Future of nursing: nurse educators

teacher-applesIn the September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Nursing, Donna E. Shalala, chairperson of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Initiative on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine, contributed an article on the crucial role of nurses in meaningful and effective healthcare reform. The article reached out to healthcare professionals for “innovative ideas that address important nursing issues, such as the nurse shortage and regulatory and reimbursement barriers to nursing, and which can help transform the way Americans receive care.”

Here is one perspective from a former nurse and future nurse educator, Grace Decken:

“With the nursing shortage and competitive waiting list for nursing school openings, I feel it would be advantageous to utilize experienced nurses, who have taught in a classroom or clinical setting regardless of their degree levels, to help instruct in nursing programs. One of the biggest drawbacks to the shortage is the fact that there are not enough instructors to teach. As an experienced Registered Nurse, I’m interested and willing to assist in helping educate future nurses, but I don’t have the qualified credentials to teach at the college level. I’m interested in pursuing the required degree, but financial barriers impede this opportunity for me right now. It would be an asset if institutions providing a nursing education could assist experienced nurses financially with a contract stipulating commitment to teach at the institution for at least three years upon completion of a program. I believe this could be one way to help alleviate the shortage of nurses as well as create more available spots at nursing schools. If we can educate more nurses, then we can have more nurses to care for patients.”

What are your innovative ideas for the future of nursing? We know you have many. Email us at hello@scrubsmag.com.

Grace Decken is Vice President of the Health Science Technology Education Division of the Association for Career and Technical Education. She is currently the Health Science instructor at Daniel Morgan Tech Center, and has been teaching for more than 10 years. In her previous positions, she was a Charge Home Care RN and Charge RN for Mary Black Hospital, Spartanburg Regional Med Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center.

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One Response to Future of nursing: nurse educators

  1. Lakisha Jones

    The shortage of nursing- an issue the profession has been dealing with for years. This issue of nursing schools lacking professional support I do agree is one of the major contributors to the problem. Look at University of Florida for example: a well-esteemed nursing program that turns down nearly 75% of their applicants because they have to limit the size of their nursing class. One of the factors is the number of instructors available to teach is limited, but also a huge factor that sometimes people forget is the resources available in the area that the school must rely on for educational purposes- hospitals. Nursing students have clinical rotations in hospital settings that have to be large enough to house the students. Funding can also be an issue for many nursing schools like any college program. Nursing school is intense, hands-on, and the importance of supplies and equipment to “practice on” also becomes a financial issue. Grace’s idea to offer teaching positions to those without an advanced degree but with loads of experience would be a great idea, most especially in the clinical setting. If schools could implement a standard of quality that all instructors had to abide by, I think many experienced nurses could provide invaluable experience that a less experienced, advanced degree nurse could not. If the numbers truly reflect that nursing school admission numbers are capped due to limited instructors, then any way to get influence those to teach should be welcome. But we cannot forget to look at other compounding reasons listed earlier as to why nursing schools simply can’t handle larger numbers.