Journal of Nursing Education

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Abstract

To the Editor:

The points in the editorial "Who Will Teach the Future Nurses?" (J Nurs Educ 1989; 28(2):52) are well taken. Assuredly, faculty at all levels must reconsider their values and attitudes as well as become more cognizant of the consequent impact on the students. Yet, what role do administrative sanctions play in the teaching arena? The longer I remain in nursing education, the more I become aware that teaching expertise is not valued by those in authority. Or is it valued but not rewarded? Perhaps excellence in teaching is simply the expectation in academe and therefore does not need to be rewarded.

What does seem to be rewarded is the generation of research grants, the production of scholarly works, and the conduct of disciplined inquiry. The message conveyed is that teaching becomes a secondary, less important activity. Hence, not only are educators of nurse educators to be called to task, but also should those who reward educators.

I share your concern but would contend that pressures to obtain the terminal degree, to produce scholarly works, and to establish oneself within the professional ranks compete with the teacher role in the academic setting. Has the need for academic survival contributed to the decreased emphasis on the teacher role?

I will always enjoy teaching, and will always teach undergraduate nursing students. However, I know how demoralizing it is when the energy, time, and expertise required by this activity are perceived by others to have little or no worth. It is my belief that one must have fortitude to continue - and a true commitment to the profession.

Karen H. Morin, DSN

Thomas Jefferson University

College of Allied Health Sciences

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To the Editor:

I read with interest, Zebelman and Olswang's article, "Student Career Goal Changes During Doctoral Education in Nursing" (J Nurs Educ 1989; 28(2):53-60). I did not find their conclusion (that the environment during doctoral education changed career goals) compelling.

Zebelman and Olswang provide only two quotes from respondents to help us explain the respondents' selection of career goals. These can be found on page 57 of the article. One respondent felt that her colleagues at home would punish her for being away if she were to return and the other stated, "My situation and immediate goals are dictated by family obligations, not necessarily my real desire."

I believe that socialization during doctoral nursing education is an important topic of nursing research. However, I think Zebelman and Olswang have demonstrated that to explain this socialization, we must look beyond the doctoral program itself.

Judith T. Maurin, RN, PhD

University of Utah

College of Nursing

Salt Lake City, Utah

Reply:

Dr. Maurin correctly points out that factors affecting socialization during doctoral education may be beyond the doctoral program itself. Our research found that place of residence and family concerns did affect career decisions made by doctoral students in nursing.

However, our data clearly showed that there were significant changes in career goals and in reasons for pursuing the doctorate between first-year students and students who had been enrolled in doctoral programs for more than one year. As there were essentially no demographic differences between the two groups, it is likely that family and place of residence had similar effects on both groups. Therefore, the factor of the educational process must influence the significant changes we found in career goals and in reasons for pursuing the doctorate.

Although the two anecdotes included indicated some socializing factors outside of the educational environment, the first anecdote did note low faculty salaries as one reason for choosing not to enter the educational field.…

To the Editor:

The points in the editorial "Who Will Teach the Future Nurses?" (J Nurs Educ 1989; 28(2):52) are well taken. Assuredly, faculty at all levels must reconsider their values and attitudes as well as become more cognizant of the consequent impact on the students. Yet, what role do administrative sanctions play in the teaching arena? The longer I remain in nursing education, the more I become aware that teaching expertise is not valued by those in authority. Or is it valued but not rewarded? Perhaps excellence in teaching is simply the expectation in academe and therefore does not need to be rewarded.

What does seem to be rewarded is the generation of research grants, the production of scholarly works, and the conduct of disciplined inquiry. The message conveyed is that teaching becomes a secondary, less important activity. Hence, not only are educators of nurse educators to be called to task, but also should those who reward educators.

I share your concern but would contend that pressures to obtain the terminal degree, to produce scholarly works, and to establish oneself within the professional ranks compete with the teacher role in the academic setting. Has the need for academic survival contributed to the decreased emphasis on the teacher role?

I will always enjoy teaching, and will always teach undergraduate nursing students. However, I know how demoralizing it is when the energy, time, and expertise required by this activity are perceived by others to have little or no worth. It is my belief that one must have fortitude to continue - and a true commitment to the profession.

Karen H. Morin, DSN

Thomas Jefferson University

College of Allied Health Sciences

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To the Editor:

I read with interest, Zebelman and Olswang's article, "Student Career Goal Changes During Doctoral Education in Nursing" (J Nurs Educ 1989; 28(2):53-60). I did not find their conclusion (that the environment during doctoral education changed career goals) compelling.

Zebelman and Olswang provide only two quotes from respondents to help us explain the respondents' selection of career goals. These can be found on page 57 of the article. One respondent felt that her colleagues at home would punish her for being away if she were to return and the other stated, "My situation and immediate goals are dictated by family obligations, not necessarily my real desire."

I believe that socialization during doctoral nursing education is an important topic of nursing research. However, I think Zebelman and Olswang have demonstrated that to explain this socialization, we must look beyond the doctoral program itself.

Judith T. Maurin, RN, PhD

University of Utah

College of Nursing

Salt Lake City, Utah

Reply:

Dr. Maurin correctly points out that factors affecting socialization during doctoral education may be beyond the doctoral program itself. Our research found that place of residence and family concerns did affect career decisions made by doctoral students in nursing.

However, our data clearly showed that there were significant changes in career goals and in reasons for pursuing the doctorate between first-year students and students who had been enrolled in doctoral programs for more than one year. As there were essentially no demographic differences between the two groups, it is likely that family and place of residence had similar effects on both groups. Therefore, the factor of the educational process must influence the significant changes we found in career goals and in reasons for pursuing the doctorate.

