1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR

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Here it is another May, another time to celebrate graduations. Are you aware that the National League for Nursing (NLN) has reported that 70% of the nursing schools in the United States had an increase in applications during 2003-2004? Admissions were up 37.4%, enrollments were up 50.3%, and graduations were up by 33% (NLN, 2004). We can't break out the champagne yet, however, for the major ongoing shortage of nursing faculty makes it impossible for nursing schools to admit many more students. An NLN report shows that lack of faculty caused nursing schools to turn away 125,037 qualified applicants from nursing programs in 2003-2004 (NLN, 2004). Why the nursing faculty shortage? According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN, 2003), some of the factors are salary differentials between academia and clinical sites, age of the average faculty member (51.5 years), tuition and loan debt from graduate study, age of doctoral graduates (mean age is 46, giving them fewer years to function as faculty), and generational differences. Clearly we haven't done a very good job in recruiting younger nurses onto faculties in schools of nursing, and younger nurses don't seem to be clamoring for the job.


When considering the generational issues, I'm reminded of that Steely Dan song "Hey, Nineteen," which bemoaned the generation gap between 40-somethings and those younger: "Hey nineteen, that's Aretha Franklin, don't you remember the Queen of Soul? Hey nineteen, no we got nothing in common, no we can't dance together, no we can't talk at all..." Does this relate to nursing? Of course it does. Do older nurses understand younger nurses? How can we motivate them to replace us on faculties? Motivation has multiple components, but perhaps the issue of salary is illustrative. How important is salary to generation X nurses? If it's a really important motivator, what can be done to change the gap in salary between clinical nurses and faculty? This gap has become so wide that many nurses of generation X simply won't consider that option (AACN, 2003). And why should they? Young people have many choices for their careers, and when they choose nursing, salary is a part of the equation. No one becomes a nurse to become wealthy, but they certainly don't expect to be poor. Hospital salaries starting in the mid $50,000 range in many settings are now common, but salaries for faculty positions have not risen as rapidly (AACN, 2003). According to the AACN, younger nurses "calculate whether it profits them to seek doctoral study and enter academia when they can earn better salaries in non-academic positions" (AACN, 2003, p. 8).


Now it's a nursing faculty shortage we need to overcome.


Are there solutions? Great minds are working on solutions, including innovative ways to motivate younger nurses. Some suggestions have been to encourage nurses to begin graduate study right after their basic program (after all, physicians graduate with a doctoral degree and only then begin clinical work), more online coursework, loan forgiveness for new faculty, and hospital/university partnerships to help more clinical nurses function as faculty for clinical courses (see the AACN reference for many more suggestions).


Teaching nursing has great rewards. I can attest to its incredible benefits; the way students react when they learn something new that you have taught them is truly food for the soul. If you're a young nurse out there, I encourage you to consider becoming a faculty member. Get your graduate degree right away, and work with the university and the institution in your community to forge relationships that will enable you to teach. You can be a part of the solution to the faculty shortage. Nurses in your generation are inquisitive, energetic, knowledgeable, and indispensable. You are our future. Maybe you don't know who Aretha Franklin is, but there's a lot you can teach all of us, as well as a whole new generation of nurses to come.




American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2003). Faculty shortages in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs: Scope of the problem and strategies for expanding the supply. Retrived February 18, 2005, from [Context Link]


National League for Nursing. (2004). Startling data from the NLN's comprehensive survey of all nursing programs evokes wake-up call. Retrieved February 18, 2005, from [Context Link]