The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing

Original Article 

Professor in Residence: An Innovative Academic-Practice Partnership

Katherine Hinic, PhD, RN, CNE; Mildred Ortu Kowalski, PhD, RN, NE-BC, CCRP; Wendy Silverstein, DNP, RN, CNML, CPHQ

Abstract

This article describes an academic-practice partnership between an American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet®-designated hospital and an academic nurse educator that has increased the hospital's capacity for research, evidence-based practice, and support for nurses continuing their education. Through close collaboration with the full-time nurse researcher and members of the nursing education department, the professor in residence consults with clinical staff to support completion of research and evidence-based practice projects. The collaboration also has resulted in the development of a formal year-long mentoring program for clinical nurses in the area of evidence-based practice. Individual support and academic consults are offered to nurses enrolled in school to promote advancement of nurses' educational level. This collaboration has been beneficial for both the hospital and the university, increasing the capacity for scholarly activities for nurses in the hospital and serving as a forum for ongoing faculty practice and scholarship.

J Contin Educ Nurs. 2017;48(12):552–556.

Abstract

This article describes an academic-practice partnership between an American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet®-designated hospital and an academic nurse educator that has increased the hospital's capacity for research, evidence-based practice, and support for nurses continuing their education. Through close collaboration with the full-time nurse researcher and members of the nursing education department, the professor in residence consults with clinical staff to support completion of research and evidence-based practice projects. The collaboration also has resulted in the development of a formal year-long mentoring program for clinical nurses in the area of evidence-based practice. Individual support and academic consults are offered to nurses enrolled in school to promote advancement of nurses' educational level. This collaboration has been beneficial for both the hospital and the university, increasing the capacity for scholarly activities for nurses in the hospital and serving as a forum for ongoing faculty practice and scholarship.

J Contin Educ Nurs. 2017;48(12):552–556.

Academic-practice partnerships are a key link to quality patient care and current, relevant clinical education for nursing students. Numerous types of academic-practice partnerships have been described in the literature and include a wide range of models from clinical placement of students to individual relationships of faculty and a clinical agency (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2015; Brewer, Brewer, & Schultz, 2009; Kleinpell, Faut-Callahan, Carson, Llewellyn, & Dreher, 2015). This article describes a partnership between an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet®-designated facility and a consulting academic nurse educator designated as the professor in residence. This collaboration has supported the organization's professional practice model, has increased capacity for research and evidence-based practice (EBP) for both internal and external researchers, and promotes ongoing faculty scholarship and competence in EBP.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM, 2010) has identified EBP and skills in research appraisal as critical competencies for nurses in today's health care environment. Similarly, the AACN (2008) identifies appraisal and integration of evidence and measurement of clinical outcomes as competencies of baccalaureate-prepared nurses, with master's-level nurses prepared to serve as team leaders and mentors in the implementation of EBP and continuous quality improvement (AACN, 2011). As members of a scientific discipline, nurses are responsible for the generation and application of research and other evidence findings in the care of increasingly complex patients and populations. However, consistent access to, appraisal, and application of evidence in nursing remains an ongoing challenge in both clinical practice (Melnyk et al., 2016) and academia (Kalb, O'Conner-Von, Brockway, Rierson, & Sendelbach, 2015).

The professor in residence is an academic nurse educator from a nearby university who provides consultation and collaborates closely with the Shared Governance, Magnet, and Nursing Education and Nursing Research departments of the hospital. The hospital contracts directly with the university professor for 8 hours per week of onsite consultation. The role has fostered an increased capacity for research and EBP, increased support for nurses employed by the hospital who are enrolled in school, and facilitated the work of outside researchers within the organization.

Program Description

The academic-practice partnership dually supports the needs of this ANCC Magnet-designated facility in the promotion of new knowledge, innovation, and EBP, and the needs of the university, which seeks to promote current clinical practice and active research among faculty. This role was first implemented at the hospital almost 10 years ago (Forrester, O'Keefe, & Torres, 2008) and has evolved since then to meet the expanding needs of nurses in a transformed professional practice environment. The responsibilities of the professor in residence are summarized in Table 1. The professor in residence's onsite time is devoted primarily to consulting individually with direct care nurses or teams of nurses engaged in research or EBP projects, teaching continuing education programs, and overseeing other research-related activities.

Professor in Residence Description of Duties

Table 1:

Professor in Residence Description of Duties

Research and New Knowledge

The professor in residence collaborates closely with the full-time nurse researcher, increasing capacity for interdisciplinary research throughout the hospital. In the first year of collaboration, the professor in residence designed and served as the principal investigator for two original research studies: an interdisciplinary study on the effect of pet therapy on coping and anxiety in hospitalized children and a nursing study related to the EBP activities and values among nursing staff. In addition, the professor in residence has served as the local principal investigator and liaison for academic faculty research and several student projects. Examples of this work include a study of leadership development in newly licensed RNs and implementation of a depression screening and referral program in an outpatient endocrinology clinic.

