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

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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