To the Editor:
After reading the article “Faculty Retirement: Stemming the Tide” by Foxall, Megel, Grigsby, and Billings in the March 2009 issue (Vol. 48, No. 9, pp. 172–175), it occurred to me that in all the literature searches I have performed during my 6-year academic career in nursing, advocacy for liberality in degree requirements for nurse educators receives little support. Although I found this article’s points on correcting the nurse educator shortage to be beneficial, older faculty will, in fact, have to retire; the profession’s best bet is to attract new faculty. Why is making exceptions about degree requirements associated with decreased quality? Can it be said that, in general, nurses with a baccalaureate degree make better clinicians than nurses with an associate degree? If not, is it then appropriate to make the same judgment between nurses with and without a graduate degree in nursing education regarding their efficacy as educators?
In terms of clinical instructors, who better to teach students than nurses who are still clinical? Since when is clinical expertise not a valuable asset? The type of degree earned does not guarantee efficacy. Other methods of measuring qualifications to be a nurse educator need to be explored. My experience in undergraduate practicum was by far the greatest preparation for my role as a registered nurse. It bridged the theory-practice gap like no other experiences I had until then, and it was all due to the 20 years of experience of my nurse mentor, an associate degree nurse.
There are registered nurses who desire to teach but are deterred by the significant decrease in salary, educational preparation requirements, and expectation to obtain a doctorate degree for upward mobility. Using experienced registered nurses as clinical instructors allows nurses to maintain their current work hours and should not require additional education. Staff nurses can also relieve the constraints of didactics by agreeing to be guest lecturers on their specialty topics (Whitmarsh, 2009). These tactics allow faculty at retirement age the freedom in schedule, decreased workload, and departure from clinical instruction that they desire to remain employed, and they also liberate master’s-prepared educators to perform didactics, curriculum reform, and objective achievement tasks (Foxall, Megel, Grigsby, & Billings, 2009).
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing stated that to rectify the nurse educator shortage, it may be necessary to enlist instructors from other professions who do not have nursing degrees (2005). Is this not skipping a step? Why use resources outside of the profession before enlisting the help of talented, qualified nurses who want to do the work? Nurses assume the educator role daily in their experiences as clinicians. Maybe we should consider looking a little closer to home for a solution.
Christina Thompson, RNC, MSN
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2005). Faculty shortages in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs: Scope of the problem and strategies for expanding the supply. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/publications/whitepapers/facultyshortages.htm
- Foxall, M., Megel, M., Grigsby, K. & Billings, J. (2009). Faculty retirement: Stemming the tide. Journal of Nursing Education, 48, 172–175. doi:10.3928/01484834-20090301-07 [CrossRef]
- Whitmarsh, C. (2009). Guest lecturers ease shortage of nursing instructors. Retrieved April 16, 2009, from http://www.travelnursesource.com/notes/category/nurse-educators