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To the editor:

 

I am writing this letter in response to an article written by Jennifer Sims in Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing (published in the September/October 2009 issue), entitled "Nursing Faculty Shortage in 2009."1 In the article, Sims does a spectacular job outlining the numerous reasons for the nursing faculty shortage. She especially focuses on the salary and financial issues surrounding the faculty shortage, stating, "The issue of adequate compensation is crucial to the future of nursing education." Offering a higher salary and better benefits may be an effective method in recruiting new faculty members, but it doesn't take into account the current financial situation that many educational institutions are facing in today's economy. Therefore, in the interest of solving this problem in a timely matter, alternative solutions need to be addressed.

 

One of the solutions that Sims mentioned in regard to recruiting nursing faculty members was to encourage and mentor current students to consider teaching. As a nursing student, I feel that this solution is the key to successfully recruiting nursing faculty for years to come. One idea to make teaching more attractive to current students would be to add a minor in nursing education to a bachelor of science (BSN) degree. Nursing students who decide to pursue this extra minor would then have the opportunity to take an accelerated master's degree program to become a nurse educator. This curriculum would build off the minor in nursing education and focus more on advanced curriculum planning, teaching strategies, and research. Many people may argue that a downside to the accelerated master's degree program is that students would not have the clinical experience to effectively teach upcoming nursing students. Although this is a respectable concern, the curriculum for the accelerated master's degree program would incorporate a student teaching component and possibly a clinical rotation to maintain nursing skills. There is no doubt that an accelerated master's degree program would be challenging and require one full calendar year of classes rather than just two academic semesters. However, the fact that students would finish a master's degree in one full year, instead of two or more, is very appealing to current students who look to achieve the highest level of education in the shortest amount of time.

 

A similar program to the accelerated program that I proposed above was initiated at the Dominican University of California. Ganley and Sheets2 reported that the program allowed nurses with either an associate degree in nursing or a BSN to complete a dual geriatric clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and nurse educator degree in 21 months. The class was very convenient as it met alternating weekends on Friday night and all day Saturday. Another very appealing factor to nurses was the program's financial aid option. All students, regardless of financial need, were allowed to receive a $10,000 forgivable loan. The loan would be forgiven if, upon graduation, the students worked as nurse educators for a minimum of five semesters. This particular program made becoming a nurse educator appealing not only because of the meeting times or financial incentive, but also because graduates were able to obtain a geriatric CNS degree.

 

I have presented these two alternative methods of facing the nursing faculty shortage to help readers understand, from a student's perspective, the important and realistic aspects that nurse educator programs must have. Even if neither of these ideas seem feasible to the reader, one thing that can be agreed upon by all is the fact that other methods, besides monetary incentives, are needed to recruit nursing faculty and maintain high educational standards.

 

Gregory M. Eddy

 

Senior Nursing Student

 

Saint Anthony College of Nursing

 

Rockford, Illinois

 

gregory.eddy@osfhealthcare.org

 

References

 

1. Sims J. Nursing faculty shortage in 2009. Dimens Crit Care Nurs. 2009;28(5):221-223. [Context Link]

 

2. Ganley B, Sheets I. Educational innovations. A strategy to address the nursing faculty shortage. J Nurs Educ. 2009;48(7):401-405. [Context Link]