With the nursing shortage upon us, there is a lot of speculation about the causes. Research is showing several factors contributing to the decline in nurses, one of which is the nurse educator shortage.
I’ve been working in nursing for over 20 years and in higher education for 13 years. In my time as a nurse educator, I’ve seen many great nurses come and go. The ones that leave complain of burn out and the wages. Are you wondering what the research says about the nurse educator shortage?
Nurse Educator Shortage Facts
The National League for Nurses (NLN) published a fact sheet outlining critical factors contributing to the shortage.
“ Recruitment challenges, including: ‣ Difficulties in in attracting and retaining qualified nurse faculty; ‣ Challenges in achieving demographic diversity within nursing faculty; ‣ A general lack of awareness on the part of the public and among nurses that the faculty role is a viable career objective;
Problems in providing adequate nurse educational preparation specific to teaching;
Obstacles to sustaining and funding nurse faculty programs; and
The aging and imminent retirement of current nurse faculty.”
The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) advises the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Congress on policy issues related to nurse workforce supply, education, and practice improvement. In a 50 page 2010 report, the NACNEP discusses this growing problem in depth.
“Each year, 11% of full-time faculty leave their position. Most (44%) leave for positions in the private sector. Twenty percent retire.” (Fang, 2009)
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that 49,498 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2008. Schools of nursing cited insufficient numbers of faculty as a leading factor in their inability to admit the increasing number of applicants. Clearly, in order to expand the pipeline of the nurse workforce, the nurse educator shortage must be addressed.
What Can be Done?
AACN has a list of strategies being utilized all over the country to address the nurse educator shortage. Some of these long-term strategies include:
– Provide a positive image/role model for advanced education.
– Recruit young people from middle and high schools to the nursing profession.
– Streamline the education track to higher academics.
– Financial aid/ loan forgiveness programs in return for teaching service.
– Mentoring support to decrease attrition rates.
– Better salaries and benefits.
– Positive work environment.
– Reward teaching excellence.
– Faculty development and mentorship programs.
– Develop relationships with state legislators for support and funding.
– Partnerships (high school, colleges, health care institutions, governmental agencies).
If changes don’t happen soon, the nurse educator shortage will only get worse. The problem can’t be fixed overnight, but it is important that we all do our part to encourage and support continuing education in our field.