 2010; Schoening, 2013).


When nurses begin careers as educators at four-year institutions, research has shown that they experience a role transition process from their identities as nurses to their identities as instructors (Davidson & Rourke, 2012; McDonald, 2010; Schoening, 2013). Few studies have explored the role transition and identity development experiences of part-time nursing faculty working at two-year institutions.

The nurse educator role is recognized as a specialized nursing role that requires a nurse to be competent in clinical practice and equipped with specialized pedagogical knowledge and skills to prepare nursing students to practice safe, high-quality patient care (Billings & Halstead, 2016; Davidson & Rourke, 2012). The diverse pedagogical skills required by nurse educators in the academic setting have been defined by several nursing program accrediting agencies and professional organizations. For example, the NLN (2013) identifies eight core competencies that promote excellence in the nurse educator role. According to the NLN, nurse educators must be held accountable to facilitate learning, facilitate learner development and socialization, use assessment and evaluation strategies, participate in curriculum design and evaluation of program outcomes, function as change agents and leaders, pursue continuous quality improvement in the nurse educator role and engage in scholarship, and function within the educational environment.

The students in nursing education programs in two-year institutions differ from students in four-year institutions and present specific challenges for faculty. Many are nontraditional students who are less academically prepared than students in four-year institutions. They have diverse life experiences and often struggle to fit the demands of their educational requirements with multiple role commitments, such as employment (part time and full time) and family commitments (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2014; Levin, Kater, & Wagoner, 2011). Therefore, it is critical that part-time faculty be educationally prepared to plan and modify teaching strategies that facilitate effective student learning for a population of students.

Successful professional identity formation occurs for individuals when they develop attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, and learn the knowledge and skills that support the roles and responsibilities of being that professional (Johnson, Corwin, Wilson, & Young, 2012; Trede, Macklin, & Bridges, 2012). Given the importance of professional identity formation and its positive effects on work satisfaction and retention (Levin & Hernandez, 2014; Trede at al., 2012), further research is needed to explore the perceptions of part-time nurse faculty at two-year institutions as they experience the role transition process.


Understanding part-time faculty experiences during the role transition from their expert clinician identities to their instructor identities will enable nursing program leaders in two-year institutions to better prepare part-time faculty to successfully transition to their new academic role and be able to facilitate effective student learning in a diverse student population. …

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