Curbing the nursing faculty shortage
EDITOR'S NOTE: Marcia Frellick is a freelance writer.
editors-note
For most faculty vacancies, 92.8%, a doctoral degree is required or preferred, according to the AACN.
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Deena Nardi, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, is a professor and director of the doctor of nursing practice program at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. She said minority populations should be the first place to start. About 30% of all nursing students are from diverse backgrounds, Nardi said. “Yet only 13% of all nursing faculty come from racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds,” she noted.
Changing current practice and prioritizing tapping into the leadership potential among diverse populations will not only help fill the gap but work toward a goal of making nurses feel welcome with representatives in faculty from all cultures. Advertising for faculty in professional journals targeted to specific minority groups is one step, Nardi said.
Targeting the 350,000 people in the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations is another, she said. “We should be recruiting at their conferences.”
One way the AACN has been addressing the retention problem is with a Faculty Development Conference, held each year since 2007, and to be held in 2017 Nov. 15- 16 in Atlanta.
The conference is to help beginning teachers gain insight and confidence so they can excel at leading in clinical and classroom environments. The conference helps retain beginning teachers as well as training them to take on higher-level instruction. AACN aims to develop teaching talents from beginning students through those on a doctoral path, said AACN’s Director of Academic Nursing Development Rosalie Mainous, PhD, APRN, FAANP, FAAN. Among this year’s conference goals are developing strategies to build a culture of collaboration, getting past gridlock, working in teams and using program evaluation data — such as data on how students perform on licensing and standardized tests — and feedback on how students respond to certain teaching strategies to build curricula.
“We hope that nurses will have something usable, tangible, that they can take back and use right away to improve their practice of teaching,” Mainous said.
Partnerships with clinical sites
Carole Kenner, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and professor at the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, notes that state schools of nursing are restricted by the number of lines or positions granted by the state. Therefore, schools have to find creative ways to stretch faculty time. At TCNJ the nursing school has five offsite programs with clinical and healthcare partners, one for a graduate program and four for the RN-to-BSN programs. “That affords me the opportunity to get clinical placements, which are hard to come by,” Kenner said. “It also allows me to use some of their expert staff as [part-time] faculty or as adjunct faculty, and that expands our program. That is a real help,” she said.
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Nurses often turn to teaching in their 50s, when they may have children at home and also be caring for parents and possibly grandparents. Being open to negotiating more flexible schedules may help attract applicants.
She added that even when there’s little wiggle room in negotiating salaries, negotiations might include time. Nurses often turn to teaching in their 50s, when they may have children at home and also be caring for parents and possibly grandparents. Being open to negotiating more flexible schedules may help attract applicants, Nardi said.
Taking more advantage of technology, such as simulation, can help faculty make better use of their time, which would be another selling point for applicants, Nardi said. Retaining faculty is also crucial, as people tend to stay in faculty positions for a short time, she said. Having mentorship programs isn’t enough, she said. Those programs need to be evaluated at each school to see whether they are working.

She said questions schools should ask about their programs include: Are the right pairings being made? Who’s mentoring and do they really want to do it? Are there written guidelines and clear goals? Is there an ending point for the mentorship? Is there a plan to recognize the mentor for the time devoted? Another way to support new faculty is to make sure other faculty members know their interests and research areas and what they bring to the university to help integrate them into the staff.
The shortage is having direct effects on the nation’s nurse pipeline. In the report “2016-2017 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing,” estimates show U.S. nursing schools turned away 64,067 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate programs in 2016 because there weren’t enough faculty, clinical sites and classroom space. Most schools responding to the survey singled out faculty shortages as a reason for turning away qualified applicants in bachelor’s programs.
The AACN “Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions,” released in October 2016 surveyed 821 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs and identified 1,567 faculty vacancies. In addition to filling the vacancies, nursing schools cited a need for 133 more faculty positions to meet student demand. Filling those vacancies will take innovation in both finding good candidates and supporting them, experts say.
Seeking out minority candidates
With nurse faculty vacancy rates at almost 8% nationwide, schools of nursing embrace innovative ways to recruit and retain teachers
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By Marcia Frellick
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