To promote staff-driven research, either the professor in residence or nurse researcher is available to consult with direct care nurses who have clinical questions and guide them through the research or quality improvement process. Consultations are adapted to meet the diverse needs of individual researchers or teams, depending on their level of experience with research and the phase of their project. Both the professor in residence and nurse researcher provide group educational programs on research and EBP, and individual or team assistance with the institutional review board process, research design, statistical analysis, and interpretation. Thus, the presence of a professor in residence promotes scholarship within the hospital by supporting both the work of employees and external researchers including students and faculty from nearby universities.

Evidence-Based Practice

One of the primary objectives for the professor in residence role was the development and implementation of a year-long intensive EBP scholar program to provide structured mentoring to direct care nurses with a clinical question. The professor in residence was responsible for the design of the program including the application and selection process, curriculum development, contact hours, collaboration with health sciences librarian, payroll tracking, and teaching in the program. The professor in residence regularly met with scholars, both individually and in groups, on an ongoing basis for overall project management and assistance through each step of the practice, evidence, and translation (Newhouse, Dearholt, Poe, Pugh, & White, 2012) EBP process.

The first year of this program resulted in an initial cohort of 10 direct care nurses with clinical projects from diverse practice areas aimed at improving patient care, staff communication, and retention of newly licensed RNs. The interdisciplinary clinical EBP projects that resulted from this program are summarized in Table 2. Support for scholars included quarterly workshops on the phases of the EBP process as well as group and individual consultation throughout their projects.

Evidence-Based Practice Projects Facilitated by the Professor in Residence

Table 2:

Evidence-Based Practice Projects Facilitated by the Professor in Residence

Advancing Nurses' Educational Attainment

The IOM's (2010) landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, advocated for increasing nurses' educational level and doubling the number of nurses with a doctorate by the year 2020. Because this facility also values and encourages nurses in the advancement of their education, there are many nurses who are in school, pursuing baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degrees. The professor in residence provides information, support, and project assistance to these nurses to facilitate successful completion of their degrees. Specific forms of assistance include review of protocols for master's theses and doctoral dissertations or scholarly projects. The professor in residence provides feedback to students on study design, recruitment, and sampling plans, and also assists with the institutional review board process.

Support of Shared Governance Structure and the Professional Practice Model

A professional practice model (PPM) is a schematic description of a theory, phenomenon, or system that depicts how nurses collaborate, communicate, and develop professionally (ANCC, 2008). The current authors' professional practice model demonstrates the relationships between their organization, health system, and community at large. Within this model, shared governance provides the structure for which decisions are made and implemented at both the unit and organizational levels (Silverstein & Kowalski, 2017).

The professor in residence serves as a member of the nursing research council and provides consultation to other hospital and unit-based shared governance councils as needed. The role supports professional relationships, professional nursing values, and advance of nursing excellence through professional development and recognition, as defined in the professional practice model.

Clinical Practice Recommendations

This partnership has proven valuable for the current authors' organization in promoting staff engagement in clinical inquiry through EBP and research. This type of partnership is recommended for clinical agencies to increase the capacity for staff-driven clinical research and EBP projects, and to improve nurses' educational level.

Clinical Practice Setting

Prior to implementing this type of collaboration, it is recommended that options for funding the position should be explored, the professor in residence should be carefully selected, and specific desired program outcomes and goals should be identified. Although the current authors' organization funds the position through its Shared Governance, Magnet, and Nursing Education operational budget, the role also could be supported through grant funding. An alternative option for funding the role could be to partner directly with the faculty member's university, arranging for a joint clinical-academic appointment.

Qualifications of the professor in residence and the reporting structure are other important considerations when planning to implement the role. Nursing administration should consider whether a partnership with a certain university is desired or whether it is the skills and attributes of a particular faculty member that are more important. At the current authors' organization, this role initially began as a partnership and sharing of resources between a university and the hospital. Over time, the process changed to the manager of Shared Governance, Magnet, and Nursing Education recruiting an individual faculty member who was identified as an effective and enthusiastic champion for EBP and research. Because expertise in research was particularly important at the current authors' organization, candidates with a research-focused doctorate in nursing (ie, doctor of philosophy [PhD] or doctor of nursing science) and a minimum of 1 year of academic teaching experience were sought. The professor in residence reports to both the manager of Shared Governance, Magnet, and Nursing Education (a doctor of nursing practice [DNP]-prepared nurse educator) and the nurse-researcher (a PhD-prepared researcher), highlighting the importance of the PhD/DNP collaboration in advancing nursing scholarship.

Academic Setting

Despite the widely acknowledged importance of EBP in the clinical setting, many prelicensure nursing education programs continue to focus on teaching research methods rather than the skills for translating research and other evidence into clinical practice (Fineout-Overholt, Stillwell, Williamson, Cox, & Robbins, 2015). Although most nursing faculty are supportive of teaching EBP skills to their students, recent studies suggest a lack of faculty competence in EBP (Orta et al., 2016). To effectively teach EBP, nursing faculty themselves must have practice with asking clinical questions, locating and appraising the best evidence, and translating findings into practice (Fineout-Overholt et al., 2015; Stillwell, Fineout-Overholt, Melnyk, & Williamson, 2010). This type of partnership promotes faculty competence in the EBP process, which is necessary for effective teaching of this content throughout both undergraduate and graduate curricula.

