The shortage of nursing faculty is one of the trends that have significant implications for medical schools, hospitals, and ultimately patient care. In particular, one should discuss the lack of those educators that have Master’s or doctoral degrees because these people are more prepared to teach students. These professionals can better prepare learners for the challenges that they can encounter in the workplace. Moreover, they can show them how to adopt the best practices that can improve the quality of services offered by medical institutions. Currently, statistical surveys indicate that modern medical schools cannot effectively meet the needs of learners who want to carve out a career in nursing (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2015). Furthermore, this trend can be reinforced if no steps are taken. In turn, it is vital to explain the underlying origins of this problem and outline strategies for resolving it.
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Statistical data indicating at nursing faculty shortage
To illustrate the problem of nursing faculty shortage, one should mention that in 2006, medical schools rejected 41 683 candidates who fully met their academic requirements (Allen, 2008, p. 36). Furthermore, in about 73 percent of all cases, they did not accept applicants because they did not have a sufficient number of educators who could train new students (Allen, 2008, p. 36). In turn, during 2014 colleges declined the applications of 68 838 qualified candidates (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2015, p. 1). Thus, one can say that this trend has only intensified during the last nine years. Furthermore, at present, the “nursing faculty vacancy rate” equals 6.9 percent, and this indicator suggests that the level of turnover in this field is very high (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2015, p. 1). Therefore, these data suggest that it is necessary to change some of the existing policies.
It should be mentioned that policy-makers continuously speak about the problems associated with the shortage of nurses. However, the diminishing number of nursing faculty is one of the reasons why modern hospitals are significantly understaffed. Furthermore, this tendency has significant implications for the quality of patient care. This is why this issue should not be overlooked by various stakeholders such as college administrators or senior managers of various hospitals.
The underlying causes of this trend
At first, one should note that many educators, who have post-graduate degrees, are aged above fifty (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2015). Therefore, it is possible to expect a wave of retirements that will worsen the situation even further. This demographic trend is one of the reasons why many colleges and universities struggle with the shortage of nursing faculty.
However, this problem can be explained by other factors. In particular, many nurses prefer to pursue a career in non-academic fields. For example, many of them want to work in private medical institutions (Cowen & Moorhead, 2014, p. 55). This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about people who have Master’s or PhD degrees. Many of them are dissatisfied with their academic positions. In particular, they focus on such factors as non-competitive salaries (Cowen & Moorhead, 2014, p. 55; Polifko-Harris, 2009). Their income can be significantly higher if they work as healthcare providers. Furthermore, their wages are lower in comparison with other educators. So, these people may believe that the value of their work is underappreciated. One should also keep in mind that graduates need to repay their student loans. They think that by pursuing an academic career, they will find it even more difficult to repay these loans. These aspects should be considered by college administrators if they want to change this situation and reduce the shortage of skilled nursing professionals.
Moreover, it is important to remember that many experienced nurses find it rather difficult to adjust to the role of educators. These people did not take any education courses during their studies. This is why they may lack very important skills such as the ability to speak in public or the development of various evaluation tools. At that time, they did not believe that such courses could benefit them. As a result, modern colleges can choose from a very limited pool of candidates. One should also keep in mind that about 60 percent of nurses prefer to obtain associate degrees (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013, p. 320). They believe that there are no incentives to obtain Masters’ or doctoral degrees (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013, p. 320). So, these people are less prepared to act as educators.
Furthermore, those people, who do want to pursue a career in education, believe that they cannot fulfill their potential. For instance, they do not have much time to conduct their own research. Therefore, these individuals believe that their professional experiences are not satisfying. This issue also affects their attitude towards becoming educators. This detail should be taken into account by people who shape the policies of modern colleges.
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Overall, this discussion shows that this problem can be attributed to a wide set of factors such as demographic trends and inefficiencies of the policies adopted in colleges or universities. Finally, it is critical to remember the economic motives that prompt practitioners not to build the career of educators. The knowledge of these details is important for designing more effective strategies. This task requires the cooperation of different stakeholders such as college administrators, medical institutions, and government officials who should find ways of attracting nursing professionals into educational organizations.
The main impacts of nursing faculty shortage
As it has been said before, the shortage of nursing faculty leads to the reduction of students and graduates who can work as efficient healthcare providers. The problem is that sometimes educational institutions cannot accept even qualified candidates taking interest in nursing.
There are other important implications of this tendency. In particular, many nurses are not able to meet the requirements set in healthcare organizations. It is one of the reasons why many hospitals struggle with the shortage of these professionals. Admittedly, there are other factors that should be taken into account. For instance, one can mention work stress, the ambiguity of professional roles, or inadequate compensation. Nevertheless, many of these difficulties can be avoided if they could interact with experienced educators. Apart from that, these medical workers are unable to improve the existing patient care practices. This task is one of the priorities for modern nurses.
Moreover, these learners are often unable to make use of research findings and introduce new methods of nursing. Thus, the absence of educators adversely influences the work of nurses and the experiences of patients. In the future, the shortage of nursing faculty can produce various adverse effects on medical institutions.
The methods of addressing this problem
It is possible to design several policies that can be useful for reversing this trend. In particular, college administrators should provide various courses that can prepare nurses for the role of educators. These courses should enable these people to get insight into various instructional strategies, rhetoric skills, motivational strategies, and so forth. They should be primarily intended for practicing nurses who want to assume the role of teachers. These people need to know how to share their vast experience with students. Currently, there are not many mechanisms that can enable these professionals to integrate into academic institutions. These initiatives may not bring immediate improvements, but they can be beneficial in the long term. In this way, one can increase the number of candidates who can be ready to fill the role of educators. Moreover, it is necessary to encourage students to obtain Master’s or PhD degrees. In part, this goal can be achieved by reducing tuition fees. This policy can be useful for alleviating the financial burden carried by students.
Additionally, college administrators should pay attention to the compensation offered to nurse educators. These people should see that their work can be adequately rewarded. Without this incentive, they may simply decide to choose a career in a different field (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013).
On the whole, this discussion suggests that it is critical to developing policies that can address the shortage of nursing faculty because this problem considerably impairs the quality of patient care. In particular, one should provide incentives that can encourage young people to pursue a career in education. Furthermore, one should design courses that enable practicing nurses to develop teaching skills. These issues should be considered primarily by college administrators.
Allen, L. (2008). The Nursing Shortage Continues as Faculty Shortage Grows. Nursing Economics, 26(1), 35-40.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2015). Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet. Web.
Cowen, P., & Moorhead, S. (2014). Current issues in nursing. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Nardi, D., & Gyurko, C. (2013). The Global Nursing Faculty Shortage: Status and Solutions for Change. Journal Of Nursing Scholarship, 45(3), 317-326.
Polifko-Harris, K. (2009). The Practice Environment of Nursing. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.