Expanding the Teaching Capacity of Nurse Faculty

    • May 9, 2013

Academic nurse leaders and researchers came together recently to share expertise and insights when the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education program (EIN) hosted its third annual meeting of grantees in Portland, Ore. The theme of the meeting underscored EIN’s objectives to evaluate ongoing strategies that address the nurse faculty shortage and to generate findings to inform the development of new approaches.

The meeting included a roundtable conversation about ways to optimize the contribution of DNP-prepared faculty members to nursing education. National experts, including deans and designers and directors of DNP programs, discussed the scope of the contribution of DNP-prepared faculty, as well as evaluation, promotion, and tenure policies that will promote a productive match between how they are prepared and the needs of nursing education. There was a particular focus on expectations of scholarship and how it should be assessed. 

EIN Program Director Michael Yedidia, MPH, PhD, moderated the session. The panelists were: Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean, and Mary O’Neil Mundinger, professor at Columbia University School of Nursing; Christine Tanner, PhD, RN, FAAN, interim dean and AB Youmans-Spaulding Distinguished Professor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU); Gail Houck, PhD, RN, PMHNP, professor and director, the OHSU Post Masters DNP program; and Marie Annette Brown, PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC, FAAN, FAANP, professor, University of Washington School of Nursing.

At the meeting, EIN’s two active cohorts presented research plans and preliminary findings to leaders in graduate nursing education and editors of key nursing journals. Members of the program’s 2012-2014 cohort are studying recruitment of doctoral students, preparation for faculty roles, and career choice. The aim is to inform strategies to meet the recommendation in the Institute of Medicine’s  nursing report  to double the number of doctorally prepared nurses by 2020.

OHSU’s Tanner, who chairs the EIN National Advisory Committee, moderated the session. “These studies will give us a much richer understanding of doctoral education … how people decide to pursue their degrees, what that experience is like and what they plan to do with them,” she said. 

Panelists were Linda Norma, DSN, RN, FAAN, senior associate dean for Academics and the Valere Pottery Menefee Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (SON); Heather Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the Betty Irene Moore SON at University of California-Davis; and Cindy Teel, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate dean of Graduate Programs at the University of Kansas SON. 

Panelist Heather Young commented on the ways that nursing education is evolving: “We need to think about how we’ll teach completely differently. We still think of nursing education in a linear way with a Holy Grail at the top. I challenge us to think about how we can partner with community colleges, practice, and others to improve nursing education at every level.”

Disseminating Research Findings

EIN’s commitment to dissemination was supported by a session that featured editors from three major nursing education journals who critiqued a structured abstract and summary of a manuscript prepared by each of the cycle-2 grantees who are in the final stages of their research. Their projects consist of controlled evaluations of large-scale substitution of simulation for clinical teaching sessions, a statewide educational consortium implementing a single baccalaureate nursing curriculum, and state-based support-for-service programs promoting recruitment and retention of nurse faculty members.

The editors—Marion Broome (Nursing Outlook), Jan Bellack (Journal of Nursing Education) and Joyce Fitzpatrick (Nursing Education Perspectives)—offered in-depth input to grantees about how to tailor their stories to make them accessible and relevant to key audiences.  

The editors’ panel and open topic tables (which included a lively discussion about synergies between EIN, other RWJF nursing programs, and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action) expanded the conversation to consider the impact of changes in nursing education on the reformed health care system and patient care. “This is about nursing on behalf of the health care of our citizens,” said Cindy Teel, who is part of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action’s Kansas Action Coalition. “To improve that, we really need to transform ourselves. Some of what we’re discussing here will inform how we do that. It’s part of what’s going on across the country with the Institute of Medicine report on the future of nursing and the Campaign for Action. It’s about evolving models of education and practice based on the expertise each one of us can contribute, in order to advance heath and health care.”

Yedidia also demonstrated uses of the NuFAQs (Nurse Faculty Query) web application. Based on data from the National Survey of Nurse Faculty (conducted during the 2010-2011 academic year by EIN), NuFAQs offers users opportunities to customize findings by exploring interrelationships among more than 60 dimensions of nurse faculty work-life. He said: “Academic nursing is confronted with the challenge of preparing nurses to play crucial leadership and clinical roles in reforming the health care system at a time when a shortage of faculty members undermines capacity for addressing current workforce demands. Schools are called upon to do more with less. Clearly we need evidence of effective strategies to address these challenges, which will require more investment in nursing education research and in building greater capacity to conduct such research.”

More information on EIN grantee research projects is available on the program’s website.