Limitations

For the hospital, the primary limitation of the current model is the limited amount of time (8 hours) contracted with the faculty member each week. However, with specific goal setting, teamwork, and dedication, much can be accomplished in this amount of time.

Increasing demands on nursing faculty, coupled with the national shortage of nursing faculty (AACN, 2017), can make it challenging to find a qualified and interested candidate to fill the professor in residence position. The national nursing faculty shortage has been accompanied by a marked increase in enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs (AACN, 2017). Experienced nursing faculty are responsible for teaching more students, mentoring students as well as new faculty, and balancing the role expectations of teaching, scholarship, and service (Smeltzer et al., 2016). As the primary responsibilities of the professor in residence also are related to mentoring and supporting scholarly activities, this may prove to be too significant of an increase to an already full workload.

Conclusion

The implementation of this academic-practice partnership has proven mutually beneficial to both the hospital and the university. Engaging an academic nurse educator as a consultant supports the hospital's professional practice model and shared governance structure, and promotes the Magnet culture. The model also has allowed for an increase in research and EBP-related activities. In addition to working with 10 EBP scholars in the past year, the professor in residence has coordinated EBP projects of eight master's and DNP students including reducing readmission in patients with total joint replacement, preventing Clostridium difficile, and implementing routine nondisease-specific mental status assessment of adult medical-surgical patients.

Although increasing faculty workload and faculty shortage could be hindrances to recruiting and retaining a qualified candidate, the professor in residence role has the potential to significantly benefit both the university and faculty member. A recent survey study exploring factors contributing to the nursing faculty shortage (Bittner & Bechtel, 2017) identified developing more joint clinical-academic appointments, increasing diversity, and clear defining faculty responsibilities as strategies to address the shortage. This is one such innovative partnership that could be transformed into a joint appointment. In addition, the practice in a clinical setting contributes positively to a faculty member's program of research. Overall, the close collaboration between the professor in residence, the full-time nurse researcher, and nurse educators has enhanced the support and expertise offered to the organization's nurses.

References

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Professor in Residence Description of Duties

Research and Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

Support direct care nursing staff and students with research, EBP, and journal club activities, including the development of EBP Scholars program.

Support the generation of new knowledge and application of EBP through innovative projects and collaboration with a variety of teams.

Explore avenues for funding of nursing research and submit grant applications for funding as appropriate.

Independently hold face-to-face consultations with nursing staff to formulate research questions, plan methodology and analyses, and assist with the institutional review board application and planning for nursing studies.

Assist in the creation and finalization of presentations and publications explaining research data.

Perform literature reviews and synthesize data for reports or publications as needed.

Complete institutional review board requirements to participate in research at health system.

Staff Education

Create and present at least one educational session yearly with nursing contact hours.

Support the understanding of research through educational efforts, both formal and informal.

Shared Governance

Participate in the nursing research council meetings.

Academic-Practice Collaboration

Interface with nursing students from colleges and universities who request to conduct research or quality improvement studies at the hospital, and monitor the progress and tracking of such research.

Identify potential opportunities for interface with the university, with regard to research dissemination or conduct.

Evidence-Based Practice Projects Facilitated by the Professor in Residence

Clinical Practice AreaProject(s)
Mother-baby

Evidence-based management of postpartum gestational diabetic mothers to improve 6-week follow-up glucose testing

Wound, ostomy, and continence service

Increasing accuracy of pressure injury assessment of through digital photography

Emergency department

Implementation of a nurse-driven protocol for management of long bone fracture pain

Best practices for fall prevention among adult patients in the emergency department

Medical step down unit/inpatient medical surgical

Implementation of best practices for supporting newly licensed RNs transition to practice in a busy acute care unit

Cardiac access unit

Implementing best practices for handoffs between outpatient and inpatient settings

Postanesthesia care unit

Use of capnography to facilitate safe pain management in postoperative patients

Medical intensive care unit

Implementation of an evidence-based progressive mobility program

Oncology

Best practices for infection prevention in oncology

Authors

Dr. Hinic is Assistant Professor, Seton Hall University College of Nursing, South Orange, and Professor in Residence, Morristown Medical Center, Morristown; and Dr. Kowalski is Nurse Researcher, and Dr. Silverstein is Manager, Shared Governance, Magnet, and Nursing Education, Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, New Jersey.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

The authors thank Carol Jones, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer of Morristown Medical Center and Marie Foley, PhD, RN, Dean of Seton Hall University College of Nursing, for their support of this partnership.

Address correspondence to Katherine Hinic, PhD, RN, CNE, Assistant Professor, Seton Hall University College of Nursing, 400 South Orange Avenue, South Orange, NJ 07079; e-mail: Katherine.hinic@shu.edu.

Received: May 18, 2017
Accepted: August 23, 2017

10.3928/00220124-20171115-06

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