Journal of Nursing Education

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Who Will Teach the Future Nurses?

Rheba de Tornyay, EdD, RN, FAAN

Abstract

Besides the course content and other scholarly endeavors stressed in graduate school, students examine their values and attitudes with the help of their mentors. "Student Career Goal Changes During Doctoral Education in Nursing" by Edna Zebelman and Steven Olswang reported in this issue must be taken seriously. The unsettling news that nurses completing their doctorates prefer positions not requiring them to teach is supported by their data. It is understandable and commendable that the new doctoral holder wishes to continue to be a researcher given the emphasis on nursing research in the doctoral program. However, because the majority of nurses holding a doctorate are employed in schools of nursing, should we not be preparing these future faculty members for the role they will be expected to assume? At one time graduate preparation in nursing consisted primarily of role preparation with the emphasis on the so-called "functional" areas of teaching or administration. It was a sound and essential move for the emphasis to shift to the nursing discipline. But have we gone too far in the opposite direction? The time-honored manner in which college teachers have been prepared for the disciplines taught in higher education has been through serving as teaching assistants with faculty mentors. Today, the teacher of nursing enters an academic career without the prerequisite trial of competence. Not only are teaching skills not developed, but, as Zebelman and Olswang documented, the graduate of the doctoral program becomes disinterested in a faculty position that will require substantial teaching efforts.

Each faculty member teaching doctoral students should carefully take stock of his or her own attitudes and values. What kind of role model am I? Do I really like helping students, particularly undergraduate students, learn nursing? Do I really enjoy the faculty role, even the more time-consuming and sometimes frustrating aspects involved in the needed committees required for faculty governance? Do I transmit my own enthusiasm and joy of teaching? Do I make it a point to emphasize that, as important as research is, it is not the only aspect of being in academia?

As our profession accelerates efforts to increase the supply of well-qualified nurses at all levels, who will teach them if the current environment of the graduate school discourages students from seeking a teaching position? This question should be addressed by every graduate nursing school.…

Besides the course content and other scholarly endeavors stressed in graduate school, students examine their values and attitudes with the help of their mentors. "Student Career Goal Changes During Doctoral Education in Nursing" by Edna Zebelman and Steven Olswang reported in this issue must be taken seriously. The unsettling news that nurses completing their doctorates prefer positions not requiring them to teach is supported by their data. It is understandable and commendable that the new doctoral holder wishes to continue to be a researcher given the emphasis on nursing research in the doctoral program. However, because the majority of nurses holding a doctorate are employed in schools of nursing, should we not be preparing these future faculty members for the role they will be expected to assume? At one time graduate preparation in nursing consisted primarily of role preparation with the emphasis on the so-called "functional" areas of teaching or administration. It was a sound and essential move for the emphasis to shift to the nursing discipline. But have we gone too far in the opposite direction? The time-honored manner in which college teachers have been prepared for the disciplines taught in higher education has been through serving as teaching assistants with faculty mentors. Today, the teacher of nursing enters an academic career without the prerequisite trial of competence. Not only are teaching skills not developed, but, as Zebelman and Olswang documented, the graduate of the doctoral program becomes disinterested in a faculty position that will require substantial teaching efforts.

Each faculty member teaching doctoral students should carefully take stock of his or her own attitudes and values. What kind of role model am I? Do I really like helping students, particularly undergraduate students, learn nursing? Do I really enjoy the faculty role, even the more time-consuming and sometimes frustrating aspects involved in the needed committees required for faculty governance? Do I transmit my own enthusiasm and joy of teaching? Do I make it a point to emphasize that, as important as research is, it is not the only aspect of being in academia?

As our profession accelerates efforts to increase the supply of well-qualified nurses at all levels, who will teach them if the current environment of the graduate school discourages students from seeking a teaching position? This question should be addressed by every graduate nursing school.

10.3928/0148-4834-19890201-03

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