TODAY, IT IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT to celebrate those who have responded to God's call to nursing education and to support you in preparing nurses. The National League for Nursing (NLN) estimated in 2002 there were 18,782 full-time and 11,076 part-time faculty employed in U.S. nursing programs. Nurse educators, we salute you!
We also pray for you. There is a projected shortfall of over 800,000 RNs by 2020. Despite increases in nursing school enrollments, admissions are limited by faculty shortages. In December 2005, the NLN reported 147,466 qualified nursing school applicants were denied admission because of faculty vacancies. In 2005 nationwide, faculty vacancy rates were estimated at 8.5 percent at schools offering baccalaureate and higher degrees, and 5.2 percent in all types of programs.
Why the educator shortage? Numerous factors have been cited. While these apply to most nurse educators, I have noted a different attitude toward teaching in at least some Christian educators. These quotes from an online discussion illustrate their attitude (accessible at http://ncfintervarsity.org/facgrad/forum.html):
“As a Christian nursing faculty teaching critical care students in a secular university, I feel it is a privilege and calling to teach. I agree that we are challenged by issues of postmodernism and modernity, but what an awesome time to be influencing our future nurses” (posted 10/25/05).
“I came across these verses in Exodus 35 about the craftsmen creating the tabernacle: ‘He has filled him with divine spirit, with skill, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft …. He has inspired him to teach’ (vv.31, 34). This was so encouraging, showing me that God values teaching and puts it in our hearts to teach. As nurses, we are craftsmen, artists in a way, with wisdom, understanding and knowledge—and in some of us, God has also put it in our hearts to teach. It was a gift to see that God has given me this desire and ability; it also gave me courage to teach boldly and confidently” (posted 10/27/05).
Christian nurse educators have the opportunity to develop competent, compassionate, Christ-centered nurses. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few (Mt 9:37–38). As we intercede with God to call more nurses into teaching, let us also support one another, communicate God's call to teaching, and mentor novice faculty.
FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE NURSING FACULTY SHORTAGE
* Increasing Age of Faculty
* Decreasing Number of Master's/Doctoral Graduates
* Faculty Retirement
* Salary Differentials, Educators vs. Clinicians
* Other Career Choices for Master's/Doctoral Nurses
* Cost of Graduate Education to Prepare Faculty
* Job Dissatisfaction, Increasing Workload
* Complex Workload
IDEAS FOR EDUCATORS … Use content in this issue of JCN with your students.
* Revisiting Nightingale (pp. 26–36) For student discussion, journaling or reflection papers:
1. Why are you preparing to be a nurse?
2. How does what you believe about people, illness, suffering and death influence your care?
3. What have you learned about dealing with disagreements from these authors?
* Haldeman (pp 20–21) Replicate the Christian Nurse Interview.
* Lee (pp. 14–19) As part of a research or senior capstone course, ask students to document their three most memorable patient experiences; replicate the inductive analysis to identify common themes in their care.
NLN News Releases
, December 9, 2005: Despite Encouraging Trends Suggested by the NLN's Comprehensive Survey of All Nursing Programs, Large Number of Qualified Applications Continue to Be Turned Down,” at http://www.nln.org/newsreleases/index.htm