Nursing Faculty Retention
Editor's Note: This guest post is written by Lisa Bingham, MSN, RN from Newburg, Oregon. She has been a registered nurse for 18 years and is currently pursuing her FNP from Gonzaga University
I fully support the idea about leveling "the playing field" when it comes to requiring advanced degrees for nurses to practice. I believe that my advanced education has greatly improved my nursing care; however, there is very important aspect related to this debate that is often neglected.
One of the problems with requiring advanced degrees for nurses, is, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), we not only have a nursing shortage but a faculty shortage as well. As a recent nursing faculty member, I can tell you that I worked in one of at least 700 nursing schools with vacant faculty positions (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-faculty-shortage). Although the average salary of a nursing instructor is slightly over $78,000 per year, I was making a little more than half that amount and working every day of the week to prepare my students for the workforce. When my students graduated and obtained a job, they made more money than I did. A nurse practitioner, who also requires a master's degree, averages over $91,000 per year (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-faculty-shortage).
Compensation, although important, is not the most important aspect of a career. As I previously stated, I worked every day. I am an organized person by nature, but not only were there papers to grade and research to be done in order to prepare for lectures and clinical experiences, in an academic setting service is a requirement of scholarly research and publication in order to gain promotion. There were often marathon faculty meetings as well as hours of advising of students. Most of the time, it feels like you don't get to spend enough time with working with the students which is the whole reason you started teaching. People say, "Well, you get the summer off." Again, we are doing research, service and preparing for the next academic year. We are volunteering at new student orientations and academic advising for the incoming freshmen and transfer students.
I am not complaining about the job as I loved spending time with students, but I am trying to show that there is much more to being a nursing faculty member than working 12 hours and then going home. (I'm not saying that working a 12 hours shift in a hospital is not difficult). I also have a spouse and four children. I had to stop working as a nursing faculty in order to be present with my family. I now have a part-time nursing position in which I spend 24 hours and make more money per hour than I did as a nursing faculty.
The compensation for the amount of hours that a nursing faculty is required to spend is not adequate. Until this is remedied, requiring advanced degrees for nurses is going to be an uphill climb. It's a wonderful idea and has been shown to improve patient outcomes, but thought needs to be put toward nursing faculty retention and compensation in order to make advanced practice degree requirements work.