1. Wall, Natalie RN, Grad Cert. (Acute Care)

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Although the professional commitments and responsibilities of nursing faculty are significant, in my opinion it is essential that they remain clinically current. "Clinical currency" can be defined in a variety of ways, from the simple provision of direct patient care to expert knowledge of that area of practice (Fisher, 2005). There is a great benefit associated with the provision of direct patient care along with maintenance of clinical ability within the clinical environment. These benefits will be evident for the academic nurse and his or her career, the students and their learning, and the relationship between academicians and clinicians.


Clinical currency makes a nurse faculty member credible. Many universities are now expecting the faculty to demonstrate that they are connected with the clinical environment, with lecturer practitioner roles being created in order to facilitate this. Only when faculty provide patient care in the clinical environment are they exposed to current technological, cultural, and clinical practices, all of which need to be integrated into student curricula (Brown, 2006). Because faculty need to prepare students for clinical settings in which rapid changes in technology occur and patient acuity levels are high, it is necessary that faculty be clinically current. Anecdotally, students of clinically current faculty report more respect for them, perceiving them to be more in touch with the real world (Brown, 2006). Being clinically current can also benefit the faculty member in helping to identify current issues that could be a rich source for research.


Working within the clinical environment may also improve the curriculum. Examples and anecdotes from real clinical situations in which faculty have been involved can be used as a valuable source of elaboration on theoretical concepts, enriching the learning experience. Such storytelling is a way to enliven discussions and can assist students to visualize a situation and reflect on how they would manage it. Because the case study approach and problem-based learning are so important in teaching and learning in academic settings, realistic and current case studies can only be available to faculty when they maintain their clinical work (Cave, 2005). This may assist students further in the often difficult transition between academic learning and clinical practicum, through the development of clinical simulations that better reflect clinical realities and prepare students for patient care.


Along with teaching and research, community engagement is another segment of the workload expectation for nursing faculty and can be seen as valuable time spent maintaining connections with the practice-based profession that is nursing. The theory-practice gap is a topic that has been continuously debated in nursing literature, despite nursing being for many years within a tertiary education setting in most Western countries. Nurse academicians are often viewed with skepticism by clinical nurses, thinking that they have lost touch with the reality of nursing practice (Cave, 2005). If nurse academicians are visible and accessible in the clinical environment, improved relationships between learning institutions and clinical care providers may be seen. Bridging this perceived gap not only benefits each group but also benefits the students through improved relationships with institutions they may visit during their clinical rotations. Recognition of clinicians who may be interested in pursuing academic activities in nursing may also be facilitated, with availability of faculty to discuss options and encourage involvement in the scholarship of nursing. By recruiting more nurses who value scholarly pursuits in nursing, the professional status of nursing will continue to progress.


There are many benefits for faculty who engage in clinical practice, and faculty should be required to maintain a clinical practice to enhance their teaching, scholarship, and community service.




Brown, S. J. (2006). The experiences of lecturer practitioners in clinical practice. Nurse Education Today, 26, 601-608. [Context Link]


Cave, I. (2005). Nurse teachers in higher education: Without clinical competence, do they have a future? Nurse Education Today, 25, 646-651. [Context Link]


Fisher, M. (2005). Exploring how nurse lecturers maintain clinical credibility. Nurse Education in Practice, 5, 21-29. [Context Link]