Educational Program Innovation Strategies and Role of Faculty In Nursing

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Innovation Strategies and Role of Faculty In Nursing and Educational Program

Educational Program Innovation Strategies and Role of Faculty In Nursing

Program Innovation In Nursing Education,Strategies to Address Faculty Shortage In Nursing Education,New Faculty Roles In Nursing Education.

Program Innovation In Nursing Education

    As schools of nursing move forward with program innovations and new initiatives, they face limited numbers of faculty to teach in those programs, a situation likely to worsen. More students are applying to nursing programs than in previous years, but there are not enough faculty to teach those students and, in some programs, not enough clinical settings, classrooms, and learning laboratories to increase enrollment. 

    Last year nearly 16,000 qualified applicants to baccalaureate nursing programs alone were unable to be admitted because there were not enough faculty or in structural resources (AACN, 2003b).

    One main reason for the current faculty shortage is that more educators are retiring than are being replaced in schools of nursing. The mean age for master's prepared faculty is 48.8 years and for nursing educators with doctoral degrees 53.3 years (AACN, 2003a). 

    Schools of nursing have had increases in their graduate program enrollments, but many students complete those programs part-time and assume roles in clinical and other settings for higher salaries. This has resulted in a pool that is too small to replace faculty who are retiring. 

Strategies to Address Faculty Shortage In Nursing Education

    The faculty shortage is likely to continue for years to come, and schools need to develop other strategies for educating nursing students. Through partnerships with clinical agencies, advanced practice nurses can teach students at different program levels and can coordinate preceptor experiences in that setting, with the school supplementing their salaries or providing adjunct appointments, reduced tuition, continuing education, and cooperative programs for staff, among others . 

    Partnerships provide a way of pooling resources and talents and sharing responsibility for preparing future nurses (Barger & Das, 2004), Partnerships with clinical agencies only work although if the school adequately prepares those advanced practice nurses, preceptors, and other doctors for teaching roles and develops clear systems for communicating with them.

    Some schools are asking retired faculty to teach part time, conduct program evaluation, advise students, and carry out other roles, relieving faculty of those responsibilities so they can focus on new program initiatives. 

    Teaching in schools of nursing needs to be attractive to potential faculty who may not want to pursue research and scholarship but are expert physicians. Strong clinical tracks with contracts, promotions, and merit raises comparable to tenure line make the role more attractive and create a stable faculty group.

    Release time for faculty to gain expertise in developing courses for distance education, learning new instructional technologies, and redesigning courses and experiences for an online environment is a way of developing innovations without burdening existing faculty. Release time might range from a semester without a teaching assignment to one without committee work depending on the needs of the school and faculty.

    Distance education provides a mechanism for addressing the faculty shortage across a geographic area if schools are willing to share courses, instructional resources, and faculty. Schools with insufficient numbers of faculty can develop collaborative arrangements in which they share distance education courses or faculty, or new programs can be established for this purpose. 

    Baumlein (2004) suggested that nursing programs that have similar curricula should develop online consortia rather than each school offering the same courses. Issues with tuition costs, residency requirements, and other university requirements need to be resolved before these collaborative arrangements can be implemented. 

New Faculty Roles In Nursing Education

    As increasing numbers of faculty teach at a distance, new faculty roles are developing. Nurse educators are now able to teach in “virtual schools of nursing” or online courses for multiple nursing programs either in addition to their current positions or as a full time commitment. 

    Faculty conflicts of interest may arise in some of these situations with schools. competing for the same distance education students. How do faculty with multiple teaching alliances decide where to place most of their emphasis in teaching? Conflicts can result in how faculty allocate their limited time and resources when teaching in multiple programs.

    Nurse educators might choose to become “virtual adjunct” faculty, teaching for multiple distance education programs, but will the quality of nursing education be threatened by the presence of too large a number of part-time faculty? Increases in adjunct faculty positions, even if online, also limit the prospects of faculty members who want full-time and more permanent teaching positions (Carnevale, 2004).

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