Although the two anecdotes included indicated some socializing factors outside of the educational environment, the first anecdote did note low faculty salaries as one reason for choosing not to enter the educational field. We think this demonstrates that this student felt that the efforts required of faculty are not fairly compensated, although a faculty position may have been her original intent. The second anecdote clearly indicated a preference for teaching at the graduate level, which supported our finding that students who had been enrolled for more than one year would prefer to teach in doctoral rather than nondoctoral settings.

Lastly, we were limited by space from including many other anecdotes that supported our findings that students do indeed change their career goals as a result of being enrolled in a nursing doctoral program.

Edna S. Zebelman, RN, PhD

Consultant

Steven, G. Olswang, JD, PhD

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

To the Editor:

As the originators of a nursing education/service project that is under review for federal funding, we were surprised and displeased to find an article about it in the March 1989 issue of your journal - written by non-nurses (Reinardy, James R., & Quam, Jean "Providing Health Services to Elderly in Public Housing: A Case for Clinical Experience" J Nurs Educ 1989; 28(3):127-132).

The article implies that it is a report of a research project initiated by the authors who are social work faculty. It was in fact the report of an evaluation that they, as outside reviewers, were hired to do for us following the pilot phase of the project. Not only were we neither credited nor informed about the article, but the funding source, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs of the University of Minnesota, was not acknowledged by the authors. Although we were given token credit in the article, it minimizes the amount of collaboration that actually took place in the evaluation process. Furthermore, at the end of the evaluation, we had discussed with Mr. Reinardy the possibility of a joint publication resulting from the collaborative. We were given no indication that this article was underway. Even more disturbing, the essence of nursing activity in the service/education project is missing from this rather lifeless report of numerical data.

If the authors had shared a draft of this manuscript with us before submission, we could have at least corrected inaccuracies and misleading statements. This incomplete representation of the project does an injustice to the contribution that nursing can make in addressing societal health needs.

Given the emphasis on publishing original work in the process of academic advancement, this experience impresses upon us the need for caution in undertaking collaboration across disciplines. We consider this to be an example of academic opportunism. Further, we are hopeful that our experience can serve to alert your reviewers and our colleagues in nursing education to a possible way in which nursing work can be co-opted by people outside the discipline, thereby undermining nursing effort that deserves recognition. In this instance, there was no obvious way for the reviewers to know the context of the authors' participation, nor did anything appear in the text that would clarify their role.

This raises a serious question about editorial responsibility to seek verification of the authority of non-nurse authors to report the work of nurses in a nursing journal. Such verification would be courteous to the nurses and would protect against exploitation of the profession.

Ruth Enestuedt, RN, MS

Cheryl Ann Lapp, RN, MPH, MA

Carol Diemert, RN, MS

University of Minnesota

School of Nursing

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Reply:

We were very disappointed to receive the letter from Enestvedt, Lapp, and Diemert. As researchers who have had several successful collaborative relationships with nurses in the past, we were surprised at their reaction to social workers writing about nurses.

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to their criticism, which we believe for the most part is unfounded. They state that the article "implies that it is a report of a research project initiated by the authors who are social work faculty." The first sentence of our abstract (which is the first statement made to readers) states clearly that it is a "research project, carried out by social workers in consultation with nurses," which "evaluated the services provided by a student nursing clinical program." Evaluation is a recognized research activity. The nurses participated in the research as is necessary in any evaluation effort, but it is we, the evaluators, who are responsible for the design of the evaluation, the instrumentation, the interviews, the analysis, and the conclusions and recommendations.

The article in question is simply an edited revision of the final evaluation report (An Evaluation of Provision of Health Services to the Elderly in Senior High Rises, Pilot Project, 1984-1985 by James R. Reinardy and Jean Quam )> which was submitted in monograph form under our names and acknowledged by the nurses as our work. In our final meeting with the nurses, they expressed appreciation for the report and appeared to have no concerns about its conclusions. The final report gave credit to the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs as the funding source for the evaluation.

Second, they state that they were not credited in the article, or only given "token credit." In fact, they are cited immediately in the article as a description of their part of the project, the clinical student nursing experience, is presented. We felt that we were reporting on the evaluation of this project and specifically the number of services that can be provided in what is essentially a learning situation for students.

Third, they state that they were not informed about the article and had discussed the possibility of a joint publication with Mr. Reinardy. Their understanding of such an agreement reflects a different perspective than ours. Mr. Reinardy suggested the possibility of a collaborative piece at the completion of the evaluation, but either at that time nor in the two years following the suggestion was any attempt made to discuss its nature or content. Such an article, which remains a possibility, would differ from the article in question, which is a summary of the evaluation report. One might envision a collaborative effort with them as containing components of our evaluation as well as what they might wish to contribute such as material on curriculum, suggestions for dissemination of the model, and program development. Our only regret is that we did not send them a copy of this piece due to the fact that one author was out of the country and another author was in the process of moving to another university at the time the article was submitted to the Journal for consideration.

We do not believe that there are inaccuracies or misrepresentations in this article and we stand behind our evaluation of their project. We hope that Enestvedt, Lapp, and Diemert will publish their findings about the student nursing project if they feel that we have not accurately portrayed the project from our perspective.

Lastly, we find it very regrettable that they question the value of interdisciplinary research and the ability of one discipline to evaluate another's activities. Nursing is a field that has struggled with social work to establish itself as a research discipline along with its reputation as a service discipline. We can learn much from each other.

James R. Reinardy, MSW

University of Illinois

Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Jean Quam, MSW, PhD

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

10.3928/0148-4834-19890901-15

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