Utilizing Nurse Practitioners to Eliminate the Nursing Faculty Shortage
Guest blogger Rebecca Bone, MSN, RN is assistant professor, Tennessee State University
Indeed, a nursing faculty shortage exists within nursing programs across the nation. Many institutions of higher learning are choosing to fill nurse educator positions with advanced practice nurses, in particular, nurse practitioners. As this may appear to be a quick fix for a serious problem, filling educator positions with individuals that lack formal nursing education curriculum presents a number of challenges for practitioners as well as students.
Nurse Practitioners definitely possess exceptional clinical knowledge, but many quickly discover they are treading on unfamiliar territory when attempting to enter the nurse educator arena. Often, they lack the skills to effectively communicate knowledge for student learning to occur. Most students complain that practitioners have a tendency to teach above the level of the average nursing student's comprehension. Frequently, nurse practitioners assume the student has prior knowledge of certain content, when in fact, sufficient learning has not occurred which hinders the student from progressing to higher level concepts. This false assumption retards student learning.
Nurse practitioners who lack formal training in nursing education struggle with the daily responsibilities of the nurse educator role. Many do not understand the theoretical concepts of teaching and learning, much less using Bloom's Taxonomy to guide item writing to effectively evaluate student learning. They certainly are baffled when asked to link course learning outcomes with program learning outcomes. These are essential skills that must be mastered in order to be an effective nurse educator. Practitioners know what the NCLEX is, but don't understand the importance of the NCLEX blueprint. Therefore, practitioners frequently experience and express frustration when assuming nurse educator roles without acquiring formal knowledge.
The purpose of post article is to enlighten practitioners who are contemplating nurse educator positions to the challenges that have been observed and reported. Many have a false sense of the nurse educator role, not realizing that it is common practice to devote evening and weekend hours for lecture preparation and/or examination construction. In addition, nurse educators are expected to participate in university activities, be active members of professional organizations, and engage in research. Thus, the role of the nurse educator can be very overwhelming at best and most often undervalued.